I've been reading your blog posts over the past several months, and I just wanted to send a note of thanks.
I am also in a long-term relationship in which we have been faithful to each other. At times, it felt like we were the only gay men we knew who wanted a monogamous relationship much less sustained one. I even remember being teased by some of our gay male friends about not sleeping with other men, as if we were somehow missing out on the "gay lifestyle." At worst, there were certainly times when I have felt like a minority within a minority. For me, being faithful to my partner brings a deep respect and dignity to our relationship that wouldn't be there if we weren't monogamous. It's the reason I wanted to be in a relationship.
I know that many gay couples choose not to be faithful to each other and are happy in those relationships. It works for them. I believe we all have the right to define the best relationship for ourselves and must honor that right for other couples. It may not be how I would choose to live, but it may be for others. I don't have objections to that. I do have to say, however, that I'm constantly disappointed by how often gay couples choose not to be monogamous.
Which brings me to how I found your blog. We are fortunate to live in a state that allows same sex marriage. After 27 years, we are planning our wedding for next year and are so excited to be finally wed. But as I'm sure you're aware, marriage equality is a fiercely debated topic currently in the US. With the presidential election coming next year, the candidates have once again tried to identify the common enemy, the gays, and are promising they will stand up for family values, traditional marriage, Christian values, etc. Inevitably, the amount of infidelity within gay relationships will be given as a reason once again to show how gay relationships are not the same as straight relationships. On one particular night, I had listened to more than I could stand and was feeling less excited about our upcoming wedding. I jokingly did a Google search for committed, gay relationships, not expecting many meaningful hits. Your blog was one of the search results.
So finally, the thank-you. Thank you for posting about your views and your relationship. It is very comforting to me to read a gay man's blog about the value of being in a monogamous relationship.
Here is my response to Mark.
What a thrill to hear from you, and thank you so much for your kind words. Occasionally, I hesitate publishing some of the posts I write (for example, those on gay men and monogamy), because I think I might be the only one who feels as I do. But then I decide, what the hell. You have just one chance to go around in life; my thoughts and opinions are just as valid as anyone's; and, if people don't like what I write, they don't have to read it. Besides, more often than not, I learn others think the same way I do (maybe not on all points, but on many) and appreciate someone finally speaking up for them.
If you've read extensively through my blog, you'll know I also don't get the whole thing about the "gay lifestyle." I just don't get it. I don't understand what some gay men see in sleeping around and having a lot of sexual experiences with different partners. What is the thrill in that? I know what I share with my partner--and I'm not even talking about sex here--is more worthwhile and meaningful than anything these men have hopping from one sexual encounter to another. I could not have said it more beautifully than you did: "For me, being faithful to my partner brings a deep respect and dignity to our relationship that I wouldn't achieve if we weren't monogamous." I feel the same way. I love knowing what Chris and I share is worthy of other people's respect.
I've never been like other gay men. From the time I finally accepted my homosexuality (in my early twenties), my goal was to be in a long-term, committed, and monogamous relationship. Not for a moment did I want to sleep around in the hope of satisfying my sexual appetite with dozens or hundreds of men. What's the point in that? How empty. How meaningless. An open relationship with Chris? Why? How disrespectful of him would that be? If you truly love someone, you're not out having sex with other people. Simple as that. And how disrespectful of myself, too. I strongly believe the root of promiscuity is a lack of self-respect and self-love. If you respect and love yourself, the last thing you do is give it all away to just anyone. But I know I don't think like a lot of gay men.
I also believe as you do, Mark, that each of us has the right to define the best relationship for himself and should honor that right for everyone else. Absolutely. But where this theory runs into trouble for me is when all gay couples are looked at the same way. Is when the mainstream community assumes all gay male couples have open relationships, cheat on their partners, and have little regard for commitment and monogamy. As much as it might be a stereotype, somewhere along the line, the mainstream community got the idea gay men are not monogamous, and, thus, my relationship with Chris isn't looked at with the same respect as relationships between straight folks are. This doesn't sit right with me because, as far as I'm concerned, there's no difference between them.
That's why, among other subjects, I write about monogamy in gay relationships. Because what often happens is those of us in monogamous relationships disappear into our communities, blend in, and few outside our closest neighbors know we're there. Meanwhile, the hyper-sexualized gay male world continues to get all the attention (pride parades and the like), while those of us in monogamous relationships don't have a voice or the opportunity to say, "Hey, wait a minute. We're here, too, and what we have deserves respect. Because gay men are not just about sex and open relationships. Many of our relationships are just as stable as straight ones, and they deserve to be recognized accordingly." End of story.
I'm so grateful my views on gay men, relationships, and monogamy gave you comfort at a time when you needed it. And I sincerely hope you move steadily toward the day of your wedding, knowing you are exactly where you want to be--and where, if honest with themselves, most gay men want to be, too. The fact is, many gay men think they crave sex, but what they really crave is love. What we have with our partners is love, and, as you already know, no amount of sex--no matter how good it is--could ever substitute for that.