Not infrequently it happens that a gay guy, who has lived for various reasons a hetero or pseudo-hetero life, finds himself, at some point, deeply embarrassed with his girlfriend, who notices something strange in the behavior of the guy and arrives to guess that her partner is gay. The girl demands clarity and the guy, in one way, struggles to break the relationship and for the other is very reluctant to come out with his girlfriend. Some girls, once they realize that their partner is gay, think it’s good to push him to come out to let him live his life more freely.
These two issues are illustrated in the following document. On March 14th, 2008, a woman writes to Gay Project from an Islamic country, claiming that if a girl notices that her boyfriend is gay, she has the right to know how things really are and claiming also that not to speak clearly on the part of the guy, it is a dishonest act towards his partner. The girl would also like to “help” her partner causing him to come out at least partially. This is the text of the email:
“Anonymous said. . . I just discovered this blog, I feel it’s serious and I liked it, and I write because of my boyfriend. I have serious doubts about whether he is gay but repressed, so he does not even admit it to himself, and I would like to understand it, I would like to understand.
In your blog I didn’t find any reference to this fact: how to help a man of extremely rigid and rational character, 37 years old, to let him find out if this (homosexuality) is his true nature? That is, how to help him come out in the open. I have to underline that we are not in Italy but in an Islamic country, where the traditional family is sacred and many gays take refuge in marriage to save appearances, or hide in a hamam, or in bars reserved for men only.
I have read the comments of women in your blog and I appreciate their sensitivity, and also yours in reserving a space for their stories. A woman feels, perceives and understands when something is wrong. . . And if she feels love, she will always try to help. But I do it also for another reason: if there is a lie, I want to know. In the blog you talk about gay morality/immorality, but in the end it is a question of clarity and honesty towards those who are close, whether men or women, if they are no longer the person of our dreams. Forgive me if I remain in anonymity, but I think maybe my question is too difficult and perhaps will not find an answer. Thank you . . . March 14, 2008 22.24″.
ANSWER: Dear Friend, I try to answer what you ask. First of all I will divide the answer into two parts, one on the causes of gay repression and the other on the “what to do” in particular by a woman, towards her boyfriend.
1) PERSECUTION OF GAYS
Human sexuality is an expression of individual freedom and personal freedom in sexual matters can be repressed in many ways, some of them constitute real forms of systematic persecution and we can even go so far as to apply the death penalty to the present day. Iranian President Ahmadinejad told speaking at a Columbia University conference that there are no gays in Iran as in Western countries. A declaration of this kind is self-commented. In those conditions the level of repression is such that no one declares himself homosexual and marriage for gay guys is the rule.
Out of respect for people who are forced to live in similar situations I would never say that they are “gay repressed” but that they are “gay persecuted” and that any behavior that tends to hide their sexual identity is fully justified, even that in the face of wives. It is not about lies but about survival instinct.
2) SOCIAL INTOLERANCE TOWARDS GAYS
In many countries, even Islamic, however, there is a slow evolution that, if it does not really promote the free expression of a gay culture, doesn’t criminalize the very fact of being gay. In situations like this (like the one concerning the country from which you contacted me) there are no “legal persecutions of gays” but the public opinion is still a thousand miles far from showing tolerance towards them. In these cases we can speak of a real social intolerance towards homosexuality. Situations of social intolerance towards gays are not only manifested in Islamic countries but also in Europe, where social structures are still closed and linked to traditional values.
A push to attitudes of closure, if not homophobia, comes from the Catholic Church and there are still, even in Italy, many situations in which I would certainly not recommend a gay guy to speak openly about his sexual orientation. In Italy, in some rare cases, thanks to a very traditional family education, there are still gay guys repressed enough to marry, in the belief that they have overcome their homosexuality. The variability of the framework of social intolerance towards gays is such that it makes no real sense to try to classify the possible coming out behaviors.
But I must stress that in some situations the cost of coming out can be very high. I have seen gay guys forced to emigrate because they would not have found work in their countries and would have been hindered in the most varied ways. In any case, the coming out risk assessment is exclusively up to those who have to put it into practice. This is a very personal choice, like that of marriage, which cannot be conditioned by any request for clarity, from whoever it comes, for the simple fact that the consequences of coming out, under the regime of social intolerance, are all and only of the person that comes out. I answer directly to the specific question: “and the girlfriend of one of these guys (if there is one)?” The girlfriend (if there is one) can go his own way but must remember that the coming out is not addressed to her but it is an act very personal and risky on the part of the guy.
