Name: Thomas (Not his real name)
Age: 50+ years old
Religion: Roman Catholic
Orientation: More gay than straight. Can be happy having sex with wife but needs to have man with man sex. Will not feel lost without women.
Status: Married for over 20 years
Children: 2 – in their 20s
FACE-TO-FACE INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS: MONDAY, 23 JUNE 2014
Growing Up in the 60s and 70s
It was a time when being gay was not something out in the open.
Thomas confesses that he didn’t know very much about what was going on except the presence of some advertisements and personals in the newspapers of men looking to meet other men with ‘similar interests’. Being gay was equated with being an Ah Gua(阿官)1. In the army, soldiers and NS men were punished for homosexuality. It was the way of society at that time that young men would naturally get married, no questions allowed. And people who were brave enough to rebel faced a lot of social pressure to get settled down. It was a very lonely time.
Thomas also remembers that New Nation2 had a big spread about VD (Venereal Disease – loosely used to refer to Sexually Transmitted Infections – STIs) when he was a teenager and there was a section about how you could catch it. He was frightened enough to go to a family doctor to have a blood test as he had been having oral sex with two different people older than him.
Gay Sexual Awakening
His first sexual experience was when he was 9 years old with neighbor Gor Gor(哥哥)3 and found it enjoyable.
At 14, Thomas realized that something was different. He was becoming aware of the church’s stand on homosexuality as he listened to sermons that condemned it. Being religious then, an only son and talks with his father and his father’s reaction to “Ah Gua”, he felt real pressure to be straight. When a relative was found out to be gay, his mum declared that she will kill herself if he was gay.
At 18, he enlisted and was in a unit where he was in the constant company of lots of men both straight and gay. This had an impact on him – that being “straight” was the right course because the only outwardly “gay” members were “Ah Gua” in their mannerism and speech and he could not accept being “one of the sisters”.
Thomas remembers no real struggle before marriage. In fact, he remembers being so eager to get married as proof he was straight. “All will be ok after you get married; it’s a passing phase”. He was told this, time and time again, in confessions and conversations with priests at church but now in retrospect, he regrets the decision. However, he adds that he is appreciative of his ‘good life’ now – the joys of seeing his children grow up and having a wife who is a friend with whom he can share a lot of things and someone he does love.
After marriage, he continued to have sexual feelings for men and within 3 years was seeing the man he had relations with when he was a teen. In the 1990s, he discovered the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and indulged in ONS (one night stands) but restricted them to petting and occasional blow jobs. By 2000, he was going all the way. He justified it as a compromise – no strings attached – but it did affect his sex life with his wife as there were long periods of no sex with her, mainly to avert passing to her something from the liaisons. Sex resumed after blood tests but it did not last. And the whole cycle would repeat itself again.
Thomas confessed to falling in love with a guy in early 2000 and the guilt feelings were so strong that he suffered a nervous breakdown. He could not cope with the pressures of church, family, work and “betraying” the wife who loved him and yet having such feelings for the guy. Fortunately, he sought counselling at a local counselling and care center and the 4 years of counseling basically helped him to accept the way things are and to realize that he was gay.
The 3rd Party
After 20 years of marriage, he is now in a stable relationship with a 41 year old guy called Joseph (not his real name). He met him on the IRC and it all started as phone sex in 2008. Then they met and was only cuddling and mutual masturbating.
It’s been 6 years now.
Joseph knows that Thomas is married but this situation suits him fine because he himself needs to spend time with his mum and cannot really commit too much time and attachment to the relationship. On Thomas’s part, he wants a steady boyfriend because he is afraid of bringing some sexual infections back home should he have sex with random men. He feels safer with a steady committed boyfriend.
They make it a point to meet once a week to watch movies, go window shopping and of course have sex which happens about once a fortnight in a hotel.
Thomas and Joseph value honesty in their relationship. They have an agreement that if Joseph should meet someone else in future he must be honest about it and tell Thomas. Thomas, himself recalls how he was open with Joseph when he met an old flame and they had sex.
They go to Action For AIDS’ anonymous testing at Kelantan Lane together every 4 to 6 months. They go together as a way to show each other that they have nothing to hide.
Thomas confesses that he is frightened about the repercussions of having a third party to his marriage. But it is either this or his sanity. He and his wife have gone for marriage counseling after he let slip that he had sex with a guy. He did tell her about his history before they married and assured her that once married, it would be “all in the past”. Although it severely hurt and disappointed her, that liaison did not come as a surprise to her. His gut feeling is that she knows he may be in a relationship although it might be a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation right now. His wife had actually told the counsellor, “he is wired this way, what can I do?” Perhaps she sees this situation as a sort of compromise. But she has said that she will ask for a divorce if she finds out about a third party.
“Don’t think too much about the future.” That’s how Thomas feels when asked about how he thinks all this is going to end up. “Guess, we will become good friends…more than just lovers,” Thomas adds referring to Joseph.
He has promised his wife that he will grow old with her; Joseph understands this.
Thomas pensively answers when he is asked whether he has any advice to others who may be facing the same problems. “If you know that you are gay, think hard first – if you need a man in your life, then don’t get married. Not true that you when get married, all will be okay.
He hopes that the ‘rainbow’
which is the symbol of the gay community
would likewise also be a symbol of the embracing of diversity
and the acceptance of the married gay man.
He knows that many people, even those from the gay community will be judgmental. He knows there is nothing he can do about what others feel but hopes for some understanding. He hopes that the ‘rainbow’ which is the symbol of the gay community would likewise also be a symbol of the embracing of diversity and the acceptance of the married gay man.
1 Ah Gua – 阿官Dialect derogatory term to refer more accurately to transgenders or effeminate men but used widely and loosely to refer to all gay men nowadays
2 New Nation – a Singaporean evening tabloid now defunct
3 Gor Gor – 哥哥 Dialect address for an elder brother both biological and non-biological
Call Oogachaga Hotline (6226-2002 – Tuesdays to Thursdays 6 to 10 pm and Saturdays 2 to 5 pm) if you need someone to talk to about your issues.