Gay men who are married or in relationships with straight women now have a place to seek support – as a support group launched in Manchester last week.
The Married Men’s Group held a meeting at Taurus on Canal Street last Tuesday, and will meet twice a month.
MM spoke to John Martin* who is involved with the group – who was married for 25 years before coming out to his wife.
He said: “The aim of the group is to offer help and encouragement to other men who find themselves in the same position.
“We’re really making the point that the person is not alone. It’s not uncommon in later life to come to terms with your sexuality.”
John added: “We’re here to help people through difficult periods.
“Often people come to us in a period of crisis where they’ve been outed, or have been removed from the family home.
“This group offers support from people who’ve been in these situations, rather than councillors who are educated on a topic but have no practical experience of their own.”
John explained that being a gay man in a straight relationship can have a big affect on your personal life, and admitted he still hasn’t told some family members for fear of how they would react.
“It’s very nerve-racking revealing your sexuality to those close to you because you wonder what the response will be.
“But with most people, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
He said he would urge anyone in the same position as him to get in touch with the group.
“After you reveal your sexuality, that doesn’t have to be it – there is hope for an amicable life,” he said.
The group provides an ‘open, relaxed and confidential’ environment for people to express themselves.
But, as seen in the cases of numerous gay men, many have problems expressing themselves.
MM spoke to members of Manchester’s gay community who had been in straight relationships about their experiences.
A man who was previously married with three children, but has been in a gay relationship for 11 years, said: “I knew I had feelings for men, but I also liked women. Some people call that bisexual, but I disagree.
“I had three children, but I knew I was gay.”
He added: “I came out to all my family, even my ex-wife, but it was fine. They were very understanding about it, as were my friends.”
The man assured others in his position that they had nothing to be afraid of.
“There’s a lot of gay men out there that are probably experiencing similar situations, thinking ‘How am I going to come out?’ – just do it.
“I would most definitely offer my support to gay men in straight relationships.”
A man who was previously in a straight relationship before coming out a couple of years ago said: “Coming out to friends was easy, coming out to parents was quite hard, but I did it in the end, so it wasn’t that bad.”
When asked what advice he would give to gay men in straight relationships, the man replied: “It’s really hard to do, but it’s easier to do with your friends.
“If you come out to your parents, like I did, then it’s really hard – some parents understand, some don’t.
“But at the end of the day, mine understood, which is the main thing.”
He revealed what it was like to come out at a young age.
“I came out at the end of high school, and at college I found that everybody accepts it more, because nobody’s really bothered about it,” he argued.
“Some people had inklings that I was gay, but it was easier once I came out for people to accept me rather than living a lie.”
He offered his full support for Gay Married Men’s support group.
“I think it’s really good,” he said.
“I want to get married myself one day and I think it’s good that the support is there.”
His partner offered some insight into being in a straight relationship while knowing he was gay.
“Probably at the time I hid it,” he admitted. “I was probably more bisexual back then.
“When I was with a girl I thought I loved them, and didn’t really think about guys as much.”
He shared some interesting stories – including the moment he admitted to his family that he was gay.
“I think they already knew I was gay, but never mentioned it.
“The night they asked me I was with my boyfriend, we were sat having a takeaway in the living room, pretending to be friends.
“All of a sudden my Mum asked if we were together, and then it just escalated from there.”
He added: “Before I came out, I was hiding from my sexuality, and I tried to put it off for ages.
“But you can’t fight it forever, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of – it’s who you are.”
He finished with some shrewd advice to gay men in straight relationships.
He said: “They can drag it on for as long as they want, and be scared, but sooner or later they might as well just go for it, otherwise they’ll regret it forever.”
Gay Married Men meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at Taurus. For more details, visit www.gaymarriedmen.org.uk
Picture courtesy of crashmaster007, with thanks.