Sleep­ing with other peo­ple’s hus­bands

GA Voice - - LGBT ATLANTA -

“But there are some gay cou­ples who be­lieve their re­la­tion­ship is real, their love wor­thy of com­mit­ment and pro­tec­tion, and they ex­change vows with­out the ex­pec­ta­tion of sex­ual ex­clu­siv­ity. If you should ever have the chance to spend the night with this type of couple, to­gether, some of my fa­vorite.”

He was the last per­son I ex­pected to make my hot­line bling af­ter the dozens of pho­tos he was tagged in on Face­book the pre­vi­ous week­end.

“You should prob­a­bly enjoy your hon­ey­moon,” I replied with a kiss-blow­ing emoji. “Soak up this spe­cial mo­ment, and maybe we can con­nect soon.”

I closed the text mes­sage and re­flex­ively tapped the Face­book icon for dis­trac­tion. In the few sec­onds it took my news­feed to load, I con­tem­plated hav­ing just ca­su­ally agreed to have sex with a mar­ried man.

More specif­i­cally, with a man I knew was mar­ried, freshly mar­ried, be­cause I had just seen pic­tures of him and his groom. He and his hus­band. He and his hus­band’s par­ents.

Be­fore I could re­solve the ethics of my text con­ver­sa­tion, a pic­ture ap­peared on my news­feed an­nounc­ing that an­other of my reg­u­lar hookups was now mar­ried. I was sud­denly woozy from how wrong I had been in think­ing the le­gal­iza­tion of same-sex mar­riage wouldn’t have any im­pact on the daily life of a gay bach­e­lor with no in­ter­est in get­ting mar­ried.

Hook­ing up with a mar­ried man has al­ways been non­nego­tiable for me, with the caveat that screen­ing for mar­i­tal sta­tus is tra­di­tion­ally lax. How­ever, be­ing a “mar­ried man” had al­ways meant to me that there was a wife in­volved, which guar­an­teed that there were se­crets, de­cep­tion and emo­tional dam­age at­tached to such a li­ai­son, and so it was not some­thing in which I wanted to par­tic­i­pate.

I don’t au­to­mat­i­cally as­sign such sin­is­ter ab­so­lutes—se­crets, de­cep­tion, emo­tional dam­age—to a mar­ried man who has a hus­band, and I re­al­ize that’s a self-serv­ing cour­tesy. It’s harder to feel guilty about vi­o­lat­ing some­one’s mar­riage, hurt­ing their un­sus­pect­ing part­ner, when you ex­cuse your­self from know­ing the rules that gov­ern their mar­riage.

I know the rules that gov­ern straight hus­bands, and how most of them vi­o­late those rules by sleep­ing with some­one other than their wives. I know that, out of a mix­ture of kind­ness and lazi­ness, so­ci­ety now as­sumes those same rules, the rules that straight men vi­o­late all the time, ought to ap­ply to gay hus­bands, and many of us gaily ac­cept those rules to gov­ern our love, to make our mar­riages real.

But there are some gay cou­ples who be­lieve their re­la­tion­ship is real, their love wor­thy of com­mit­ment and pro­tec­tion, and they ex­change vows with­out the ex­pec­ta­tion of sex­ual ex­clu­siv­ity. If you should ever have the chance to spend the night with this type of couple, to­gether, some of my fa­vorite—

Sorry, dif­fer­ent col­umn. For now, most gay men seem to ac­cept the rule that life­long love re­quires sex­ual fidelity, and if they en­ter into mar­riage, they ex­pect monogamy from their partn– from their hus­bands. Which forces me to de­lib­er­ate what, if any, obli­ga­tion I have to a spouse that I don’t know, some­one so naive that I, with all of my de­lib­er­a­tion, am the least of their wor­ries.

It’s all some­thing new to keep it in mind while wad­ing through the post-Oberge­fell dat­ing pool. Le­gal­ized same-sex mar­riage wasn’t sup­posed to make my care­free love life el­i­gi­ble for a “Jerry Springer” episode or “World Star” video.

Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

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