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To find himself, man takes the long road

Updated: January 28, 2013 5:38PM

Ethan recently got a call from Liza, one of his best friends. They’re both in their early 50s. Both are single. Liza is newly divorced after being married for 25 years. Ethan has been divorced for many years.

Liza wanted advice. She hasn’t dated in many decades and doesn’t know quite how the game is played. She met a man in line. He was a very attractive man in his mid-50s, a senior executive at a prestigious firm. They’ve been going out for a month. They’ve had sex. She’s falling for him, but there’s a problem. He told her he’s bisexual.

Ethan told her, “Honey, walk away. Don’t think this is going to turn into any kind of romance. Admitting you’re bi is the first step in coming out as gay.

“I told her this happens all the time, women fall in love with gay men. I said, ‘Don’t you watch ‘Girls’? ‘Sex and the City’? They’ve both had story lines about women and gay men.

“Women fall for gay men because they have attributes that straight men don’t have. They don’t watch sports all day Sunday; they’ll take you to see ‘Anna Karenina’ and sit on the couch and watch your ‘Project Runway’ with you. I know these sound like stereotypes, but they’re true. There’s a reason gay men and women are such good friends. They have common interests.”

Ethan says Liza was stunned. This man had initially presented himself as straight. Ethan says, “They live in a very provincial city. It’s not an easy place to be gay. He’s probably uncomfortable coming out. He’s not going to take a man to his office Christmas party; he’s going to take a woman.

“Society doesn’t allow us to be our authentic selves.”

Ethan was born in 1961, one of five children in a Catholic family. He went to Catholic schools. “There was a lot of fear of sex in general.”

He says many of his friends tell him they knew they were gay when they were as young as 3 or 4. He didn’t, although he does remember feeling uneasy in the men’s locker room at the swim club when he was 6 or 7.

“There were some furtive glances. I was strangely uncomfortable.”

He dated girls all through high school, although he was attracted to football players. “I realized that probably wasn’t a good thing, so it wasn’t something I’d talk about. But I didn’t have a lot of angst over it. I took girls to all the dances, but I was never interested in them sexually. It was platonic.”

Ethan continued to date girls in college. He says he never allowed the lack of sexual attraction he felt toward women to register. “If I would have acknowledged it, I would have had to accept that my whole life and all the assumptions that I had made about it were wrong. I would be going in a whole different direction.”

Ethan had his first sexual experience when he was 23. It was with a woman. Throughout his 20s, he continued to date women and to buy Playboy magazine when they had the Sex in the Cinema feature so he could look at the men in the photographs. His only sex with men took place in the dark in arcades.

Next, Ethan gets married.

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