Bi-Visibility Day: Andy's Story
Publish Date: 13/09/2013
Andy*, 53, shares his story about being married and have never come out as bisexual.
Everyday I am torn between who I am to my family, my friends and myself.
I sit in meetings and hear people talk about being open and honest and true to yourself . If only it was this simple.
I volunteer with a major youth organisation and help promote diversity and equality. I sit through workshops where we discuss how to be ‘out’ can be an uplifting experience, how it can lift depression and contribute to your wellbeing. If only I could have this. But I can't.
What is even worse is that I am in a heterosexual relationship that has been devoid of mutual closeness for over 20 years. But I was brought up as a strict Roman catholic. My purpose in life being to get married, have children, continue the family name by having a son and be the dutiful husband/father. To this end I have devoted my life. I will go to my grave still living this lie to the outside world. Not for me, but to keep everyone happy.
When I was a child my mother thought I was going to be a priest; I used to play with statues of Mary and Jesus, dressing them up. We didn’t have action men dolls. I also had three sisters so didn’t have male toys. But this was working class, catholic family life, in Liverpool in the 60’s. Sent to a convent as a pre school, then to a Christian Brother primary and grammar school, I suffered the discipline of the nuns and the brothers brutality. But it gave me a foundation in life and did help me get a job when I quit school.
Maybe those experiences in a boys only environment from 7 years helped shape my future. I don’t know and never will. But I was already learning how to cottage by the time I was 14 and going to clubs in Preston by the time I was 17. At 19 I was doing my duty in finding a girl to settle down with, but at the same time growing and living my other life in the closet.
I remember as if it was yesterday being in my parents local pub and a guy challenging me at the bar about being seen leaving a house where an all-night party had taken place – it was a party for ‘queers’. Three times I denied it – Judas now springs to mind – but if I hadn’t in 1979 my parents would have been devastated.
To have same sex in those days was a criminal offence, not just for me as the 19 year old, but my older friends lives would have been destroyed. To think, it wasn’t until 2000/2001 when it was really made legal for consensual sex , especially as a three some.
So I got married and had kids. In truth I loved my wife then and still love her now after all these years – in sickness and in health until death do us part. I talk to close gay friends that know about me and they say I am gay – but I don’t consider I am. I am on that Bi spectrum, floating between gay and straight, sometimes more gay than straight but I am bi.
I live two lives and am constantly assessing the risk factors to ensure that I don’t compromise my straight life. But it’s a sham. I live in a sexless, emotionless marriage. I crave a cuddle and a shoulder to cry on, a hug when I come home from work – its not there. But I put a smile on my face, not for me but for others. I think the fact that I work a lot away from home and have done for about 15 years is the reason the marriage has survived – we haven’t been under the same roof all week. Its surprising how time passes you by.
With all this turmoil in my life, last year I was seriously thinking enough is enough and coming out and suffering the consequences. I was plucking up the courage to admit that I was bi and fancied guys. Then as a punishment, it seemed from god, for the promiscuous life I had led, I got the news that no man wants – prostate cancer.
I was devastated. When I was told, I had no one to support me. I sat in a hospital car park for over an hour in tears. Then I phoned my wife who was at a horse show and couldn’t come to the clinic where I was getting my results, results for a life changing event. She stayed at that horseshow and I put a brave face on things and got on with life.
I went and saw a gay friend and opened up with floods of tears. A few days later my wife came home. We talked about treatment and side effects. To cut a long story short she said if was her she couldn’t have the cancer living in her, she would want it out. Decision made.
Side effects – she said don’t worry – she wasn’t interested in sex. I WAS. But we didn’t talk about it. That spelt the end of whatever hetero sex I might have dreamed of – but hey, we hadn’t had sex in about 20 years of marriage. I used to lie there every night wanting to but afraid of rejection – so I never tried – there is only so many times a person can be told no and then you don’t bother asking again. But then I could compensate by my hunt for the perfect closed loop relationship/partner of the same sex and cruising . Now though with prostate cancer , the one emotional lifeline was being torn away from me.
So it happened. In October 2012, 12 months ago, I had open prostatectomy and was medically presented with erectile dysfunction to deny me what bisexual pleasure I had that filled the emotional vacuum presented to me by a heterosexual relationship I entered into to satisfy others, not myself, in the days when to be homosexual was illegal. So I am no longer a man, I can orgasm but don’t cum; I can sort of get some kind of erection but not good enough for real sex, male or female. I don’t get hard ons, so when cruising I don’t get that tell tale bulge to attract the other guys. Worse still, I don’t get those horny thoughts. The surgeons have cut through the emotional highways inside me.
Today, I help others as a volunteer and we talk about how lucky people are today in the UK that they don’t have to grow up with the constraints we had when we were younger. I just wish there was more support for us older guys still in that closet. I do give thanks to the likes of the LGF who provide support for gay and bi guys with prostate cancer once a month. It’s a lifeline that I have to talk to others in a similar boat.
Don’t know if you will use some of the ramblings of a 53 year old married bisexual. If you do, all I would ask is that you change my identity as I am not out.
We would like to thank Andy* (names changed to protect identities) for this poen, honest and moving account. If you would like to share your story contact firstname.lastname@example.org.