A year later, Megan realised she needed to let go of the anger when she collapsed with internal bleeding caused by a stress-related ulcer. Steven got a new boyfriend, who Megan adored. Clearly distraught, Megan stops the interview as she describes watching the men become paraplegic, then die. Lucy, now 24, hid at school the fact her dad was gay. But she admits to hoping for a deathbed confession. Why marry me? Common themes emerge from their 20 stories. The physical impact of the sheer shock on these women is confronting.
Some describe feeling like widows; the men they knew were apparitions.
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And many of the men, emboldened by the sense of freedom and fresh excitement afforded them by discovering the gay scene, completely transformed. Amal describes the impact it had on her children. The way he walked, sat, smiled, dressed — all changed. Others, convinced the problem was their own inadequacy, describe similar complex relief. But that relief is often accompanied by anger. Several women, half-jokingly, discuss hiring hitmen. There were no repercussions for him. My anger was mind-blowing. Some reactions are more surprising. Service manager Roxanne says a post-disclosure honeymoon period can happen, and sex begins again because it brings back emotional intimacy.
Such was the case for Madeleine. The first time it happened, I cried. It had been eight years. Just like many gay men do, their wives can go through denial periods, Roxanne says, believing they can work things out. For some like Val, they make a conscious or practical decision to stay; her husband was 72 when she found out.
We talk a lot. Elizabeth is reflective on how she ended up with her husband. She even picked him up from his first date with a man.
I ask her if any were no voters, given their experiences. Megan Holgate relates to that. She remembers being unable to go to Mardi Gras one year her colleagues invited her, as the sight of two men kissing was just too distressing. Roxanne challenges me when I put it to her that this could soon be a social phenomenon of the past.
LGBT rights. The relationship blossomed and eventually, we were spending entire weekends together, with him telling his family he was working away. He was very keen for us to leave our respective partners so we could move in together and start a new life as a couple. This new man in my life made me incredibly happy.
So I ended my four-year relationship and a few days later, he told his partner he wanted to break up, but he that would stay in the family home for the sake of their teenage son.
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My work contract ended and I moved back to my hometown just before Christmas. I moved into a new house and he drove down to visit each weekend. He begged her to have an abortion and says that he even told her he was gay, but she is insisting on having the baby. He is a good father and insists he wants to stick by her and support their child and baby, which, of course, I respect him for. Do you think I am best walking away or sticking by the man I love?
I just feel that if I do try and stick by his side I will always resent the baby because it will be from the night he cheated on me. You and this man both had long-term partners and a chance meeting clearly led to earth-shattering excitement and what seemed like an emerging relationship.
But an apparent and sudden change of mind has broken your heart. I get the sense from your letter that you may be trying to show him in a very positive light but actually, you feel angry and betrayed by his decision to stay with his long-term partner and baby. You ask me if you should live in hope of resurrecting what you had with this man or walk away. But I was particularly curious about the line in your letter that refers to his having cheated on you and how that has resulted in the birth of the child that now apparently prevents him from being with you.
But I see this differently. This may sound harsh and of course, people are doing this all the time but it seems to me that your new love probably always saw his long-term partnership as the primary one. From what you say, he was also actually quite prescriptive with you, sometimes behaving as if he owned you.
He made it clear he was unhappy with you continuing to have sex with your partner and encouraged you to give that relationship up and yet, ultimately, he was clearly not prepared to take the same steps for himself that he advocated for you. Would you not always have been confused about what that really meant?
Even if this had felt OK in the first instance, I doubt that such an arrangement would have worked long term.