When your husband comes out gay

The truth is there is no medicine for changing sexual orientation. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

Many gay men and women end up marrying people of the opposite sex. This is the story of Mark and Anita

At the age of 40, Mark, a high school teacher, was having sex with his wife as well as with a fellow man. He then got into a complicated situation: his partner's wife got to know what they were doing and threatened to kill him. Anita, his wife, also got wind of the issue and was up in arms. And so Mark had two women baying for his blood. That was not all. 

"If it were not for my boyfriend's wife, Diana, I would not be in this situation," Mark lamented, "but maybe I am also to blame, I should have known better."

Mark and Diana were colleagues in the school where he taught. They were, both married, but they got intimate after a while. To avoid being suspected or caught by their spouses, they introduced each other to their families as colleagues. Little did Mark know that this move would complicate his life even further.

"My affair with Diana went unnoticed but then her husband and I discovered that we were bisexual, and that is what has caused all the hullabaloo," Mark explained. 

"Yes, whatever happened to the man I married! I still wonder how you could allow yourself to touch a man," Anita shot back.

Mark went quiet, he gazed into space, helplessly. He was a man under siege. 

But this fiasco went beyond the sexual relationship. Diana complained to their employer and Mark was sacked. He was accused of unethical behavior with his workmates. Family finances began crumbling. It was mid-month and he had not paid rent and the landlord was threatening to throw them out.

"More important for me doctor, I want you to treat my husband," Anita explained, "I want him to be a man and stop enjoying being a woman."

Anita's distress was palpable. I found it important to explain to Anita and Mark the complexity of sexual orientation.

First, it is important to understand that up to 20 percent of the population have at one point or another in their lives had erotic feelings for people of the same sex. In many cases, the feelings are not strong and are not backed by action. Up to 6 percent of men and 4 percent of women however identify fully as same-sex oriented and are intimate with people of the same sex. They identify as gays or lesbians.

"So I am not alone. It is really a common thing?" Mark said.

"Stop justifying your actions or I will walk out of this session," Anita shouted back.

Well, due to socialization, many same-sex-oriented individuals may maintain heterosexual relationships but have clandestine same-sex relationships on the side. Some people start acting on their gay desires well into adulthood when they have more leeway to be autonomous. Many times most of them are already in heterosexual marriages. 

But the LGBTQ stories go beyond just pure gay/lesbian and bisexual orientations. As they say, there are many shades of gray in sexual orientation. Many cultures and religions outlaw most of the practices but of course, that has never changed the way people feel and behave.

Transgender individuals, for example, consider themselves to be living in the wrong body; the biologically male individuals consider themselves to be female, their male anatomy notwithstanding. Similarly, females have male brains that make them feel that they are in the wrong body. Most transgender individuals go for sex change so that the mind and body are in sync.

Then there are the intersexual individuals. They are neither male nor female and are considered a third gender in Kenyan law. Their sexuality may not fall in the typical hetero-homosexual spectrum. 

Yet still, some people are asexual. These are people who are not sexually attracted to anyone. They are happy and comfortable not engaging in sex.

"So can you please treat my husband?" Anita asked, weary of my unending lecture.

Unlike popular belief, there is no known cause of sexual diversity. Many theories have been developed to explain it but none is found to exclusively answer. Some theories pin it down to genetic make-up; that our sexuality is written in our genes and cannot be changed.

Other theories link it to socialization and social learning; that it is the way we have been brought up that makes us behave in the way we do sexually.

At one point, some scientists even theorised that diverse sexual orientation was a psychiatric disorder. This assertion has been used as an example of how personal values can influence science. Repeated studies have shown that there is nothing psychiatric about sexual orientation.

"So how do we help Mark?" Anita asked, "I feel you are avoiding my question." 

"I don't need help with my sexuality, I just want to be myself," Mark rattled back, "The help I need is to create peace with the women I have offended."

And with that Anita reached the peak of her tolerance. She walked out of the session. The truth is there is no medicine for changing sexual orientation.