A Reason To Live

My wife is home in California with my two beautiful twin children. My family is healthy and my children are two happy four-and-a-half year-olds. We live in base housing and also own a home in North Carolina with a tenant who pays the rent on time and takes good care of our house. Our only debt is good debt: a mortgage, student loans, and one car payment. At work, I command a Marine rifle company. My company has 187 infantry Marines who are well trained, well prepared, and ready to fight for their country and their Corps.  I’m forward deployed, I’m PME complete, and I am almost halfway to retirement.

I regularly think of committing suicide.

I realized I was gay in high school, though upon closer reflection the writing was on the wall long before that. I dabbled when I was in junior high, and was in my first long-term relationship with a guy by my senior year. Ironically, I was also in my first long-term relationship with a girl at the same time. To say I was in denial was an understatement. It did not help that my mother, an evangelical convert late in life, realized my sexual leanings and ordered me to counseling with her minister. They both managed to convince me (a struggling recent convert at the time) that my relationship with boys was unnatural, ungodly, and would ensure I had a reservation in Hell when I died. Naturally, I believed them.

At college, I did what my family expected me to do. I went to a big, conservative school in Texas with a large ROTC program, I suppressed my sexuality publically (though quietly seeking the occasional interlude on the “DL”) and I went about my life. My long-term girlfriend broke up with me during my sophomore year after my long-term ex-boyfriend called her and told her about us. I didn’t date anyone after that for about three years.

Fast-forward to college graduation and commissioning. I started dating a girl in the fall of my college victory lap (5th year) and then proposed to her shortly before starting Marine Basic Officer Course in Quantico, VA. The suggestion to propose came from my best friend (who didn’t know I was gay) and I was too scared and too deep in the closet to tell him. I bought a ring, she said yes, and we were married five months later. At this point, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was gay, but there was also no chance that I would ever consider coming out to anyone, so I assumed I could simply change my feelings over time, and that I would eventually become straight, or at least bisexual.

It didn’t take me long to realize how hard it was going to be to keep up the illusion of sexual attraction. I have never been attracted to women. I can become aroused while making out with a woman and I can have intercourse, but my mind is always on previous sexual encounters with men. Always. In the seven years of my marriage, I don’t think that my wife and I had sex more than 100 times. I know this frustrated my wife, but I was too afraid and ashamed to tell her the truth, and so the lie became a life, and life became more complicated.

After my first deployment, we decided to try and get pregnant. I realize that I should have told my wife before this point about my sexuality, but again, I was too ashamed and I wanted to have a child before my next deployment. As an only child, I alone bore the family name and I did not want that name extinguished if something happened to me on my next combat tour. I had long concluded that my life would be one of silence and suppression of my feelings – the safest and most considerate thing to do. We were immediately successful and my wife became pregnant with our twins. I deployed a few weeks later.

Following the second deployment, I returned home to my new family. When I left, I had a wife and a dog. When I returned, I had a full house. Becoming a father was the best experience of my life. I’m not a great dad, but I worship my kids and they love me, so that is all that matters.

But being a father, especially as my kids grew older and smarter, made me realize the importance of honesty with my children. What would I do if my son or my daughter killed themselves as a pre-teen or as a teenager because they thought their parents wouldn’t understand? What would they think if they were to discover my sexuality when they were teenagers or adults? Would they hate me for lying to them and their mom? Would they resent me because I was not honest with them?

And about my wife—how much longer could I make her unwittingly suffer without the knowledge of my true feelings and desires? How much longer would I let her think that my lack of desire for her was her fault or that she was somehow unattractive? I knew that the longer I waited, the more painful the truth would be.

When I was at PME school, two significant issues began to creep into my conscious. First, I realized that my true political beliefs no longer matched those I professed. Despite being raised in conservative south Texas, attending a very conservative university, and serving as an officer in the most conservative of our Nation’s armed services, I was actually quite liberal. While most people have this revelation in college, I waited until I was almost thirty before allowing myself to admit it. The significance of this admission is closely tied to the other issue—my religion and faith.

These two revelations, each life changing for me in their own way, were perhaps the most significant contributing factors to my ultimate decision to come out to my wife. Once I was able to accept myself spiritually and politically, it freed my mind and my heart to accept (for the first time) myself sexually. Armed with the power of that knowledge, I decided that I would tell my wife the truth, and I would do so before the year’s end.

A few months ago, just before deployment, I came out to my wife. I had been sexually active with a male friend for about three months, and while that relationship was nothing sustainable, I couldn’t bear to keep it from my wife any longer. I feared that if she discovered my infidelity on her own, she would never be able to forgive me, and I knew that her eventual forgiveness was critical to my long-term emotional stability. Equally important to me was finding an end to the secret meetings and late-night hookups. I knew that my desire for men went far beyond sex; it was the relationship I wanted, and that demanded a total lifestyle change.

