Yesterday on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the topic was gay husbands. Meaning, the focus of the show was really straight women who wake up one day to learn that their husband of 7 or 15 years is gay. Some of the men had long-term relationships, some just slept around; one of them had more than 1000 sexual partners throughout his thirty year marriage.
The show was frustrating, because Oprah didn't seem to get it. I think she dumbs herself down for the at-home audience -- asking the questions that not so much she wants to hear, but that they want to hear, asking her guests over and over again for a simpler explanation.
"Why do you get married in the first place?" Oprah asked.
The men gave the usual answers: I thought I would change; I was really in love with her; I thought that it had been only one time with a man and that the feelings would pass.
These are not, however, the reasons.
What do we value in this country? Marriage, family, money, success, fame, having a strong religious faith (of a certain kind, of course,) and perhaps education, though I am reluctant to add that one. What we don't value is personal happiness. Which is to say that until gay people are 1) considered a whole, essential, integral part of our society, and 2) given the same rights as every individual living in that society, then gay men will forever marry straight women as a way of arriving at those very values that we hold high. Only until there is a new normal.
Never did the idea come up -- which is to say that Oprah never mentioned this idea -- that gay people are maligned, disenfranchised, oppressed, made jokes of. And periodically tied in chains and dragged behind pick up trucks until their limbs come off, or barb-wired to fences, beaten and left for dead in the desert.
"I still don't understand why you would get married in the first place," Oprah kept asking. None of the men gave the real answer: Because I didn't want to be one of them.