Why your husband might be gay
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.