“I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is just as obvious to everyone else.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the past, whenever stories about gay men married to women (best known as MGM) have come up on Kito Diaries, there have been very polarizing reactions to such stories. In fact, the comments sections of such stories were usually so rife with incendiary opinions that it didn’t take long for any KDian to realize that MGM issues were a very controversial topic on this space.
Chief among these opinions that always stirred bad blood in the comments section was the belief (usually by anti-MGM KDians) that gay men – and indeed bisexual men – who wed women should always disclose their sexuality to their intended spouses before marriage. This point was usually argued with such a black-and-white simplicity that used to irk me very much, as though announcing to the woman you intend to marry that you’re also attracted to men is the tried-and-true solution to all our problems.
It was actually because of sentiments like this that I decided to embark on this series. As a bisexual man who, at the time, was in a serious relationship with a woman, I wanted to explore, for the enlightenment of this community, the experiences and struggles of same-sex loving men who find themselves in relationships with women. Granted, the fact that the series has been very infrequent with its episodes defeats this purpose, but I legitimately wanted to use myself as a study on how these decisions and choices the general public expects MGM (or MBM, in my case) to make aren’t so cut and dried.
Now, I cannot definitively speak to the struggle of the MGM who chooses to keep his sexuality a secret from his wife, because I in fact disclosed mine to my wife (then fiancée). It was a rocky situation, but it worked out alright. I was lucky, but that didn’t inoculate me from the understanding that my luck can’t be everyone else’s experience. And every time the sentiment that MGM should be “honest” (I roll my eyes every time I see these anti-MGM KDians use this word) with their spouses, I want to scream: “Do you know that oftentimes, the truth does NOT set you free?!!!”
Just ask Kenny Badmus.
After I got married, I embarked on a journey of a husband with a singular question in my head: Was telling my wife the truth about my sexual orientation a mistake?
I want to tell you two different stories that made me realize that this question couldn’t be easily answered.
After the birth of my first child, a good friend of mine visited. Because he lives in Lagos, he hadn’t been a fixture in my day-to-day life, and so, he was one of those friends of mine who my wife hadn’t met. So when he breezed in that evening, full of smiles and slightly-effeminate energy in spite of his long trip from the West, my wife’s reception of him was initially hesitant, like she couldn’t decide how to feel about this person her husband said is his good friend and yet he wasn’t present at his wedding. Eventually, she warmed up to him, and there were lots of cooing over the baby and general talks about life.
My friend (let’s call him Posh) was going to spend the night, and the guestroom was made up for him. In the middle of the night, I woke up to pee. There was no light, so I used the torch on my phone to make my way to the toilet. After easing myself, without thinking about it, I turned off the torch. My brain had become roused enough to register the path to the toilet and so, I didn’t think I needed the light to find my way back to my bedroom.
I had gotten to the bedroom door when I stopped short, a little startled to see a figure peering through the side of the curtain hanging over the door of the bedroom.
It was my wife.
The moment during which we stood there, staring at each other in the darkness lasted a few seconds. The moonlight spilling into the room through the window illuminated the expression on her face.
That moment was enough to communicate to me what had just happened.
She said nothing, but it was very evident what she had come out of bed to that doorway to do: to see if I had left our matrimonial bed to join Posh in the guestroom. It obviously didn’t help that I’d put off the torch on my phone; darkness always had the habit of aiding and abetting “sinful” things.
Then, those few seconds passed and she turned and went back to bed, leaving me to follow after her.
We never talked about that incident.
But it reminded me of something Pinky once said, about how being out caused his parents to redirect their speculative gazes from his female friends to his male friends. Suddenly, their censure – that strictness that Nigerian parents exhibit when they feel like they have to protect their children from sexual iniquity – was now focused on the boys that Pinky had around him whenever he was in his parents’ house instead of on the girls he had around him.
Female visitors come and go from our house, and at no time had I felt watched by my wife around them. Telling her about my bisexuality however must have made her believe that the greater threat to our marriage was men. And even if there was no way I could know if I’d put a burden on her by telling her the truth about my sexual orientation – that is, short of her telling me – I couldn’t help but feel guilt over the feeling that my wife could maybe never know complete peace of mind whenever she finds me around a certain kind of men.
She loves me and I love her very much. But does the truth really serve any liberating purpose if this is a burden we have to live with? Is ignorance perhaps not bliss in a situation such as this?
I will come back next episode with the second story that makes the question of telling your spouse-to-be the truth even trickier.
Written by Nuel