It was a Wednesday in October when I made the decision. I called her from work and asked her if she could have a friend watch the kids one night later in the week—we needed to talk. She immediately suspected something was wrong. By the time I came home, she was very distraught. She kept asking me questions, trying to pry the subject of the conversation out. I wouldn’t tell her, and that made it worse. I had hoped for a Friday night talk, where we could have the weekend to work through the intense emotions I knew would follow, but she couldn’t wait. I eventually quit stalling. We sent the kids to the neighbor’s house, sat down on the couch, and I spilled my guts. At first, she just sat there, shaking violently, having trouble catching her breath. She kept saying ‘okay, okay, okay, okay,’ as if she could somehow talk herself into accepting the complete destruction of the world she knew by wishing everything to be okay. But it wasn’t okay. We talked and cried for four hours that first night. She desperately needed someone to talk to, and so she asked if she could call her mother. I told her that was fine, and she made me promise to stay in the room. In spite of her anger and disbelief, she wanted me to hear every word she said, because she wanted me to know that she wasn’t going run to her family with the kids. She was in the lowest point of her entire life, but she wanted to be sure that I knew something—this was still OUR family, and we had to handle this as a team.

It was hard that night; it still is. But it was the right thing to do. While she is still hurt and angry, she does not hate me because I am gay. She is angry because I lied to her. We’ve agreed to stay together for a time until we work out what is best for the kids. We’ve decided to get divorced, but not to rush into it. She’s even let me start seeing a guy I really like; a fellow service member who I can see myself committed to for a long time. So there is hope for progress.

So why do I think about suicide? Because I’m 32 years old, and the world I built for myself is crumbling around me. Despite the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I’m terrified of my Marines finding out that I am gay. I’m terrified of telling my parents. I’m terrified that my wife and I will fight about our kids and she will take them somewhere that I won’t be able to get stationed. Life is so much better for our generation than it has been for previous ones. I’m grateful everyday for those who paved the way for our society to recognize LGBT people as equals. But I struggle everyday with the reality of living on the threshold of this new world.  My kids, my Marines, and the hope for a future with someone I can love openly are the only reasons I’m still alive today.


  1. Caleb
    January 28, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    We are living in a rapidly changing world today. Many of the old taboos that once existed in our society have become so extinct that for many it seems impossible that they actually existed at all. And this should be a comforting fact to you because of your children.

    The road will be tough emotionally and mentally because, like everyone else, you do not see the future, yet you’re constantly facing it. And though the future may seem bleak at times, especially when the going gets tough, it is always easier to find your way through darkness when you have your head held high and looking straight ahead.

    And think for a second how much society will have changed by the time your kids are cognizant of the effects of reality and decisions. Do no doubt it, not for one second. Your kids will be raised in the brightest and most accepting generation that our world has ever seen. They will not see you as gay, or as the man who left their mom, no. They will see their father, their dad, and a strong one at that. It takes courage to do what you did, considering your situation, but you did it and you didn’t back away.

    But to be the father and the man that the future holds, you have to not give up. You have to keep your head held high. You have to be there when the times calls, and even when it doesn’t. Through your struggles of self acceptance and the choices you have made, you have been given a golden opportunity to shine through the shadows that you’re facing. You have the ability to come out on top, above and beyond, and to show that what you did was not a mistake. Because in life there are no mistakes, there are only choices and what you do when you’re given those choices.

    If you could only see what I see, then you would “see.” Though, probably not now, or tomorrow, next week, or even next year, but in time you will see. And when you do see, it will be a beautiful sight. You will be standing on the summit on the biggest mountain you may ever climb, and from your vantage you will be able to see the clouds that once obscured your path. You will see the people you met throughout your climb to the top, including your children, and they will be there with you when you reach the top. The air will be clean, and the burdens relieved. You may have a few scars left from your journey, but they will not compare to the prize that awaits at the summit.

    So please, do not give up. We’re all down at the bottom of the mountain watching, hoping, and rooting for you. And though our shouts and calls may be faint at times, know that they carry with them all the love and support that we can muster. Remember that the best paths in life are always the most difficult. But also remember that the most difficult tasks reap the greatest rewards.

    You have all of my love and all of my support. I will think about you tonight, and tomorrow. I will think about you next week and next month. I will always be thinking, and I will always be hoping.


  2. L
    January 28, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am 29 and my dad was a closeted gay man (I think–I’ll explain that later), but never had the courage to be honest about it. He was married to my mom for 12 years and had two kids with her (me and my sister). From what my mom has been able to piece together, my dad likely had multiple affairs with men throughout their marriage, contracting HIV sometime after my younger sister was born and dying of AIDS complications when I was 10. While my dad was alive, he lied to my mom about the affairs, he lied about having AIDS (he told my sister and I that he was dying, but of cancer), he lied about how he contracted it once I found out (at age 9, by stumbling across some papers in his room) and he never did come out prior to his death (which is why I say that I think he was gay–I’ll never truly know for sure).
    I adored my dad as a child, and losing him devastated me, but finding out the truth surrounding his life and death years later compounded the pain of losing him even further. I’ll never be able to learn the full truth about my dad. I’ll never be able to tell him how much the lies hurt me, but that I forgive him. I’ll never have the opportunity to understand what led him to make the choices he made. And in some ways, I’ll never have the opportunity to fully heal as a result. Of all the ways my dad’s choices impacted my life, that’s the hardest one to accept.
    I wish my dad had been honest. He couldn’t have changed that he was dying. He couldn’t have changed his past choices, but he could have told the truth, and that would have been a lot. So thank you for telling the truth.

