Bill’s daughter is our very own pride parade. She is one of the most supportive straight people I know. She confided to me a couple of months ago that she seems to be a “gay magnet” because she realized that a lot of her friends are gay guys. She and her partner, the father of her children, have a very active social life and even though they live in a relatively small community (about 25,000 people), their circle of friends has a high proportion of gays within it.
When we have a party, as we do every Christmas season, it is usual for Bill’s daughter to bring some of her straight and gay friends with her. We always chuckle at this because, here we are, a couple of 50+ dudes, and the 25 year olds want to party with us. It’s a two hour drive from their town to Bill’s house so we often put them up overnight. Last Christmas was the first time that a gay male couple, friends of Bill’s daughter, stayed over with us.
We really enjoyed their company. After everyone went home, we stayed up until the wee hours discussing life and love. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how they grew up, how they came out, how supportive (or not) their families and friends were. In this case, I also learned that I went to elementary school with one their cousins. It truly is a small world.
Here’s where I come to the subject of this post. Two months after this party, I found out that these two guys had split up. I was shocked and saddened by this news. Shocked because they seemed so “together”, so “forever”. As we all know, relationships have their ups and downs and sometimes they don’t survive. Goodness knows, some of us take longer to figure that out than others (in my case 20 years).
I’m not sure why, but when I hear that a gay male couple go their separate ways, I am truly saddened. What puzzles me about this is that I don’t feel the same way when I hear that straight couples split. I also don’t have this reaction when lesbians split up. Sure, I’m sorry for the individuals going through the grief of a lost relationship but when gay men split up, it strikes me deeper. It seems to go to my core. Is it because I fear that it’s not possible for gay men to make a lifelong commitment? Is it because I fear that it’s so much harder for a gay man to find a suitable partner again, given we are a minority in society? Why is it?
My co-worker, Mary Anne has a gay son who I’ve never met. He’s previously had a tumultuous life but he is now in a committed partnership and everything seems to be working out fine for them. As often as seems reasonable, I enquire with Mary Anne as to how they are doing. She probably wonders why I’ve taken such an interest in two people I don’t know. I think deep down, I desperately want them to make a success of their commitment to each other. I want the world to see that it is possible for gay men to “settle down” and lead “regular” lives.
Truly, all other relationships than my own are none of my business but nevertheless, when I hear that gay male couples have split up, my heart bleeds . . .