Thursday, February 18, 2010

GLBTQ Encyclopedia: Why does a MOM occur in the first place?

By Mister Curie

The GLBTQ Encylopedia addresses an interesting set of questions: Why do gay spouses marry in the first place? Why do straight spouses--consciously and unconsciously--marry gay spouses?

From the Encylopedia:
Why Do Gays Heterosexually Marry?

Part of the answer to the first question is that our society does not grant permission for young people to explore alternative sexualities. Moreover, our culture places enormous pressure on individuals to conform, especially sexually. Heterosexuality and heterosexual marriage are privileged in all sorts of ways. It is much easier for young people to marry heterosexually than to discover their authentic selves.

Some of the gay men and lesbians who marry heterosexually hope that their gay urges will go away. More often, especially among lesbians, they are not even fully aware of their urges or at least have not labeled them when they marry.

Gay men and lesbians marry heterosexually for a variety of reasons, ranging from the need to conform to familial and societal expectations to a desire, founded on a genuine love for their partner, to create a shared life with their potential spouse. Some marry in order to have children, or to be taken care of, to bond with a mother or father figure, to establish a cover or "beard" for their gay activities, or in hopes that straight sex will "cure" their desire for homosexual relations or, at least, keep that desire strictly sexual.
As I have mentioned previously, I think I felt an enormous amount of societal and religious pressure that made it impossible for me to accept my homosexuality.  I was definitely not fully aware of my urges and had not labeled them in any way, so I did not feel at the time that marriage would be able to "cure" my homosexual desires.  While church cultural expectations likely contributed to my desire to get married, I genuinely fell in love with Madame Curie and wanted to share life (and eternity) with her and have us care for each other.  

As for my wife, I think that she married heterosexually for similar reasons (but correct me if I'm wrong, dear).  Despite having a girlfriend in high school, she had not labeled her attractions, and joining the church threw her back in the closet.  She also genuinely fell in love with me, but probably also felt some cultural pressure to conform, and above nearly everything, my wife loves to fit in.  This is the feminist who convinced herself she wanted to have 6 kids afterall! 

Again from the Encylopedia:
Why Straight Spouses Marry Gay Men and Lesbians

Most straight spouses marry gay men or lesbians without knowing that their partners are gay or lesbian. But some suspect it and others know it for a fact. Those who know of their spouse's homosexuality often think that their partners will grow out of their same-sex desires or that a good marriage will cause the desires to dissipate.

Some heterosexual men and women who marry gay spouses are enablers, people who display an approving and supportive attitude toward someone else's self-destructive behavior or make it possible for them to avoid the consequences of such behavior. Some straight spouses allow their gay and lesbian spouses to "act out" their same-sex desires without really acknowledging them, while neither of the spouses accepts the consequences of such behavior.

Some straight spouses may be unconsciously drawn to partners who might betray them. Perhaps while growing up, they experienced lies and witnessed emotional boundary violations that remained unresolved and left them traumatized. This kind of background can make the straight spouse unconsciously seek a "familiar" spouse who will violate trust.

Some women think of men with homosexual tendencies as challenges. They may believe that they are attractive enough to "convert" gay spouses or "rescue" them from a life of misery.
Other women are drawn to men who are not anything like their macho, patriarchal, abusive fathers in the hope that their partners will not sexually or otherwise overpower them.

Still other men and women marry gay or lesbian spouses out of unconscious interest in controlling or micromanaging a "flawed" partner.

Less is known about straight men who consciously or unconsciously marry lesbians, perhaps because these men usually do not talk about the subject and their reactions. They may find it humiliating to admit that their spouse prefers sexual relations with other women.
As neither of us were out fully to ourselves, I'm certain we did not marry each other hoping we could "cure" each other.  The discussion of enablers and betrayers also does not seem to fit our marriage.  Madame Curie has always been attracted to gay men, open or otherwise.  I think this has to do with the gay man being more aware of his emotions and not hijacking the relationship for physical pursuits.  She could have a serious discussion with me without worrying that all I could think about were her breasts.  There is probably also something to the desire to avoid a potentially patriarchal, macho, abusive relationship where she is not in control (this is the woman who wouldn't date tall men because they remind her of her tall father).  Madame Curie also likes to avoid "drama" and often finds women to be to "catty", so she often finds dealing emotionally with other women difficult.  I have a hard time identifying why I married a lesbian.  Certainly I married her because I fell in love with her and we connected on a deep intellectual and emotional level.  I had no suspicion that she was physically attracted to women and generally repulsed physically by men.  Perhaps I had a subconscious insecurity about being in a heterosexual relationship and Madame Curie put me at ease.  I do not find it humiliating that my wife prefers female anatomy, and I am relieved to know a reason for some of her revulsion toward "dangly bits". Whatever the reasons for marrying, our marriage is wonderful and works for us.  It is highly likely that our marriage works even better for us than it otherwise would because of our homosexuality.

Why do you think you married your spouse initially?  Why do you think your spouse married you?


