My Clinical Experience with Gay Men who are Married to Women
After the Supreme court decriminalized consensual same sex activities & relationship in September 2018, many members of the LGBTQ community are coming out of the closet to discuss their mental health issues and to seek help resolving them. I have come across clients who consulted me with many complaints related to their sexuality. I am discussing a few examples here.
Dr. R, a Pulmonologist in his 40s working in one of the prestigious corporate hospitals in a metropolitan city consulted me online with primary complaints of anxiety & decreased libido. On further probing, he reported having homosexual attractions as long as he can remember and was indulging in same sexual activities. He got married to a woman thinking everything will be alright after marriage. He was able to consummate the marriage although with some difficulties in sexual intercourse. Once his wife got pregnant and went to her maternal house for childbirth, he started indulging in sexual activities with male partners. This continued even after his wife returned, and he had now lost complete interest in sexual intercourse with his wife. He started refusing any kind of sexual activities with her whenever she insisted. He stated that he had anxiety issues which was leading to decreased libido. He had started self-medicating with Sertraline 100mg and attributed his decreased libido to it while indulging in sexual activities with multiple male partners. Eventually, he was no longer interested in this marriage and was not able to deal with pressure of having coitus with wife. As he now had a 2-year-old daughter with his wife, he is reluctant to get separated from her as he loves his daughter and didn’t want to lose her.
An ex-army man in his late 30s who was married twice was brought to the clinic by his 2nd wife. It was a second marriage for her too and she had a daughter from her first marriage. The client was taking care of both, mother and daughter. He was posted in Rajasthan and was away from the family more often than not, where he indulged in sexual activities with his male counter parts in the army. He moved back to his village in Kolhapur after his retirement and continued to have both romantic and sexual relationships with his male partner spending most of his time in the hill stations of Kolhapur. He was not willing to come home and wasn’t remotely interested in sexual intercourse with his wife. When she demanded for it, he insisted to engage in anal sex. His wife was feeling humiliated, and the anal sex was painful but she continued to cooperate, hoping to convince him to stop meeting his male partner. However, he continued to meet him which prompted her to bring him to a psychiatrist to manage this condition. She was left heartbroken when she was told that as it was not an illness, there was no cure for his sexual orientation. She was not prepared for separation from her husband yet again as it would be nearly impossible for her to get married again after two failed marriages. She was financially dependent on her husband, and knew she would not be able to raise her daughter on her own.
An IT Professional from Madhya Pradesh was gay and completely aware of his orientation and its normalcy. He came out to his family when they were pressurizing him to get married and tried his best to explain why he couldn’t get married to a woman. His mother was an orthodox woman imbibed with a rigid set of rules and traditions and happened to be the matriarch of the family. She was shocked on hearing her son’s revelation and eventually developed severe depression. She was so disturbed that she stopped having food to the extent that made her lose weight which led to her hospitalization for management of complications related to malnutrition. Ultimately, the client had to agree to marry a woman. Now, he is married to a woman who lives in a different city. They rarely meet due to their work schedule and don’t indulge in sexual activities. They live life like acquaintances.
In another case, the client’s daughter was an Ophthalmology Postgraduate who contacted me to discuss about issues related to her father. Her father was a well-known person in his village and was showing symptoms of severe depression. When she started probing her mother for the reason for his suffering, she discovered the shocking news of his affair with his close male friend. Her mother knew from the beginning that her husband was both romantically & sexually involved with his best friend from the same village and she accepted the whole arrangement out of sheer helplessness. Though the client was from a nearby town, he had kept his family in a metropolitan city for his children’s education and used to visit them every weekend. He had recently had a major disagreement with his male partner which led to his partner cutting off all ties with him. Despite his best efforts, he could not reconcile with his partner and eventually found himself suffering from a depressive episode. Currently he is on antidepressants and improving, but the family is no longer the same as it was before.
These were only a few of my experiences that I could pen down here. There happen to be many people and families out there who have been struggling with similar problems. Most of these gay men were unaware about their sexuality and believed that everything was going to be alright after marriage. In spite of knowing their sexuality and adverse consequences of getting married to the opposite gender, many got married fearing that it was “abnormal” or that their family and society would not approve their choice, especially when it was still a criminal offence. Only after marriage did they realize their mistake. Now everyday was a challenge, and their life was left gloomy and miserable. The men were not the only victim here. The women have suffered a great deal of mental agony and are forced to carry the burden till the end. Sometimes the whole family gets affected, including the children and significant others. It becomes challenging for Mental Health Professionals to manage such situations when so many complexities are involved. There is a desperate need for awareness regarding homosexuality and its natural occurrence, and also its acceptance by the society without which unfortunate complications like those mentioned above will continue to plague families.
Dr. Vishwas Shrishail Yadawad