Bi/Gay Heterosexually Married Men
Gay and bi men that stay married to women
For a variety of reasons, some bi and gay men marry and choose to stay married to women. It is easier publicly, family-wise, and socially. These men get all the benefits of being married. Also, if a guy is bi, it is much less likely that he has taken the time to really immerse himself in the gay community or to have a deep exclusive emotional/sexual relationship with a man. On many levels, he is more likely to see being "bi" primarily as a sexual need.
For gay men that stay married, there are also many pressures to do so; religion, family, finances, and just plain old fear of the unknown. One of the earliest stereotypes of being gay is the solo gay man, the funny uncle that never gets to happiness. Most people have the ability to rationalize anything. To end any marriage/relationship, especially one of any significant length, takes a lot of courage and a willingness to embrace the unknown. Also it means dealing with the negative internalized images of what it means to be gay and facing the negative images of others.
I have also seen a lot of men stay married legally or in name only to provide benefits for the wife. While I can understand the sentiment, it prevents the wife from moving on and tells her that she is not capable of taking care of herself, and it does not give her with the incentive to do so. If there should come a time that a divorce is required, the man then has that many more years of marriage that are counted against him from an alimony perspective. As well, divorces do not happen overnight. They can be very drawn out, expensive, and emotionally exhausting. If you are going to end a relationship, end it—it is kinder to all 99% of the time. Again, not ending it also prevents the man from being completely available. As same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships become more common, why would the gay man not be offering these benefits to his same-sex partner? I believe this is a form of internalized homophobia to not be treating each relationship the same way. What about inheritance or the right to make decisions when a partner is ill or incapacitated? Staying married to the wife, even in name only, increasingly complicates a life already complicated enough.
A woman in a marriage, just as a man, deserves to be loved, wanted, and desired. It is not fair to her, either, to stay in a loveless marriage of convenience, unless both agree to that. It is very painful to be in an empty relationship, even if acknowledged or addressed. I recommend Amity Buxton’s The Other Side of the Closet to get a better picture of the straight spouse and the issues there.
There are two possible paths to being gay and staying married; one healthy and one unhealthy. First of all it is possible to be faithful and or monogamous in any relationship. If you are not getting your needs met, then you either need to suck it up or choose another path. Infidelity does not break up relationships, dishonesty does. Bisexuality is not an excuse to be unfaithful.
The Healthy way
I believe that in order for a gay man to be heterosexually married and have another relationship with a man (I am talking more than sex on the side), the only healthy way to do it is polyamory. Only by having acknowledged relationships can there be the space to grow as people and as relationships. Polyamory is not easy and it requires that all be flexible and there be open ongoing communication. If a man must stay married to a woman and wants his relationships to be healthy, I don’t see another option for having a same-sex relationship as well.
The Unhealthy ways
There are many more possibilities here. Most who choose to have sex with men while still married to a woman will simply cheat on their wives. They will reduce being gay to simply having sex with men. To simply cheat or have an unacknowledged open relationship is to institutionalize the shame of homosexual sex. It belittles all parties and creates an inherent dishonesty. It stops emotional and personal growth. The price to oneself and partners is very high.
Whether it is an ongoing sexual contact with one person, or a hook up in a bookstore, hotel, bathhouse or tea room, it does the same damage to the self, the relationship, and others.
Some men create open relationships. On the surface this is a better option. It reduces at least one level of dishonesty; however, again it treats the homosexual contact as just sex. It does not allow for or create the opportunity for a real relationship that deepens emotionally and creates trust and vulnerability. At best, this creates the age-old situation of having a mistress. Why an open gay man would be comfortable or willing to settle for the crumbs of another relationship is the subject for another article. So what will happen if a married man falls in love with another man and wants a committed relationship? What would that look like if he is still married to a woman?
One option I have seen up-close, for which I see ads all the time, is for two heterosexually married gay men looking for each other to create a secondary relationship that is generally thought to be a closed loop. The wives are generally unaware of the secondary relationship, and I have seen the couples become best friends. Of course, when the wives find out, it usually falls apart. Again, the secrecy is damaging to all involved and unhealthy. Dishonesty, especially ongoing dishonesty, is a cancer in all the relationships.