I married a gay man

Published: January 1, 2008

I married a gay man

"You have chlamydia," my obstetrician told me as I lay on the examining table, six months pregnant with my fourth child. "You’ve got to talk to your husband." I was in total disbelief. "This is impossible," I protested. "We’re both monogamous." But of course I knew that wasn’t really true, and the doctor’s words forced me to finally acknowledge what I’d suspected for a long time: My husband was most likely gay.

When I confronted my husband, Chris (not his real name), with my test results that night, he denied he was to blame. "They’ve got to be wrong, or I must have picked up something in the gym," he insisted. "I haven’t done anything wrong." Instead of arguing about how I felt or figuring out how I wanted to handle the larger issue, I focused on what I needed at that moment—to take medicine and get healthy—much as I had throughout our rocky marriage. It took a few more days of wrenching confrontation for our marriage to disintegrate. When Chris spoke to a health official who called to check on me (my case had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta), he realized our baby was at risk for premature birth and newborn pneumonia, and he became hysterical, as though he were having a nervous breakdown.

That evening, after we’d watched our three children play on the lawn of our home in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, he curled into a fetal position on a porch chair and admitted more than I ever wanted to know: He had been having anonymous sex with men. "I don’t know how this could have happened," he stammered. "It’s nobody that I knew…it was mostly oral sex…it just happened… At gay bars, there are back rooms with holes in the walls…" A wave of nausea swept over me as I listened to his agonized confession. But I kept quiet and thought, I’ve held up as long as I could. And I am done. With. You.

I was 30 years old when this happened, and Chris and I had been married for 11 years. We looked like the perfect family in our Christmas card portrait. Both of us grew up in the small-town South, and Chris was in the military. Yet I finally understood that our entire married life, except for our children, whom we both loved completely, was built on a falsehood. At that moment, I felt as if I were standing alone in the world, stripped of all dignity, with a big sign on me that read idiot. 

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