Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: Sleeping with other people’s husbands

He was the last person I expected to make my hotline bling after the dozens of photos he was tagged in on Facebook the previous weekend.

“You should probably enjoy your honeymoon,” I replied with a kiss-blowing emoji. “Soak up this special moment, and maybe we can connect soon.”

I closed the text message and reflexively tapped the Facebook icon for distraction. In the few seconds it took my newsfeed to load, I contemplated having just casually agreed to have sex with a married man.

More specifically, with a man I knew was married, freshly married, because I had just seen pictures of him and his groom. He and his husband. He and his husband’s parents.

Before I could resolve the ethics of my text conversation, a picture appeared on my newsfeed announcing that another of my regular hookups was now married. I was suddenly woozy from how wrong I had been in thinking the legalization of same-sex marriage wouldn’t have any impact on the daily life of a gay bachelor with no interest in getting married.

Hooking up with a married man has always been nonnegotiable for me, with the caveat that screening for marital status is traditionally lax. However, being a “married man” had always meant to me that there was a wife involved, which guaranteed that there were secrets, deception and emotional damage attached to such a liaison, and so it was not something in which I wanted to participate.

I don’t automatically assign such sinister absolutes—secrets, deception, emotional damage—to a married man who has a husband, and I realize that’s a self-serving courtesy. It’s harder to feel guilty about violating someone’s marriage, hurting their unsuspecting partner, when you excuse yourself from knowing the rules that govern their marriage.

I know the rules that govern straight husbands, and how most of them violate those rules by sleeping with someone other than their wives. I know that, out of a mixture of kindness and laziness, society now assumes those same rules, the rules that straight men violate all the time, ought to apply to gay husbands, and many of us gaily accept those rules to govern our love, to make our marriages real.

But there are some gay couples who believe their relationship is real, their love worthy of commitment and protection, and they exchange vows without the expectation of sexual exclusivity. If you should ever have the chance to spend the night with this type of couple, together, some of my favorite—

Sorry, different column. For now, most gay men seem to accept the rule that lifelong love requires sexual fidelity, and if they enter into marriage, they expect monogamy from their partn– from their husbands. Which forces me to deliberate what, if any, obligation I have to a spouse that I don’t know, someone so naive that I, with all of my deliberation, am the least of their worries.

It’s all something new to keep it in mind while wading through the post-Obergefell dating pool. Legalized same-sex marriage wasn’t supposed to make my carefree love life eligible for a “Jerry Springer” episode or “World Star” video.