  3. Samantha
    January 27, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    My name is Samantha and I am 21 years old. My parents divorced when I was 7. I didn’t know the real reason why until I was about 11 or 12. Please, listen to my experience.

    My mother told me that my dad was gay before he had a chance to come out to me. I was devastated because he was so scared to tell me. I cried a lot that night, and I will never forget it. I lived in secrecy about it from my father for almost a year. When I told him I knew, he was shocked.

    He still reminds me of what I said to him that day. “Well, you’re still my dad, right?”

    I love my father so much. He told me about how scared he was to tell us because of stories he heard from other gay fathers whose children rejected them. He told me he had a really hard time coming out completely. He also grew up in a religious and strict household. Some of his brothers and sisters don’t speak to us anymore because of this, but as we see it, we don’t need people that won’t be accepting.

    He went through a lot of therapy after the divorce. It helped him immensely and I would suggest it to you, too. You have so much to live for. My father has been with his partner for over ten years now, and I love him like a father, too. Your children love you and they will accept you. Please, please, don’t commit suicide.

  4. Adam
    January 27, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I know that many soldiers think less of GLBT individuals, and it is idiotic. One day it’ll all go away, thankfully. It is starting. Slowly but surely, it is getting there. It does get better, sir. Gig ‘em!

  5. GamerLEN
    January 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    I have to admit, I cried when I read this. I’m twenty six and an out-and-proud gay man… and this made me realize that I take the current acceptance of homosexuality for granted sometimes.

  6. BQCO99
    November 2, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    As a Former United States Airborne Ranger Army Officer….and knowing you in college….You are a real man for doing what you did. It takes intestinal fortitiude and deep love for your family to not hide it any longer. I wish you the best and remember that we all love you for being who you are….regardless of what these other people who want to judge you believe, think or say. We make choices in life and in my opinion…you do what is right in your heart….and you have definately made enough sacrifices to deserve the utmost respect from everyone.


  7. N
    October 30, 2011 at 4:45 AM

    Matt et al.,

    I was scared. I was scared of going to hell. I was scared of not making my father proud. I was scared of losing my friends. And I honestly thought I could be cured of being gay.

    Was I right in marrying my wife? No. I was a coward. Was I right in deciding to have kids, knowing that I could possibly end my marriage someday because I was living a lie? No. It was selfish because I’m an only child and I was deploying to Fallujah in 2006…and I thought I would come back in a box.

    Did I uphold honor, courage, and commitment when I asked my wife to marry me, because I was too ashamed to tell my best friend (who introduced us) that I was gay? No…I did not uphold those values.

    Matt-you’re right. I failed.

    But at least I’m trying to make things right now. I don’t want my kids to discover that daddy lied to them their whole lives when they are teenagers. And I want my wife to find someone else who can love her in ways I cannot…while she is young and willing to look.

    Am I selfish? Sure…that’s the nature of coming out. But don’t you dare accuse me of not caring how she feels. Don’t you dare accuse me of only caring for myself here. I wake up everyday with the guilt and regret of a man who betrayed someone he loves. I don’t think being gay justified my cheating….I’m embarrassed that I cheated. And that’s something I must live with daily.

    But at least when I wake up in the morning, I know that my wife…who is my very best friend…knows me for who I am. And someday, when it is age-appropriate, my kids will know me for who I am.

    And while I have lied most of my life, I’m living with integrity now. And that’s enough to keep me waking up each day.

    • Jay
      January 29, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      It’s amazing sometimes how someone fiercely challenging your beliefs and resolve is what it takes to truly crystallize your motivations? Hopefully you can look back at this answer when you’re in your darkest moments and use it to find the courage to climb back up.

      You made terrible choices. But at 32, you still have a lifetime of great choices left to make. And when you have personal integrity, when you’re able to feel like a whole person, your capacity to provide love and stability for others (primarily your wife and children, of course) is many times magnified.

      Your wife sounds like a incredibly strong woman, who will forgive you – not for you, but for herself. So she can move on and find someone who can love her to the fullest. I believe that as she does that, the two of you may be able to forge a supportive new relationship out of the current raw, painful honesty about life that only a small percentage of marriages ever achieve.

      Your life only has the potential to get infinitely better from here. Suicide is incredibly selfish. Leave the selfish decisions in the past and embrace the honest, loving person you want to become.

  8. October 14, 2011 at 4:58 PM


    Regardless of your points, once someone realizes they are gay and are doing themselves and their families a disservice by attempting to “play along” and make something work, they are faced with a choice: stay married because they promised to do so, or honor their partner by freeing them to seek a truly fulfilling relationship. I’m certain that you’d agree that a straight spouse in that situation – and in N’s case, his wife – would not WANT to remain married in a situation like that … so I’m struggling to understand how you can be so against N taking a very courageous step and leaving the comfort of his established life – when it’s obviously a step that needs to be taken. What would you recommend – living a lie just to honor a vow? Why is one right, and the other is not? It is ultimately about someone having the courage to step up and live by their convictions regarding what is right and what is wrong. Not your conviction of what’s right and wrong, and not their families’.

