My name is A, and I am a twenty-eight-year-old Arab Muslim Palestinian. I come from a society that will never accept I am gay. I am well educated, successful, and I speak four languages. Social media has made it easier for me to chat with friends from all over the world. A few months ago, I met a sixty-five-year-old Jewish man from Israel online, which further complicates our relationship. I have fallen in love with him. I have never felt toward another man the way I feel toward him. We have managed to meet a few times, but it is very hard. I don’t want to get married to a woman.
I have three problems: (1) I am from Palestine and he is from Israel; (2) I cannot tell my family about this relationship, and it would be difficult to meet him in another country without some explanation to them; and (3) I have been thinking of ending my business to move somewhere so I can be with this man. I would like to hear your opinion on my situation.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know that even telling me this involves some risk to you. I frequently hear from others who live in cultures hostile to homosexuality, particularly Muslims and Arabs from the Middle East; however, your situation has some unique circumstances. Even here in the United States, where same-sex marriage is legal, some men are caught in the crucible with the volatile elements of culture, religion, and sexuality.
I am a gay-leaning bisexual man, and I still love my wife after being married for forty years. I’m struggling with the morality, risks, and benefits of “coming out.” There doesn’t seem to be a good way to do this as a bisexual without harming my wife, damaging our relationship, and complicating her relationships with our mutual friends and family. My wife and I are monogamous, and I have no interest in changing that. What is to be gained by being publicly open? Did you ever consider coming out as bisexual? Perhaps it’s a generational issue.
Coming out is not an event but rather a process. Some people believe that unless you make a public declaration of your sexual orientation, you haven’t completed that process. I disagree. Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson.
I am a man in my early thirties, and I’ve only recently realized I’m gay after having unexpectedly fallen for a man who rocked me to my core. It was incredibly hot, sexy, and intense, but we connected in so many other ways too. I am not currently seeing him because I must work some things out. I’ve now come out to my wife whom I love. She believes that if I work hard enough on this, I can change, but deep down, I know I don’t want to change. How can I help her understand that being gay isn’t something I can change and because of it I can’t ever give her what she really needs?
Imagine being in a jail cell and standing at the door looking through the bars, wondering how you can escape. After struggling at the gate for a long time, you look to your left and then to your right. There are no walls there, only ones you imagined. You discover you can escape, but only by changing the directions through which you’re trying to escape. That is where you are now. Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson!
I am in my early thirties, and I came out about a year ago after years of casually dating women while having discreet sexual encounters with men much, much older than me. Since coming out, I have tried to date guys closer to my own age but have found that the sexual attraction just isn’t there for me.
I am grappling with the fact that my desires are what they are and trying to reconcile them with expectations for where I want to be in my own life, how I present myself to others, and my fear of judgment from friends and family.
Why don’t I feel the same attraction to guys closer to my own age than I do to guys 20–30+ years older than me? How could a 65-year-old man and I possibly live every day together? I feel that I should be seeking a more “practical” lifelong partner. We are so vastly different in terms of schedule and lifestyle. These are the questions I ask myself.
This is an important question and one I am asked about frequently. First, loving another person is never practical. Our attraction to another is not a rational process but happens due to forces outside of our consciousness and control.Continue reading
My husband is having an affair with a man. We have four young children. He moved out quickly after I discovered the relationship. I am worried about him and I don’t know how to make this better for him and for us. His kids miss him. I honestly thought we had a happy and loving marriage. Do you have any advice for me? Or for him?
Thank you for sending your question, and I’ve written a lot about how the gay spouse proceeds through this process. I only occasionally hear from women or men who have been left behind. So in this response, I’m going to focus on you and them. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Olson,
I was married to a “bi” man for over twenty years. We never told our son until we separated and were divorcing. He wanted to know why we were divorcing, so his dad told him. Our son was a teenager when my ex-husband disclosed this. How does keeping the sexual orientation of a parent secret from a child affect a child/teen/man psychologically? My ex had sex with only men besides me before and during our marriage and identified as openly gay after our divorce.
You have asked a good question that does not have an easy answer. First of all, it depends upon the child’s level of maturity and experience in the world. Continue reading
There appear to be plenty of novels regarding the coming out process for gays in one’s teens, but are there any that focus on the coming out trials of the much older man? I have yet to find any such invention. Do you know of any? If there are none, wouldn’t a skilled novelist articulate our difficulties and form a powerful commonality among those I imagine you encounter? Now in my sixth decade, I find myself most times in lonely despair.
Thank you for your nice comments about Finally Out. Many people share our story or something very similar to it.
I am concerned about your lonely despair. Even at your age, you can still successfully get through this process of coming out. In my research, the oldest man I came across was in his nineties when he came out, and he was living with his gay lover when I met him. The most important thing for you to do today, however, isn’t to seek out a lover but find friends, gay or straight, who accept you as you now have revealed yourself to your wife and, more importantly, to you. Continue reading
Hi, Dr. Olson,
I am a middle-aged divorced man, and since my divorce I have been struggling with my sexual identity. Perhaps I have always been in denial or confusion with my sexuality. Growing up I had female friends but felt intimidated by them sexually. My first sexual experience was with a childhood friend, but I felt sick, ashamed, and guilty. This increased my need to always have a girlfriend to suppress this shame. Following my divorce, I felt incredibly lonely and started flirting with guys online. For the first time, I felt attractive. Who am I?
Your story is very familiar to me and not much different from my own. Some find it hard to believe that a man could reach middle age before questioning his sexual identity, but in my research, I have even interviewed a man in his nineties who, having lost his wife of over fifty years, began to explore his same-sex attractions. Seeking an answer to the question of who I am led me to write Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight. Continue reading
I recently received an email from the child of a parent who came out when this child was fourteen years old. In preparation for writing an essay about the experience, the child asked me a series of questions. My answer follows each question below.
- What was the aha moment that you had when you finally decided to come out to your family? To yourself?