Sunday, July 13, 2014

Health Care Horrors

The past few weeks have been difficult to say the least. As I had to come to the very difficult decision of putting my older partner, who has many physical and mental issues, into a nursing home. Along this dark journey I have encountered many people, some of whom were compassionate and helpful and others who were ... not. My partner is a veteran but we had a highly unpleasant experience with the VA's Primary Home-Based Care Program. In general, health care and nursing homes are not that sensitive to gay/LGBT issues. Over the next few weeks I'll be relating my experiences, both good and bad, with the VA, physical rehab centers, and nursing homes. I have to say that I found SAGE -- a group for older gay people -- to be very helpful on a variety of matters. Dr. Bill

Boyfriend and Gay Porn

Hello Dr. Bill.

I have a little problem and I need your help.

Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 years. We are in our late twenties. We are a great couple, respect each other, and have great sex life. He treats me well, is very honest with me, and his friends and family love me. We are planning to live together next month.

The problem is that I found gay porn on his lap top - and a lot of it. There's also straight porn in there, shemales, foot fetish porn, but the problem is that the gay porn is a lot, more than 50%! And it's not just website history, he has it downloaded and saved - both photos and videos. I've noticed that the porn downloaded from 2 years ago is mostly straight, but this year's porn is mostly gay. 

I have many close gay friends, and they never mentioned to me that my new boyfriend is weird. I support gays, but I believe it's bad for me and him to be together if he is a closeted gay, we might suffer more in the future when he admits, because we have a very serious relationship and might end up married!

I am sure that he loves me, and our love is not a lie, but I don't know if he has gay feelings which he is repressing, or he just likes weird porn. 

He is very religious, and for a period stopped having flings and adventures and was looking for the right girlfriend -- I am that right girlfriend.

He also says he doesn't have a problem with gay people, so he is neither homophobic, nor really supportive (he says it seems unnatural to him, but it's their private matter, so who is he to judge?) So, he's somewhere in the middle. I don't know what to make of it. [Thinking homosexuality is "unnatural" is homophobic!]

He says he never had a gay experience, but as all people, during high school wondered about his sexual orientation: straight, gay, bi? He never experimented to confirm, just realized he is straight.

I talked to him about porn, told him that I know he watches, and I don't like that he hides that from me. but I didn't tell him I had actually seen his porn folder. I told him it's very important to me to tell me what he watches, so that I know what he likes. At this point, he wasn't very defensive, he was open with me, told me he loves our sex life, but that he watches some weird porn and that doesn't mean he likes to try it. He mentioned the gay porn when giving me a short list of what had he watched, but didn't single it out. He said his father exposed him to pornography beginning at age six and he has always watched a lot of it.

One red flag though, is that when we were about 1 year together, I joked that he likes men, and because I had made that joke before, he snapped at me, but then was really sorry. It is weird because he is a very nice guy, and never before, nor after, has he offended me or raised his voice to me.

My only concern is that he might be a closeted gay/bi because of the porn, and I think that should be resolved for both our sakes. I have helped one gay friend of mine to get out of the closet, I know how it feels, but now since this is my boyfriend, it's totally different. And I am asking you and not my gay friends, because I believe if I tell anyone I will jeopardize my boyfriend's privacy and maybe hurt his feelings if he finds out I've been doubting or asking.

Please help me.

There's no easy answer to this one because there are cases of people who like to look at pornography in all of its varieties without necessarily wanting to engage in similar behavior, but when half of what he looks at is gay-oriented ...? Also, people who are very religious often repress their homosexual nature because they are dealing with issues of shame and guilt and denial. They try to satisfy their homoerotic urges by watching gay porn, figuring they're not really gay if they aren't actually having gay sex. His snapping at you when you joked about his liking men, especially if you didn't mean it in a nasty way, could mean that he's very touchy about the subject, another indication that he could be closeted. His feeling that homosexuality is "unnatural," as well. You can understand that if he feels that way and is privately gay/bi he is bound to have feelings of what we call "internalized homophobia" or self-hatred. And honestly, I don't believe that everyone wonders about their sexual orientation in high school. Mostly people who are gay or bisexual and a little confused.

His having looked at porn when he was a child is another issue. Showing a child pornography might even be considered a form of child abuse. Something more serious may have happened in his childhood that has made him confused over his sexuality.

The problem is that the only way to really learn the truth is to have a frank talk with your boyfriend -- without being negative or accusatory. As you say this needs to be resolved. There are far too many women who marry guys who finally come out of the closet years later, and it's devastating for them. If he has an attraction to men, he needs to deal with it and accept it, even if he needs professional help or at the very least counseling to do so. There is also the question, if he's bisexual, of whether his main attraction is to men or women. [In any case, if he has never fully explored his homosexuality, he will undoubtedly want to do so some day.]

Also, if he was abused or molested as a child, he should also seek counseling or therapy to help him deal with those issues. 

I'm sure you understand that there's just no way to be certain at this point, as frustrating as that may be for you. If he is able to resolve these issues, on his own or with help, it will at least help you to make a decision about a future with this man.