Is my husband gay? That’s the Google query which tells a lot about the size of the modern American closet, according to research published in the New York Times. Of all the Google searches that begin “Is my husband…” the word gay is more common by 10 percent than the second ranking word “cheating”. It is also 8 times more common than “an alcoholic” and 10 times more common than “depressed”.
The research also found that states where there is less tolerance for homosexuality culturally are more likely to have women turning to Google and entering the search term “Is my husband gay?”
When we ask questions like this on the internet, it is often because we have no other place to ask them, or we do not feel safe admitting that the question exists at all.
When the data was published in December, much of the interpretation was focused on answering the question of how many men in the USA are gay, and where do they live. Sadly, the data confirms that many gay men in the closet are married to women who wonder, alone, unhappy, and sometimes afraid to even ask.
Why are women afraid to ask? For some, there might be violence or retribution carried out against them by their closeted spouse. For others, the shame and stigma will transfer to them. Still others may fear someone unleashing violence against their husband allegedly on their behalf. Its not a safe question, but it needs an answer.
Even in the gay tolerant climate of San Francisco, the derisive comments toward wives seeking the answer to this question can be very insulting and intimidating. SFgate asked
“Here’s a question for the befuddled wives of Louisiana and South Carolina: what does one expect to find when Googling “is my husband gay?” Has anyone ever gotten a simple yes or no? Are you looking for some kind of test like in the Salem Witch Trials? Bind his hands and throw him in the river to see if he floats? If the Google thing doesn’t answer all your questions, ladies, perhaps consider watching In and Out, Brokeback Mountain and just asking your husband if he is gay?”
Here’s the answer to the question Is My Husband Gay?
Women who have married or become sexually involved with a closeted gay man have been lied to by the person they love and chose to spend their lives with. They do not know whom to trust, and many no longer even trust themselves. So they are looking for affirmation, confirmation, truth, and support for themselves during this difficult process of emerging from someone else’s closet.
Watching Brokeback Mountain will not answer the question. And while the internet is full of tests and checklists, not all of those will answer the question. Many cannot ask their husbands, since it may result in some kind of further punishment or reprisal – and for many, the direct question is met with a crushing level of laughter, anger, ridicule and sarcasm. What me gay? You’re so crazy, girl. What’s wrong with you? Why would you think that? You are SO STUPID.
The inference in a conversation like this is that he’s not gay, but she is entirely to blame for problems in the marriage. Its a conversation that unfortunately happens many times, at least at the beginning of a wife’s discovery of her husbands homosexual interests.
When women go to the internet to ask the question “Is my husband gay” they are looking for information and resources. They will find that the Straight Spouse Network will not tell them their husband is gay, but will give them honest answers from people who understand. They will find research, data, and connections to different face to face and online communities where they can safely and confidentially get the answers they need.
Men google “is my wife gay” as well. We hate to tell you what they find. Checklists, satire, jokes, bible thumping. Not a whole lot of solid information. Here at the Straight Spouse Network, men not only find the support and resources they need when they discover or suspect that their wife is a lesbian, but they also provide affirmation for each other and for the women as well.
Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we wont tell you if your husband is gay or your wife is a lesbian. But we will help you find the answers to those questions, whether your spouse denies it or comes to you in full honesty. And we will affirm you as you seek to live in honesty and know the truth which you are entitled to know.
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There’s an old saying “Denial ain’t just a river.” How well many of us know this! For some straight spouses, it can feel like we have been swimming upstream trying to get an admission of truth from our current or former LGBT spouses. We know what we know, and yet when we ask “are you gay?” we are told an emphatic NO. For many of us, the lies hurt worse than the truth.
Many of us ask “are you gay?” and are told no, of course not. Sometimes a challenge follows the denial. How could we ask that? What on earth would make us think that? (“Oh I dunno, gay porn on the computer,texts on the cell phone, close friendships that exclude the spouse, not to mention that weird phone message on the voice mail from a complete stranger and pictures of someone’s penis in the sock drawer…) Perhaps there are now too many ways to evade answering the question “are you gay?” when a straight spouse asks it in frustration. After all, many counselors will look at a distraught straight spouse in couples counseling who outlines all the reasons they think their husband or wife may be gay and tell them that none of this makes them actually gay, so why do YOU think so?
Perhaps the best way to question a closeted gay spouse in denial is to ask more specific questions, yucky though it may be. “Are you having sex with other men/women? Are you having sex with (name)? Did you meet those people from Craigslist for sex? What do you find attractive about this type of porn?” Even with such pointed questioning, some spouses in denial will still continue to evade answering or accuse us of being delusional, or making something out of nothing. After all, some have convinced themselves that oral sex isn’t real sex, or having sex with someone of the same sex isn’t cheating on a heterosexual spouse, or that they are not really LGBT, they just fell in love with the person.
Some of us will never hear the truth – and many people around us will never want to hear the truth. Homosexuality is still a very uncomfortable subject with many people – including the some who are actually homosexual and dont want to be! Sometimes gay and lesbian spouses in denial resort to proclaiming us to be crazy – and often many family members and friends will believe them. Its easier for some people to believe that we are crazy than that they are gay and in denial.
One of the most wonderful things about the Straight Spouse Network is that we are peer to peer and confidential. One of the things we affirm for each other is this: You know what you know. We don’t demand “proof”. We don’t tell you that you aren’t an expert on sexuality so you don’t really know. You DO know. You are an expert on YOUR life and YOUR situation. And it is safe to share your questions, confidences, and observations with us. Chances are, someone in our group has had a similar experience. We wont tell you that you are going crazy. Instead, we might have some ideas to help you keep from going crazy!
During times that media focuses attention on high profile cases, we often find that we are contacted by straight spouses who recognize the similarities in their own lives. If you believe you are the straight spouse or significant other of a gay person in denial, we welcome you to contact us and get free, confidential support for yourself in a safe atmosphere. You need it – and you deserve it.