I saw with my own eyes situations of authentic moral lynching as a result of gossip unleashed by confidences thoughtlessly entrusted to friends by a girl who had received the coming out of her boyfriend. I emphasize another thing that may not be pleasing to women in love with gay guys, a gay guy can have a real interest in declaring himself to another guy that he thinks is gay to create the conditions for a possible couple bond, in that case the risk has an objective justification, in the case of the coming out towards a girl, however, the risk does not correspond to any possible benefit, especially if the relationship with that girl was built exclusively for the purpose of saving appearances. It is up to the guy, after carefully assessing the risk levels, to choose if, possibly, to come out in front of his girlfriend, but I wouldn’t absolutely consider this type of coming out as an obligation and omitting it like a lie.
3) FAMILY INTOLERANCE TOWARDS GAYS
The most common and the most insidious form of repression of gays, both in Islamic countries and in Europe is the family one. Persecutory behaviors and social intolerance generally are clearly perceived and are recognized as such, while family intolerance is gradually absorbed step by step, it is essentially a poison of freedom that tends to extinguish it from the beginning. The lack of freedom is clearly felt when moving from a regime of freedom to one of absence of freedom or when confronting scenarios of freedom and scenarios of repression, but when one grows up in a repressive environment and when one receives information from a single source one also has no awareness of the existence of a possible freedom and repression becomes a deeply internalized mental habit lived as a natural and spontaneous thing.
Such models have also characterized European culture until the advent of the internet. Even today, in Europe, a guy will never receive a serious sex education at school and even more so will never receive the correct information about homosexuality (just think that sex education is often delegated to priests and teachers of religion who, given the a priori condemnation of homosexuality on the part of the Church, are certainly not the best sources of information about gay life). Even today, in Europe, a guy will hardly have the opportunity to talk about sex with his parents and less than ever will have the opportunity to talk to them about homosexuality. Until a few decades ago, the only information on homosexuality could be found on a few serious books that a guy would have had difficulty buying and he would have to carefully hide.
The weight of family intolerance is progressively decreasing, especially among younger guys, thanks to the Internet, which in recent times has begun to spread a model of homosexuality as normality that is slowly gaining momentum. The word “gay” itself, until twenty years ago practically a taboo for right-thinking guys, is now in common use and the implications of ridicule or irony are gradually disappearing. Where there is no internet, or internet is not free, however, the situation is still as it was in Italy 30 years ago. The cases in which family intolerance leads gay guys to feel themselves heterosexual, at least in Europe, today are limited to situations in which a guy is automatically induced to forms of uninhibited heterosexuality at an extremely early age, in such cases a very young guy can make the first hetero experiences, which can have an anaesthetizing value for years but, I want to underline that these guys do not tell lies to their girls, they feel substantially straight. Also in this case, therefore, I would not speak of lies or deception.
THE GIRL HELPS THE GUY TO ACCEPT HIMSELF AS A GAY
The expression “Red Cross nurses” (in Italian Crocerossine) in the gay world is used with two distinct meanings:
– “hetero Red Cross nurse” to indicate a straight girl who, knowing that her boyfriend is gay, puts in mind that she is able to make the guy straight just through the classic means of female seduction,
– “gay Red Cross nurse” to indicate a straight girl who, suspecting that her boyfriend is gay thinks she can “help” him to be gay, pushing him to come out.
Several times on the Gay Project forum the expression “Red Cross nurses” has been used very appropriately to define girls who want to help their boyfriends to accept themselves as gay.
I briefly summarize the terms of the question. A girl who realizes that her boyfriend is gay, if she wants to do a good thing, has to let him go on his way. Every attempt to “help” is seen by the gay guy as an undue interference or even as a form of violence, while it’s useful to the girl to feel like a good girl.
In the case of the e-mail from which this post has taken the cue, with a 37-year-old guy, in conditions of strong environmental stress, demanding clarity is basically a form of violence. If there is something that girls emotionally involved with gay guys can do, it is always and in any case to leave to their partners the maximum freedom and don’t expect anything.
Between accepting and understanding there is a huge difference, love, at any level, is acceptance, those looking for an explanation are not able to accept unconditionally. To answer with the utmost clarity: if a girl realizes that her partner is gay, she has to leave him to himself avoiding to conceive any projects of any kind on him that, even under the appearance of the best intentions, risk hiding a predatory attitude. I realize that our reader will not like an answer like this but, for the experience that I have of the gay world, I know for sure that the gay guys don’t like Red Cross nurses.
If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-coming-out-gay-guys-and-girls-as-red-cross-nurses