The New York Times features an interesting piece on so-called "Brokeback Marriages"--women married to men who have had sex with other men. According to the story, there are an estimated 1.7 million to 3.4 million American women who once were or are now married to men who have had sex with other men in the last five years--that's about 4% of men who are or have been married. Online support groups are flooded with inquiries from married women in their 20s and 30s married to men who have had sex with other men, suggesting it is not an "artifact" of the past. The Times writes:
Such marriages are not just artifacts of the closeted 1950's. In the 16th century, Queen Anne of Denmark had eight children with King James I of England, known not only for the King James Bible, but also for his devotion to male favorites, one of whom he called "my sweet child and wife."
Other women include Constance Wilde, Phyllis Gates, Linda Porter, Renata Blauel and Dina Matos McGreevey, wed respectively to Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, Elton John and James E. McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey . . .
On the whole these are not marriages of convenience or cynical efforts to create cover. Gay and bisexual men continue to marry for complex reasons, many impelled not only by discrimination, but also by wishful thinking, the layered ambiguities of sexual love and authentic affection.
One wife's account in the article seems to be a common reaction. "I had no suspicions whatsoever. He's very masculine looking. It's not like he had Barbra Streisand or show tunes on." At least one expert doesn't think a woman marries a gay man by accident. "Straight people rarely marry gay people accidentally. Some women . . . find gay men less judgmental and more flexible, while others unconsciously seek partnerships that are not sexually passionate."