To give a little context…the year was 1975, I was 21 years old and had been married less than a year. It was four years before I would come across an article in the Chicago Tribune’s women’s page on homosexuality and learn that homosexuals preferred to be called gay, “went into the closet” and “came out.”
Early one morning I woke up from an erotic dream and still half asleep reached for my wife. I started kissing her and don’t know how long we kissed but it was wonderful. Then I started to come out of my half awake, half asleep state and realized the dream had been about a man. I couldn’t remember the dream but I knew. But it wasn’t just that. When I started kissing my wife, I had purposely paid no attention to her being a woman; just focused on how much I loved her. Now waking up I suddenly became aware of her gender and the erotic feelings stopped cold.
I was completely unnerved. No matter how strong my heterosexual feelings were I couldn’t ignore what had just happened. Heterosexual men do not dream about other men. And it didn’t matter how erotic the experience with my wife had been. It didn’t fit into any definition of heterosexuality I knew of. And then there was the betrayal. My wife deserved to be loved for being a woman, not despite it.
I was demoralized. Why was this happening now? The heterosexual feelings had always been magical and for over a year I hadn’t experienced a single homosexual feeling. Now I waited and worried. It didn’t take long to find out the feelings were back and just as strong as ever.
Right away I noticed I was pulling away from my wife emotionally. I was putting up walls to protect myself and these walls were making it near impossible for me to feel a sense of intimacy with her. I was afraid if I told her she would leave me. But if I couldn’t be emotionally close to my wife then what was the point of being married? So I decided to tell her. But then I thought if I am not heterosexual, I have no right to be married. To me the whole world thought this way including my wife. So now I was certain she would leave me. It didn’t matter. Without closeness what was the point? And it would be deceitful not to tell her. I resolved to tell her as soon as possible. I just didn’t know what to say.
A few weeks later, on a beautiful Saturday morning, my wife had gone grocery shopping and I was in our bedroom closet, sitting in the dark, crying. The night before I had tried to tell her but chickened out at the last moment. Since the morning of the dream I had thought and thought about what to say but none of the words I had come up with felt true. Anyway, I must have been in the closet much longer than I thought because all of a sudden the door opened and there stood my wife.
She said “Phil, why are you in the closet?” and I literally came out of the closet.
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