Why your husband might be gay

Published: April 12, 2018
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Now you’re afraid your wife/husband might be gay. How did you end up in this situation? PHOTO: PHOTOS.COM

Allow me to get straight to the point.

Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this.

It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted exclusively to opposite gender’ and six being ‘attracted only to people of the same gender’.

Because homosexuality is considered culturally unacceptable, men who are around, say four out of six on the Kinsey scale, may attempt to convince themselves that they’re ‘straight’. This is because they are indeed attracted to the opposite gender, although not as much as they’re attracted towards other men.

This is where the term ‘heteronormativity’ needs to be explored. This word means a lot of things, but what it primarily indicates is a social system where ‘heterosexuality’ is the norm and anything else isn’t. It would have been simpler had the gay community been fighting a covert war with the surface world of straight people, but it isn’t. Quite often, gay people themselves internalise the values of heteronormativity, and try to shape their own lives in accordance with rules set by straight people.

One of these rules is that you must marry. Death, taxes and marriage are all unavoidable. The institution of marriage, as it exists in Pakistan, has little to do with love or sexuality. It’s about ensuring your financial security. It’s about political acceptance. It’s about making sure your taya jaan (paternal uncle) is happy, and keeping your neighbouring uncles and aunties from gossiping. It’s about making babies, which we’ve been told is essential to our happiness. Love and sexual satisfaction to the institution of marriage are like a layer of malai (cream) on your chai; it’s nice if it’s there, but they’re not considered essential.

In a world where gay people are not allowed to live happily with one another, their only option is to live with you. That’s why you, a straight man or woman, must roll the dice and hope that the person your parents hitched you with isn’t secretly homosexual. That is the price you must pay for not allowing gay people to exist safely and proudly in a parallel universe, and forcing them to merge into your world on your terms.

Now you’re afraid your wife/husband might be gay. How did you end up in this situation? You ended up in this situation because he/she wasn’t given a choice to be anything other than your husband/wife. It happened because the day she wept and came out to her family as gay, her parents told her that marrying a man would “fix” her. Did you fix her? Of course you didn’t, because sexual orientation doesn’t work that way.

Your entire life, you’ve maintained the opinion that gay people must learn to suppress their orientation, for the sake of religion, culture or the family’s honour. And now your husband/wife is gay, and you’re locked in that struggle with him/her. You helped reinforce heteronormativity, the erasure of gay people, the denial of their orientation and their rights to live their lives on their own terms. Now you’re trapped in a marriage where your spouse, despite his or her best efforts, can offer you neither sexual satisfaction nor love. I hope your mother and father, aunties and uncles, are all happy with the rishta (relationship) they forged; because you now have to live with the consequences of our combined homophobia.

Inside the community, activists condemn a gay man who marries a woman, simultaneously betraying his own identity and depriving his straight wife of a healthy marital relationship. Being gay is about more than sexual interaction with members of the same gender; it’s about love, and it’s also about a political commitment to one’s identity. A progressive person tends to support gay people who know who they are, stand by their identities, and remain single despite enormous socio-political pressures against them.

But the straight world cannot complain. You cannot fault gay people for playing by the rules you wrote. You cannot condemn gay people for entering straight marriages, when you made it obligatory for every person to marry, and whispered mercilessly behind the backs of unmarried 36-year-olds.

Gay people exist irrespective of our opinions on the morality of their actions. They spend their entire lives feeling afraid, ashamed, trapped and futureless. If you are a heterosexual spouse of a homosexual person, you may sample the same cocktail.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Tooba Chaudhry

    A rather bold perspective for our society, but I appreciate how you presented the idea. I am not sure if sexual orientation is more of a biological or social issue. However, it is the truth that they do exist. And it is important for us to deal with them in a certain way, rather than making them suppress the truth. But the concept of faith and questionable sexual orientation does not align, which is a bigger factor than culture and societal norms, so that’s another debate.Recommend

  • Alyenah

    What an insensitive article. Yes, we are homophobic nation, yes there are laws that prosecute the LGBTI community. There is a dire need to change our customs and to introduce legal reforms to protect the rights of the LGBTI. However, this does not justify ruining someone else’s life.Recommend

  • in oceanside

    Society/culture/religion may attempt to influence the decisions (in this case) of LGBT people. Ultimately we ALL have choices. To CHOOSE to lie to an unwitting spouse, for whatever reason, is inexcusable. Until you’ve lived through the nightmare of a spouse coming out after a 30 year marriage, or lived in the closet and lied to a spouse for thirty years, you need to shut up. No one gets a pass. Sadly, in this instance, the people who nearly always pay the consequences for this choice are the most innocent: the straight spouse and the children. Society pats LGBT closeted spouses on the back, holds parades for them, celebrates their “authenticity”, while the rest of the family is left in tatters.Recommend

  • gp65

    So what should they do to protect themselves from homophobia?Recommend

  • gp65

    If a society just offers two choices:
    1) To suffer homophobia and potentially even violence and imprisonment
    or
    2) To pretend to be straight
    Most people would prefer the 2nd option.Recommend