    • Matt
      October 22, 2011 at 10:41 AM


      Firstly, I noticed that you edited your previous post regarding the method in which N left his wife for someone else.

      Secondly, regarding your statement about disservice; N made it perfectly clear that he “realized” he was gay before he was ever married – it is CLEAR that he did himself and his future wife a disservice long before taking the plunge. I don’t even know why we’re debating this.

      J, I am confused as to how breaking a marriage vow is honorable. You still have yet to explain this…

      I am against N taking this “courageous” step because it was everything but courageously taken.

      This is the fact that you wanted to ignore before you re-edited your post: N said – “I had been sexually active with a male friend for about three months, and while that relationship was nothing sustainable, I couldn’t bear to keep it from my wife any longer. I feared that if she discovered my infidelity on her own, she would never be able to forgive me, and I knew that her eventual forgiveness was critical to my long-term emotional stability.”

      I notice a trend in the words that N speaks here. It is very much about how HE feels and how HE wants to protect HIS “emotional stability”. He doesn’t really care about how it will make his wife feel – all he cares about is how she may never forgive him for having an affair with her. But then again, this seems to be the attitude fostered by yourself and others in the community.

      Well, J, N WAS living a lie to honor a vow. I never said that living a lie to honor a vow was right. What I have actually been saying all along is that N should never have married that woman in the first place because he was already aware that he was gay before he married her, he didn’t become aware after he married her. This has been my argument the entire time, it hasn’t changed.

      Apparently this isn’t about courage and living by conviction, otherwise N would never had married the woman and started a family under false pretenses. He should have made the necessary step to be honest before purchasing a ring and proposing to a woman that he never wanted to be with in the first place. The convictions of his family don’t matter? That’s a pretty selfish mentality to hold, don’t you think?

      I wonder if the words Honor, Integrity and Courage mean anything anymore. If you can use those words to praise a situation where a family is torn apart due to dishonor, unfaithfulness and selfishness – then I fear that those words no longer hold meaning, but rather serve those who pursue only themselves and a life that honors only themselves.

      Honor, integrity and courage aren’t inherent just because you’re in the military.

      • October 22, 2011 at 5:45 PM

        And again, you’re ignoring the statement that I keep making about 2 wrongs do not make a right. Whether he should or shouldn’t have gotten married is not the argument here – the argument is, knowing what he knows now, what is he to do? Obviously, what is best for him and his family is for him and his family to decide – the fact that the took such a stance publicly and decided to finally be truly honest with himself and with his family, is honorable. It’s apparent that you do not understand what it means to “lie to oneself” – but this is exactly what N did at the very beginning. Yes, in my opinion, he shouldn’t have gotten married – but that mistake has been done. Now, faced with the current information, should he make ANOTHER mistake by staying married and living a lie, or should he try to make things right by being honest with his family? This article is about him righting a wrong – a wrong that he did to himself AND to his family.

        Ultimately, we cannot live for others – to do so only sets us up for a lifetime of disappointment, emotional pain, and ultimate dissatisfaction. We cannot adequately SERVE others if we are not whole ourselves. It’s deeply tragic that people that have a similar mindset as yourself continue to enable the environment and culture that places pressure on people like N to be enslaved to what other’s perceptions of him are.

        It’s apparent I cannot change your mind, but consider how hateful your words are to someone who has had to struggle with this for their entire life – and then finally comes to the point where they can be truly honest with themselves and their families. Your perception of what constitutes “honor” and “courage” are way off from the military’s definition – as evidenced by Adm Mullen’s remarks to the Senate last year.

        • Matt
          January 6, 2012 at 12:51 PM

          First off, J – I would like to know how my words have ever been “hateful”. Just because I hold a different stance than you, and refuse to agree with your point of view, does not make me hateful. I can’t control someone else’s perceptions about the things I say. If they choose to irrationally believe that my words are hateful, that is their choice, not mine. Unfortunately in this day and age, if you take an opposing stance to that of the societal norm, you run the risk of being called hateful. I don’t much like strawmen. Let’s leave the irrational statements out of this.

          If the argument had been about him “knowing what he knows” and the direction he was going to take, I would imagine that the attitude displayed in these forums would have been something along the lines of “Hey N, it’s good that you stopped lying to yourself and everyone around you , it’ll be a hard road from here on, but keep working on it” – But that’s not the case.

          Everyone here praised the coming out of N to his wife and ignored the tragic method which led there in the first place. If anything, I would say this whole debate has been more about everyone’s blatant disregard for all of the negative aspects of this story vs. their adoration of the “positive” aspects which only serve to further their own agendas. This debate has been targeted more at those commending the situation, rather than the one who was involved in the situation.

          This would be the first time that you have stated that what is best for N and his family, is for N and his family to decide. Every other post of yours insinuated that N’s own interest mattered more than anyone elses.

          I am not going to stand here and point fingers yelling “Sinner!”, because I realize that we are all flawed, we all make poor choices at times.