  1. Dear Mr. Curie,

    I'm personally surprised to find out that your marriage is wonderful and works for Madame Curie and you in spite of your homosexuality. How do you do that? ^_^

    I wonder maybe one day I could become like you, even though I dont have any idea right now. (I'm still 21 and single. I plan to live in celibacy)

    Thank You
    Joned Rahadian

  2. I am impressed by how well you captured my feelings and motivations here. I think your explanations were largely spot-on. I also agree that I relate to the idea of not wanting to marry a man like my dad. My dad's main goal in dating is finding a hot girl. He encouraged my sister not to gain weight or stop wearing makeup after marriage, because her husband might look elsewhere. Plus as a kid he hurt me terribly and controlled every aspect of my life. I was terrified of him (still am to an extent). So, yes, I had a good sense of what I was trying to avoid in a husband.

    As far as the sexual aspect of things, you and I fell in love with each others' mind and spirit, not bodies. I was able to ignore your dangly bits because you were so gentle and understanding sexually. I know why now why you were never so agressive sexually, but it really doesn't bother me b/c its what I wanted.

    Its fun to discuss this. I like examining our motivations in life.

  3. I do think it would be very interesting for you to further understand and identify your reasons for marrying a lesbian.

  4. I entered a mixed-orientation marriage when I was 23 years old. The marriage lasted 5 years.

    I disclosed my homosexuality early in the relationship, only a few months after we started dating and many months before the engagement and eventual marriage.

    My motives for getting married were mixed. I had just returned from my mission and was very depressed. It was clear to me after my mission that I was completely, 100% gay. I had prayed to change, but nothing changed. I still loved men and not women. I didn't know any gay people, and I believed all of the negative things I had heard growing up. For example, I thought that gay people were not serious about life, that they had promiscuous sex, that they didn't form stable relationships, etc., etc. It all utter BS, but I believed it. I knew that I was a serious person. I wanted stability, respectability and family life. I knew that my parents wanted me to marry. I wanted to be a good person, and I wanted to do what the Church told me I should do. So I ran away from "being gay" and into a marriage with a woman. (It was a huge mistake.)

    I had enough integrity to know that I could not go into the marriage without telling my wife. I was not the kind of person who could get married and have guys on the side. (I was always 100% faithful during my marriage.) So I told the girl I was dating, and I also told her mother, who was a professional psychologist. They accepted this. I don't think they had had any real experience with gay people. I think they thought that it was something that would change over time. Also, they were very interested in having the marriage happen. I was a promising young man from a prestigious university (not BYU). I was what you would call a good prospect. I think these practical concerns influenced them a lot. A desire for financial security was part of their decision process. I only understood this years later.

    By the way, I have noticed more mixed-orientation marriages coming out of BYU than anyplace else. It seems like a MOM factory. This indicates to me that social pressures are at play. (That and a shockingly casual attitude toward marriage-- it is not uncommon for courtships to be a matter of weeks at BYU, something that is socially unthinkable outside the bubble).

  5. Hawaii - I agree with in your BYU assessment, both in terms of the quickness of marriage and the social pressure to "fix" one's gayness. I also think BYU and the Church encourage sexual repression of one's orientation, such that its not uncommon to have situations like ours where the person only realizes they are gay after they are married.

  6. Joned - I'm not sure how we do it, but if you keep reading the blog, perhaps you'll find out. I think it requires a couple of special people (and probably not knowing you are gay going into it). At this point, I would not recommend that you try to marry a woman.

    MC - perhaps you can help me identify why I would want to marry a lesbian. When I met you I didn't know you were lesbian and I didn't fall in love with you being a lesbian, but I did fall in love with you. Do you think it was unique aspects of who you are that I fell in love with, or was it something innate about you being lesbian? What characteristics would you say separate lesbian women from straight women that might be what I fell in love with? I'm not as familiar with the stereotypes of lesbians.

    MoHoHawaii - Thanks for sharing why you originally entered a MOM. I really appreciate it! I agree that there is a lot of social pressure to marry at BYU (and the church in general). I think that there are a lot of religious and social pressures that influence people to enter MOMs, both with and without knowledge of what they are getting into.

  7. You see the pressure for gay people to find straight spouses all over the place. For example, do a close reading of the comments on this thread of an LDS discussion board to see a typical example. There are a bunch of things going on here-- a reluctance to admit the existence of sexual orientation, denial of the importance of sexuality in pair bonding, uncertainty about whether to actively shun gay people or not (advice not to unintentially "condone" sin) and some overt encouragement for finding a straight spouse of the opposite sex to marry.

    It's funny that there's never any advice to a straight person to go find a gay person of the opposite sex to marry. It seems as if there should be some advice to this effect if it's such a great idea.

  8. MoHoHawaii - what a frustrating thread! More evidence of the unsafe place that Mormonism is for homosexuals and more evidence why so many of us end up in MOMs.

  9. I was in love with the idea of getting married because it was the "right thing to do". I was the good Mormon boy and wanted nothing more than to do what I was expected to do. I wasn't pressured to do it - I wanted to do it. And when I did feel attracted to one woman (the only woman I ever felt this way) I "knew" what I had to do / wanted to do.

    Though I'm still amazed that that attraction for my wife actually came (as I really don't see myself as bisexual as such attractions have never occurred again), I'm not amazed that I responded to it. It felt "right" and "good". It's that simple. What is amazing is that we are still able to be married and have become happier over the last few years (instead of the predicted disaster and divorce that was promised by a gay friend in encouraging me to come out and move on from marriage) and I can't imagine my life without her.

  10. @Beck - thanks for sharing. I also have a wonderful wife and I can't imagine life without her.