MGM (Married Gay Man) /em ’dƷi: em/ (derogatory) A closeted homosexual in a heterosexual marriage. Usually applied to males, but can also describe a lesbian or bisexual whose spouse is unaware of their true sexuality.

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Whenever the “MGM” issue comes up on the blog, it’s always a cockfight between the Married/Soon-to-be-married guys and the self-proclaimed Never-to-be-married ones. At this rate, we will not make progress in this important conversation.

So here goes: 6 things we are doing wrong in the “MGM” conversation.

  1. Calling Married Gay People deceitful and hypocritical

This is from the gay camp that has vowed to not bow to social pressure to marry the opposite sex.

Not only does this reek of self-righteousness, it is a callous thing to say. Given Nigeria’s hostile climate to LGBT persons, calling a gay person in a heterosexual relationship a deceiver makes it seem as though these men deliberately set out to hurt their partners. You don’t even know their story! It’s cute to argue that no one is “forced” to marry, but fact remains: society is powerful. Unless you want to live by yourself in some undiscovered island, you cannot avoid being pressured and/or influenced by the people around you.

  1. Calling Married Gay People hedonistic two-timers

This is similar to calling bisexuals greedy. If you truly think that a man/woman in a relationship that does not fulfil them—so much so that they continually seek happiness outside of that relationship—is “enjoying the best of both worlds”, then you need to think again.  You cannot put a price tag on that kind of suffering.  Again, know the story before judging.

  1. Saying that ALL Married Gay Persons are unhappy in their marriages

How do you know? They told you this? Let’s start by defining “happiness”…


  1. Saying that marriage is something you have chosen to do

This one is from the camp of the Married or Soon-to-be-married Gay guys. It is a weak argument—why? When an action or behaviour is normative, it becomes difficult separating who is doing it because they want to from who is doing it because they are expected to.

Nigerian society finds two kinds of people odd: non-heterosexuals and the unmarried. Past a certain age, if you are not married, that becomes how people define you. They will ask why and what’s keeping you? Your achievements can be sidelined just to discuss your unmarried status. Nobody asks you why you want to get married—they’ll simply congratulate you. So “choice” as an argument for being a Married Gay Person proves little. You wanna know what choice is? Try NOT getting married and watch what happens.

  1. Asking “What is wrong with a gay person marrying the opposite sex”?

Nothing! Who said there was?

There’s such a thing as a Mixed-Orientation Marriage (MOM) – two partners with different sexual orientations: homo + bi, hetero + bi, homo + hetero, etc. Remember that scene in The Imitation Game where Keira Knightley slapped Benedict Cumberbatch for wanting to call off their engagement? That was a MOM she was proposing (gay boy, straight girl). There are millions of couples world over in MOMs. While some have been open about it and built happy marriages, others end up divorced, and still others…er, well, one spouse’s skeleton is still in the closet.

The “MGM” debate is not concerned with gay people marrying the opposite sex; it is concerned with gay people marrying the opposite sex IN ORDER to “fit in” and hide their true sexuality.

  1. Saying “There are many things that make a marriage work besides a compatible sexual orientation.”

Of course, we know that! We also know there are several reasons people get married which have nothing to do with “love” or sexual attraction. Some people are married for money, career, companionship, green card. But marriage is, technically, a romantic arrangement. So, marrying for any other reason, or outside of a sexual orientation that’s compatible with yours, should be the exception, not the rule.

How We Can Get This “MGM” Conversation Right

  1. By retiring that term “MGM”. This is not an us-vs.-them
  2. By being honest.
  3. By not daring an “MGM” to out himself to his partner. That is not the point.
  4. By the “MGMs” not trying to justify the secrecy; that, too, defeats the purpose of this conversation.
  5. By not being judgmental.
  6. By remembering that different environments determine how we handle our sexuality. (Even gay couples from tolerant climes are warned not to travel to homophobic countries for their honeymoon, to avoid stories that touch.)
  7. No side in this conversation should condescend to the other. After all, it’s the same 14 years for everybody, if prosecuted for homosexual activity.
  8. Married gay/bi persons should speak up more. Share their experiences, challenges, epiphanies, joys.

The “MGM” conversation is not about individual persons or their marriages and children. It is about an ISSUE, a valid concern of every LGBT person in Nigeria. There are many gay people who do not want to be pressured to marry the opposite sex. There are many gay people who want out of their “heterosexual” marriages. There are many bisexuals who know that if their opposite-sex spouse finds out that they actually swing both ways, there will be blood. And it wouldn’t matter if the said bisexual person had been faithful to that marriage.

We should be having this conversation in a way that addresses the problem. Not looking for who to call a hypocrite, or a career homosexual who doesn’t realise it’s time to quit this “habit” and do as their mates have done. ■

Written by Absalom

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