          We can’t live for others? Well I guess that sums up your worldview and I can understand why it is so easy for you to support behavior such as this. I am not surprised by your humanist point of view.

          I think that it is deeply tragic that people such as yourself breed a mindset in our culture which tells people that it’s okay to dishonor yourself and those around you as long as you feel better about yourself in the end.

          I am shocked at the support that has been given by his peers regarding his poor decision making process – that is what my argument has been the entire time and that is what the argument is.

        • Matt
          January 6, 2012 at 12:54 PM

          And once again, J – I am in support of the repeal of DADT. The Adm. Mullen reference was unecessary, because we were not talking about DADT.

      • Rin33
        January 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Wow Matt, way to show how empathetic you are. The fact is that, in order to understand what N did, you must first understand what it means to be a closeted gay person and then you have to look at the situation that person is in with regard to family, friends, career etc… This story is tragic and there can be no doubt that everyone involved is suffering, but it doesn’t have to end that way, and I’m sure it won’t. I think the moral of this story lies solely with perception and I think you, Matt, have the wrong one. When someone is telling us about a very difficult situation they have expierienced we need to employ empathy in order to understand the story, to understand where the person is coming from. I have learned that sometimes, in order to be there for those you love, you must be selfish, because if you aren’t together emotionally then you can’t be available for those you love. I would ask if N really was being selfish and I don’t think he was. N can’t change his sexual identity; in a perfect world N would have never felt he needed to be anything but who and what he truely is, but alas, this is not a perfect world. N is a victim here as well, a victim of societies homophobia which N then internalized and attacked himself with, he was doing what he felt he was supposed to do and the pain and self hatred that he felt must have been horrendous. Who are you to judge this man? Did N do something wrong by marrying his wife when he knew he could never really give her what she needed? Yes, he most certainly did. Now, N comes across in his writing as a very thoughtful, reasonable human being, so can you imagine, Matt, what he must have thought about his homosexuality, ( this is where that empathy thing comes in Matt) the fear he must have had, to cause him to do something like marry someone he wasn’t attracted to, someone he could never love the way he was meant to? This goes both ways, not only did he do a disservice to his wife, but also to himself. Every day in this country there are leaders from government, religious and other entities that feel it nessecary to proclaim that gay people are perverted, mentally ill, hell-bound sinners, they say being gay is a choice, a bad choice that needs to be changed. They also claim that if we just love god enough, or try really REALLY hard, we can change. Well guess what? It’s all LIES! Gay people can’t change any more than a straight person can. N even says he thought he could change. There are people that hold blame in this situation, N jut isn’t one of them. Michelle Bachmann actually tried to say that gay people do have equal rights because they too can marry the opposite sex! The anti-gay rethoric thrown around so loosely by the Right is absurd, demoralizing and dangerous. I for one applaud N for finally finding the strength to be himself and stand up for himself, especially because now he can be there and stand up for those he loves. The saddest thing about stories like this is the fact that they are so unnessecary, none of this should have happened. N should have been brought up with the understanding that whomever he is attracted to is ok and to be true to himself. That notion should have been reinforced not only by his parents but also his friends, school and every part of his life. When that is the case then these types of stories will cease to exist. N didn’t do this to his wife because he’s a bad person, or he wanted to hurt her, he did it out of fear and selfloathing, he did it because society told him that was what he MUST do, that any other way was deviant and against nature. I would just ask you Matt, to not be so quick to condemn this man, he and everyone involved in this story have suffered enough. The fact that he has finally accepted himself is a good thing and most of these types of stories have a happy ending where the person and their spouse end up being very close. N’s wife will realize that this isn’t N’s fault, there is no boogie man (other than the homophobes) in this story. She will realize that N did the best thing he could have done for her by being honest and maybe the fact that N was able to share his story will help some other poor kid that feels like he or she is supposed to try and live a lie and maybe they won’t. I don’t know your orientation Matt, and it doesn’t really matter, I really feel like you’ve misjudged this story and it’s obvious you were unable to put yourself in N’s shoes before you decided to tear him apart. Oh, and as far as the infidelity, I think we can chalk that up to a human being trying to feel intimacy with another human being in the way they were meant to feel it. As for me, I just want to thank N for having the courage to tell his story so honestly and I want to wish him and his wife and children all the happiness they so richly deserve. Good luck to you N, and Bravo! I would be so lucky as to have a partner like you, we would all be so lucky. The world is a better place with you in it, so please do us all a favor and hang in there.

  9. Matt
    September 29, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    First off, I am in support of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces being able to serve openly. That is for those who will, inevitably, label me “homophobic” for having an alternate point of view on this story.

    Everyone seems to be ignoring the real tragedy here – This man completely disregarded his marriage contract, feelings and well being of his wife and children when he DECIDED to have an affair.

    If what he says is true about knowing that he was gay before he met her, then he had NO business marrying that woman. He had no business making any type of vow to her, knowing full well he was lying to her and himself.

    It’s not his college buddy’s fault for making a suggestion, it’s his own fault for not being up front and truthful with his soon-to-be-wife. So because he felt “ashamed” that gave him the right to rob this poor woman of multiple years that she could have shared with someone who would have actually wanted to spend their life with her?