  • Sally Anne Richards

    The author agrees with you. What he’s saying is that if you don’t want to get trapped in the wrong marriage, you must join the effort to overturn the system that allows it to happen. He’s not justifying what happens, he’s asking you to hellp make it stop, and if won’t help make it stop, then you are tacitly approving of it, and you have no right to complain if the system traps you too. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. That’s what he’s saying.Recommend

  • Sally Anne Richards

    “Society pats LGBT closeted spouses on the back, holds parades for them…”,

    Correction: Society does NOT pat closeted spouses on the back or hold parades for them. How would that be possible if they’re in the closet? Society recognizes and acknowledges LGBT people who have come out of the closet. There aren’t any Closeted Gay Pride Parades. This is not splitting hairs. This is a profound and critical distinction from the way you phrased it, and the language you use to describe it will keep the anger and pain alive. Nobody celebrates closeted gay people, except those who wish LGBT people didn’t exist in the first place..

    And I hope you understand that Oceanside is not in Pakistan, and that this article was describing the situation in Pakistan. He’s not blaming straight spouses for what happens, he is indicting an unfair system that traps both the gay and the straight spouse both in bad marriages. Did you read the part about how the parents decide their children’s partners for them? Do you understand what a caste system is in Muslim dominant societies? Do you understand that he’s not writing about Americans, who have personal freedom to make choices that are unknown to Pakistani families. Open your eyes and ears and realize that there is a bigger world than Oceanside. If you can do that, maybe you’d understand that the author was asking straight spouses to help LGBT people overturn and change an inherently unfair system that traps them and gay people both in these marriages. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. He’s on your side, Why can’t you be on his side?Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    ruining someone else’s life? how is it ruining someone else’s life when both the guy and the girl’s families fully willingly agree to give off their daughter to someone who is gay for sake of, as the author pointed out, financial security.

    its the gays who suffer but you are more concerned about the bride? shame on you.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    excuse me. what other option do u recommend for gays before they are forced by society and everyone else to get a forced marriage? announce to everyone in their conservative pakistani families that they only fantasize about other men ? yeah that will go down really well.

    your comment is highly insensitive. you sound like a typical straight male chauvinist egoistic pakistani man who will probably never understand what mental emotional psychological stress gay men in pakistan have to go through every day trying to balance culture, religion, family values and what not.
    But yeah, lets all hold a moment of silence for poor pakistani princesses who is end up going to still get her man, still get her kids, get her house, get the perfect wedding she had always dream about but who cares right? lets blame the evil gay dude for daring to ‘ruin’ the woman’s life.

    how does the woman’s life end up getting ruined if society and pakistani cutlure is literally FORCING the poor gay man to get married to a woaman? i dont get it.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    “But the straight world cannot complain. You cannot fault gay people for playing by the rules you wrote. You cannot condemn gay people for entering straight marriages, when you made it obligatory for every person to marry, and whispered mercilessly behind the backs of unmarried 36-year-olds.”

    THIS. This perfectly summs up pakistani society as a whole.

    This is why I get upset with yall when someone ignorantly baffles out “if you are gay, why try to ruin the girl’s life” and my response to those lugheads is ” LIKE THEY HAVE A CHOICE?? “especially in a pakistani society.

    On a positive, I have come across a few instances where someone gay is stuck in a straight marriage. Wifey knows as well and is supportive of her ‘gay’ husband..so its not all doom and gloom like most pakistani liberals are making out to be over here. Also, its their personal matter. When was the last time you people wrote article about showing same amount of concern for helping jobless youth found jobs but when it comes to marraige / love you guys start to take deep personal interest in that person as if u r soo concerned for their wellbeing.

    this is the same parha likha nation that resorts to killing the other person over a minor road rage but at the same time are sooo conerend about the poor gays trapped in forced marriages.

    Are you going to be at my deathbed or support me when im dying in my final stage of cancer? Well unless u do, u have 0 right to be concerned if my sexuality is going to ruin or prosper my marriage of im single or not or why am i not getting married? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

    I would happily marry a gay man. Atleast they wont beat their wives like straight egoistic barbaric mentally regressive straight pakistani men.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    do rape victims get a choice of escaping their unfortunate fate? do honor killing victims get to CHOOSE whether they will be killed in honor killings or not?
    do victims of domestic abuse get to have a choice between a happy marriage and a toxic marriage?

    Similary, gay men who are victims of forced arranged marriages dont ever get to choose whether they will get married or remain single.

    which privileged world are you living in?

    speak only from experience. ive seen what my gay friend had to go through and it was HELL. If he had a choice, he would gladly distance himself from desi marraige mafias of pakistan but this is the pakistani society we are talking about. I dont understand how unemphatic bigots like you can just hold the gays responsible for ”ruining the straight spouse’s life ”

    Shame on you for posting such a highly uneducated insensitive comment.Recommend

  • SikanderG

    This is a nice effort from an ally, but it’s still heterocentric. Why assume the reader of the article is straight? Also some people are completely gay or straight, even if not all people are.

    General rule: let gay people speak for themselves. Allies should not put themselves too much in a leadership position in any movement.Recommend