More Than One Way Out

Reaction to the gay coming out of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey has ranged from viewing his actions as heroic to hypocritical to irrelevant. Some have focused on the aftermath of his deceptions and coming out on his wife and children. These are natural reflections. It continues to be a surreal scene in my memory seeing the soon-to-be former chief executive declaring his sexuality in nationalistic terms—”I am a gay American”—along with his wife, the mother of their two year-old. However, in all of the opining, I cannot recall a commentator reflecting insightfully on any other option available to the governor aside from coming out as gay. In other words, must one declare a gay identity, as did the New Jersey Governor, if one experiences attractions to the same sex?

In some circles such a question marks one as a homophobe of the highest order. However, if one has already married heterosexually then the questions gets a bit more complicated.  Living with the secret as Governor McGreevey did appears to have led to multiple deceptions and according to his public statements contributed to the unraveling of his tenure as Governor. So says openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank. In a recent Advocate article, Frank commented, “The governor made a mistake and did inappropriate things driven by frustrations of the closet and not having the emotional and physical outlets that all human beings need.” In other words, the Governor’s experience is proof positive that coming out as gay is the only appropriate response to homosexual inclinations.

Don’t tell that to Rob and Lois Winslow of Littleton, CO. For approximately 25 years Rob was one of those closeted people pitied so by those now lauding Governor McGreevey. Prior to marrying, Rob had disclosed his same sex feelings to his wife Lois but they went ahead with marriage. About 10 years ago, Rob confessed to Lois that the struggle he had before marriage had continued and their world was turned upset down. Although Lois was supportive and loving, the couple embarked on a painful road to save their marriage. Rob was not a prominent public official with no news conference to make his revelation. He is a businessman who had come to the decision that he was indeed a gay American who was on his way to declaring it. Concerning Governor McGreevey’s statement of struggle, Rob said, “That’s exactly how I felt. I wanted to leave my family.”

In December 1995, after 2 children and 15 years of marriage, Rob set off on a business trip he hoped would turn into a weekend of gay sex with a male co-worker. What he found instead was an encounter with a man who described what he called “sexual healing.” Not in the Marvin Gaye sense, but rather the co-worker described how he had experienced healing from sexual addiction and a renewed commitment to his marriage. Rob was intrigued. “When I learned that there was another option, I was excited.”

His quest for change came through various counselors and eventually involved an Exodus International ministry. He told me recently in an interview that he has not had a homosexual experience in 8 years and now “I am no longer attracted to men at all.”

Concerning Governor McGreevey, Rob says he can empathize with his situation. “I think I can relate to him. These (same sex) feelings seemed that they had always been a part of my life.” Now however, Rob sees this issue from a different perspective. “Although I think I understand what he (McGreevey) is saying, I think it is sad for him and his family. What I have now is so much better.”

So as far as married men being in the closet, Rob does not recommend it. He just wants people to know there is more than one way out.