    There is nothing to commend here! It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight; you have no right to break a marriage covenant that you promised to uphold. I can’t help but think that had this man decided to leave his wife for another woman, he would be labeled many things, and none of those would be kind things. But since he left his wife for another man it’s okay because he is “freeing his mind” or “staying true to himself”. I’ve heard of men using similar excuses to leave their wives for other women, but in those cases the men were called dogs.

    Why is this behavior acceptable all of the sudden? It should never be acceptable, gay or straight, this behavior is unacceptable.

    I pity his wife, I pity his children.

    I thank you, Sir for your service in defending my freedoms here at home- Including my freedom to openly state my opposition to the devastation that has been wreaked upon marriages and families under the disguise of “progress”.

    • Kate
      October 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      Matt I can understand your opposition to his breaking his marriage covenant, but what you should understand is the social/societal/whatever you want to call it pressure that is put on men in N’s situation. For generations gay men have been forced to live a lie because that’s what society told them was right, that even if you’re gay you should live an unhappy life married to a woman (who’s probably going to be quite unhappy herself) and have children. If they didn’t do this they would be ostracized and shunned from “normal” society.

      Yes, N made the decision in the first place, but he was living a lie. In all four services integrity is the most important of all core values. So, N is also making the decision to live up to his core values that are so important to all of us in the US military. He might have taken away a few years of his wife’s life that were spent with him, but he gave her back the rest of her life so that they both could be happier.

      In my opinion, N has made the brave and correct choice. He’s not shying away from the consequences he knew would come, and is trying to right the wrongs that were made long ago.

      N I would be proud to serve under your command, and i think you would make a damn fine EOD officer.

      • Matt
        October 6, 2011 at 5:13 PM


        Whatever the pressure, if any at all, is not reason enough for N to have ever had to marry in the first place. The military didn’t make him marry a woman, his college friend didn’t make him marry a woman. It’s ridiculous to say that society pointed some kind of imaginary gun to his head and said “live an unhappy life, married to a woman” or else! I am sorry, but I just don’t buy that – People need to start taking responsibility for their actions. There are plenty of other stories on this site about gay service members remaining gay throughout their entire careers, never marrying a woman. Not expressing your sexual orientation or preferences, is hardly “living a lie”; It’s choosing not to disclose information about your personal life that other people really shouldn’t care about in the first place (because it’s PERSONAL)

        I come from a military background, my father served for 22 years and my brother currently serves. I understand that integrity is a cornerstone to the armed forces. I encourage you to look up the dictionary definition of the word “integrity” and tell me how that word defines a situation where a man, in order to be “honest” to his wife and himself about who he is, has an affair with someone outside of his marriage contract. You can blab all day about the way society “forces” people to live a lie, but you’re really just alleviating responsibility.

        He may have taken a few years of her life away? He DID. I don’t think that is up for debate here. You’re really downplaying the effect of this man’s actions on his family. It doesn’t seem like anyone even cares about his family. She may move on, but what about their children who may end up spending a life-time without their father? Well, I guess if he’s happier that’s all that matters, right?

        I would call his choice neither brave or correct. I would call his choice selfish and self centered from beginning to end.

        Again, this is not an attack on gay or lesbian service members. We can see quite clearly from this site that there are plenty of people serving in the military that have remained consistent with their lifestyle and beliefs.

        I believe in treating everyone with the same standards. I believe that we are all created equally – Everyone exists on the same plain of reality. I would say the same things about a man leaving his wife for another woman and vice versa. Someone’s sexual orientation does not make them exempt to the standard of morality that everyone else has to follow.

        • October 10, 2011 at 4:04 PM


          The old saying “two wrongs do not make a right,” applies in this situation. Nobody is saying N should not have gotten married in the first place. Whether or not he lied to himself and to his future wife, his friends, his family, is for N to say … but i can tell you, as someone who has been through the exact same situation, I did lie to my future wife. And I lied to myself. I did what I thought God wanted me to do as a “good fundamental independant Baptist Christian” – and that was, to try REALLY hard to stuff these feelings and just make a “normal” relationship work. So I tried hard at that. I did – and DO – love my ex-wife, but not in a physical sense … after 3 years of marriage, it became obvious to all of us that it was not going to work any longer.

          Yes, we could have stayed married because we made a “promise” to do so – but that would have just been another “wrong” to throw on a pile of wrongs that were quickly growing larger by the day. Being married to someone is a committment – to put them first. To love and cherish them. Once you both come to realize that only by setting each other free can you show that you care about the other person, is this vow TRULY honored.

          Once N realized he is who he is – and once any person in a hetero relationship comes to the realization they are gay – they are faced with one of life’s most diffucult decisions: honor a specific vow, or honor the marriage partner they made a vow to. And yes, there is an absolute difference between the two. N chose the latter. He also chose to move forward in his life with integrity by standing up for what he believes and who he is. Regardless of his past decisions, he is doing what is right NOW – for his wife, his family, and most importantly, for himself.

          His family will be okay. Mine is – I still speak with them all the time. It was difficult at the beginning for all of us, but now it is much easier … I was able to allow my ex-wife to move on and find a love that could truly fulfill her, while being able to live with integrity and find the same fulfilling love myself.

