Hi, my husband is gay. I love him and I don’t know what to do.
That’s how my wife introduced herself to two guys she met at Woody’s, the most popular gay bar in Philly. She left me in line to check our coats and wandered off to the bar. As I waited in line, I kept trying to grab her attention. I didn’t feel comfortable and I wanted her close to me. But she was busy talking. Really? We just got here and she’s already chatting away with two strangers?!
One guy was much older, maybe late 50s. The younger one looked 30, if that. I’d heard how common it was for gays to date way outside their age range. Whatever. It was turning out to be an interesting evening. Earlier, we watched an awful movie about gay romance. The entire night was her idea.
“Hey”, I said, as she handed me a beer. Oh my god, you’re not going to believe this! Guess What? This is Peter and his son Tommy. Peter used to be married too! I shook my head. Hi Henry, I’m Peter, nice to meet you. Peter was so warm and the perfect gentleman. Your wife is wonderful and we’ve heard some great things about you too!
Their story broke my heart.
It was the 1970s. Peter was terribly conflicted about his sexuality but decided to get married anyway. Listening to him, I sensed he did it because he hoped his same-sex attractions might fade and because he craved to be normal. His wife was devastated and unforgiving. He loved his kids and she punished him by taking them away. He tried everything to stay close to them. She made it impossible. Tommy was 7 and completely destroyed. They didn’t reconnect until he was in his 20s. Now, they are committed to making up for lost time.
I thought about my own kids. No way I could survive without them. Peter got up first. You’re a very lucky guy Henry. He gave Evelyn a big hug. And you are an amazing woman! We exchanged emails and promised to stay in touch.
That night at Woody’s was just a few months after Evelyn and I started dealing with my coming out. It was all so confusing. She was devastated. So was I. 14 years married, two kids. I was obsessed with two thoughts. What happens to my family? How could I have done this to her? Amazingly, as devastated as she was, she chose love and compassion. Sure, the four of us have been through some terrible pain. But because of the choices she made our family stayed together.
She put us on her shoulders and somehow found the courage to carry us all to a better place. Because of what she did, she kept it all from falling apart and she let me go so I could be the gay man I was always meant to be.
Yes, I am a very lucky man.