My nephew told me about a guy he grew up with, who he always thought was gay. That man had now married to a woman. “How can a gay guy get married to a woman?” my nephew mused.
I can offer this perspective from my own life. I never went down that road myself, but maybe it’s the path of least resistance.
All through college, I never figured out I was gay. Early on, I had, for a while, what I suppose could be construed as a girlfriend. I hung out with this girl, Annie Cater, and her friend Lisa “Tippie” Lopez.
One time, Annie smuggled me into the girls’ dorm and got me naked in bed with her. For me, the forbidden fun of sneaking into her room was about as far as it went. I did as instructed, but maybe she was puzzled when I didn’t respond how she’d heard a boy was supposed to.
I was vaguely aware there were emotional undercurrents on her side. One time, I planted her a pan of wild violets, for her windowsill. A long time later I asked about the violets. The answer was, they were no more. There was a hint from Tippie, the planter had gone down in a fit of temper.
Was Annie riding the tumult of the ups and downs of “our relationship”? If so, I was blissfully clueless we even had “a relationship”.
The point is, for me it was all easy. It was so easy because I was not bonding to Annie. I was happy to go along with whatever happened. I can see a guy going-along like this, even to the point of saying “yes” to the question of matrimony.
That same year, one evening in the college cafeteria I sat for dinner with a guy named Bob Birch. We talked and visited pleasantly. However, as if on a separate information track, he kept lightly kicking my foot under the table. I ignored this for a long time but finally found it mildly annoying and kicked back. That’s as far as anything ever went.
Years later, I heard that kicking under the table was a gay come-on. Somewhere in there, I heard a shred of rumor that Bob was gay. Maybe I had been on thin ice. Bob was really quite handsome. One touch of his hand, a little less inhibition on my part, and maybe my body would have taken over. I might have been appalled afterwards, but things could have got really complicated.
Handsome as he was, Bob was subtly cracked. One night, in the drunken mayhem that was always going on in the dorms, he smashed his fist through a plate glass window. I have a memory, maybe woven from gossip. I picture him in the distant lamplight, being carried away on a stretcher, his striking face glazed, the gash in his arm gushing blood. I heard the surgeon could barely find the severed ends of the tendons, to stitch them back together.
For me, though, this happened mostly off stage. Bob was someone I barely knew.
It was far easier to let myself land in bed with a female. A little cuddling and skin contact might have been nice, even if not quite the right flavor. If there’s any truth to the cliché that wedding cake is a powerful female anti-aphrodisiac, her and my agendas might have dovetailed very well.
I think I instinctively knew not to go anywhere near the likes of Bob, no matter how handsome he was. Maybe a gay guy marrying a woman is crazy, but sometimes it’s the less crazy option. You get involved with a guy who puts his fist through plate glass windows, pretty soon you’re likely to be smashing your fists through some of your own.