          This is a story that deserves celebration! THIS is what honoring a vow and living with integrity truly is!

          • Matt
            October 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM


            Are you telling me that N had no recourse other than to cheat on his wife in order to tell her who he was?

            Again, this is an issue that people on here are failing to grasp.

            What is to stop anyone from “realizing who they are”, and just leaving their spouse for another person, gay or straight? Your logic is encouraging behavior which heterosexuals could just as easily use to leave their spouses for another heterosexual relationship.

            I am confused as to how it shows integrity to break one vow to “honor” your spouse. Sorry if I don’t grasp your logic here. I was always taught that being unfaithful and dishonest to your spouse was a bad thing, not good. I think that the universal laws of morality agrees with me there.

            What you said about him doing what was right now, seems to sum up that attitude I was referring to earlier. You said “He is doing right NOW – for his wife, his family, and most importantly, for himself.” Apparently the “MOST IMPORTANT” person is him, not his family. That’s certainly “honorable” to put yourself before your family. That’s what the military teaches you too, correct? Put yourself before your men?

            I certainly hope that you’re right about his family being okay.

            I won’t celebrate this story and totally disagree with it being a true definition of honoring a vow and showing integrity – that’s just nonsensical.

        • Kathy
          January 28, 2012 at 1:00 AM

          Hello Matt,

          I think we can all appreciate your concerns – deceit, adultery, and the dissolution of the marriage contract are all abominable actions. However, in your arguments, you tend to focus on what N should never have done in the first place – namely, marry a woman when he knew he was gay and subsequently have an extramarital affair. Yes, you are right. N also acknowledges his folly.

          However, as you well know, N cannot turn back the clock. His moral obligations lie in the present. What is the right decision to make in light of the circumstances of his life, and his family’s life, at this point? You will probably agree that suicide would be the worst option, depriving not only himself of life, but his children of a father. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose he has two other choices: come out to his wife, or not come out to his wife. N has chosen honesty with himself, the woman he has committed himself to, and the community at large. While his actions have not always been honorable, it’s never too late to at least try to make right what is wrong. N is courageous not because he is getting divorced, or choosing to be true to himself, or even because his is openly gay in a time when it is still not safe to do so. The reason he is courageous is because this a scary situation for him, yet he is facing it with a certain grace and strength that I don’t believe many of us could muster if called upon to do so. I do not believe that N is attempting to blame his parents, his college friend, or society at large for his current plight. I also believe that he and his wife are working together to find the best solution for their children.

          You have insisted that you do not want to call “Sinner” here, but that is all I hear in between the lines of your responses. Yes, he is a sinner. So am I. So are you, and so is everyone on this planet. Nobody’s life is perfect, and nobody can undo past mistakes – we can only seek to rectify them in the present, and to make the best future for the people we love. I believe that N is doing his best to achieve that, and I thank him for sharing his story with us. And Matt, thank you for participating in this conversation while maintaining a reasonable tone. Let us relegate ourselves to discussing what is presently feasible, and then our conversations might be fruitful.


  10. September 20, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Dude, I’m “striaght” (if there was such a condidtion)…. Bottom line as a former Senior NCO (retired 2008) U.S Army. I would have served under you with repect…and honor you earned. So be proud of who you are, you can not change that. I wished everyone had the courage you have shown by comming out. Good Luck Sir (and yes you deserved that title)…. Semper Fidelis

  11. Franklin
    September 20, 2011 at 4:28 AM

    I want to thank you for your writing. This story was a big help in helping decide to come out to my parents last night. It is amazing how much better I have felt in the last few hours since this has happened. There is a weight lifted off me and I can finally move forward.

  12. N
    September 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    To everyone who has commented (including those who sent their comments to the editor before this e-version was published)–thank you. Your stories encourage me, they lift me up, they make me smile and they make me cry. While I was overseas, I was able to speak to a civilian counselor from Fleet and Family Services. Her non-judgmental, kind advice has been instrumental in my emotional improvement. Since first writing this article, I have had fewer and fewer suicidal thoughts. I have begun to see the beauty in myself that I didn’t believe actually existed, and it is now the anticipation of things to come which gives me strength to deal with things today. I’ve come out to several people in my unit, and they have all been tremendously supportive. While I probably won’t ever tell my boss or my Marines en masse, I imagine that they will eventually discover the truth. At the end of the day, the most important thing that I have discovered is that in order to live, you have to live honestly. In order to be honest about who you are, you have to accept and LOVE yourself. And to love yourself, you have to push away all of the hateful things people have told you and that you have so foolishly believed. Be proud to be you. Be beautiful. Rejoice in that, and you will be happy tomorrow. Thanks for all the kind words. Humbly, “N”.

  13. Rob C.
    September 3, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    What in the hell are you doing in the United States Marines?

    • Nancy H Franco
      September 3, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      Looks to me like he is protecting our butt. =N=

    • September 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      He’s doing his job, that’s what.

      I’m a straight 70 year old USAF Viet Nam Veteran, 60-69. During my military years I worked with lot’s of gay men a lesbian women. None of them would have dared to come out then. Many of us knew but it simply was NEVER a problem. Homophobic people like Rob C. are the root of the problem, NOT the LGBT people, be it military or civilian environment.

      As much as I’d like to rant on and on, it would do no good. Sadly it’s just one more thing our society has to put up with. I support the end of Don’t ask, don’t tell and hope that opportunities for everyone are fully realized.

  14. Dean Deason
    September 2, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    We are always in the midst of change. I was never in the military but my partner was in the USMC so I might have a little idea. One thing I have learned over the many years is that there is always change. All you can control is how you respond to it. Being a Physician, if a patient told me they were thinking of suicide because of their personal life struggles, I would send them to a counselor. I urge you to speak to a nonjudgmental counselor and get some help.

  15. C Casador
    September 1, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    You fine sir, are not alone. I too am a military officer, married with teenaged children. I didn’t come out to my wife, but rather she discovered it by other means. When confronted I told her I was and have always been bisexual–complicating the life and the lie. She continues to feel betrayed as her life is not what she believed it to be. Our “marriage” is completely strained. We have come to an unspoken truce which I feel she has decided to settle into only for the sake of our kids. She has stated how terrible it would be for the kids to find out about their father. As a Special Ops commander I too fear for the reaction of my men when they find out.

    Many times in the past I felt the despair you speak of, but thankfully speaking to a counselor has provided me a different perspective and faith to hold on as things will get better. A little at a time they do, and will continue to do so, along with getting easier. We are in the midst of great change. I’m so overjoyed to be a small part of it–greater joy fills my heart knowing that it will be a different world for the younger generation following in our steps as military leaders.

    • Rin33
      January 27, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Thanks for that Eddie. You are so correct in saying that Rob C. and those like him are the real problem. The reverse is also true; you and those like you are the solution.

  16. September 1, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    I had a similar experience, knowing I was gay when I was in college, but feeling pressure to marry, which I did when I was a junior in college, and then almost immediately (unlike you and your wife) we began having deeply disturbing hateful fights. I dropped out of college and because this was the 70′s I was threatened with the draft, so I joined the Air Force. Being in the military, among men, basic training, the camaraderie, and I hate to say, freedom from my marriage from hell was exactly what I needed. This was Viet Nam, before even don’t ask, don’t tell. And of all things I fell in love with a fellow airman, and he fell in love with me. One of my off-base jobs was working as a waiter in a lesbian nightclub. Back then, the military police would raid the place, looking for military people. Funny thing was, since I worked there they never thought to check my identity. The short hair could have given me away, but by the time I was at my permanent duty station, we could grow our hair longish, as long as it didn’t touch our ears. I grew mine longer, but put dippity do on it and slicked in off my ears. At any rate, my wife decided we should separate, which also felt like freedom, and so after that, since you could get discharged summarily for being gay, if caught, my boyfriend and I went to the base commander and confessed. We both got honorable discharges.

    And then life got to a beautiful place. We were together for fourteen years, before he decided he was “straight.” He wasn’t, but we broke up anyway. He later contracted AIDS. I was once again alone at 42, but then I met my current “husband.” I put myself through the rest of my college with the GI bill, and we’ve been together for 20 years.

    So, please, don’t contemplate suicide. The only constant in life is change. All you can do is embrace the changes and nudge yourself toward influencing them.

  17. Douglas Ward
    August 31, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I was in exactly the same situation. Married. 2 children, aged 5 & 3. Things will get better. I serve in the British Military and I was scared of the reaction but I’ve received nothing but support. In fact it’s probably hard for the other partner. As you say I’ve destroyed here world, her hopes, her dreams, but we are going to work out what to do for the best of the kids. We will one day get divorced, I have no doubt but we gave both agreed not to fight or get into an acrimonious situation. Reading you article gave me hope, and I hope my reply gives you hope too.

  18. Doug Hargrove
    August 31, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I’m a USAF vet (Air Police) from early Vietnam (63-66) and, although I’ve never married, your story really hit me with some strong memories of colleagues who were as deeply in the closet as I was and who took different paths in life. One married, had kids, and lived in an otherwise sterile marriage for nearly 50 years until he died last week. Another had a breakdown while we were in Vietnam when word got out and was hospitalized before being sent back to the States for discharge. Then there was the witch-hunt on the base I was stationed on in New Mexico. And the resulting bad discharges.

    All that time and for years after, I was scared out of my wits that I’d be found out. Then came the mid ’70s and the beginnings of liberation in Colorado where I lived. There was no turning back after that and I haven’t hidden since then. It’s been a great life since I got rid of those irrational fears of total rejection (family, church, friends, employer, and any other tie to a “normal” life).

    Yes, I’ve known more suicides than there ever should have been and, while they can be understood, I still believe they were mistakes out of fear of unknowns – and even knowns – and such a tragic loss to the community.

    Now, it’s a new day that won’t always be easy but it will be bright and happy for most of us; I really hope you can rid yourself of those negative concerns and just move on with what’s good in your life while accepting that bad things will happen in everyone’s life and they’ll be overcome by that good old human tenacity.

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