The Perilous Mirage of Monogamy

The last thing I wanted to be doing at five o’clock on a Monday morning was escorting a member of one of Atlanta’s royal couples out of my apartment. The bemusing scene became more unsettling a day later when I learned that at the exact hour of our encounter, someone else’s well-known husband was murdering his paramour in Dunwoody.

Off and on for the past two years, I’ve rented a room to a friend of a friend who is a 20-something transplant attempting to establish and enjoy a life Atlanta. I’ve tried to accommodate for where I was at that age but became frustrated after he returned in January and moved his boyfriend in within the first month.

We discussed that mishap, but my roommate “corrected” it by being dumped by his boyfriend (who was using him for housing), and replacing him with a daily parade of hook-ups and new besties. Explaining how I was tired of bumping into strangers every time I came home from work or took a piss, I asked for us to go a single week without having any guests.

There had already been three visitors on the first day of our experiment when I was awoken by a commotion in my hallway. I furiously opened my bedroom door and my roommate cried in a panic, “It’s just me!”

I flicked on the light and saw two men walking up the stairs behind him. I informed them our apartment was closed for the evening, had a brief conversation with the drunken relationship icon and encouraged him to go home to his husband, whom I consider a friend.

My faith in my friend and their relationship lets me believe they have already talked about the parameters of their marriage, and so I was content with leaving the episode in my stairway. Hours later, sordid details emerged about a married, gay high school teacher killing his boyfriend before taking his own life while fleeing from police.

I wondered if the teacher and his husband had that talk about their marriage, or whether cheating was something the widower was having to process on top of murder and the loss of his soulmate. That discussion wouldn’t lessen his suffering or bring back the innocent gay man who was slain, but the lack of it might compound the surviving spouse’s grief and confusion.

The partners in any relationship are the only people entitled to private knowledge about their bond and any understandings reached between them. However, I’ve written before about sleeping with other people’s husbands and my hopes for gay men to explore a romantic ethic rooted in reality; and it’s worth considering any obligation gay couples have to a community that celebrates them as monogamous when they know they are not.

Anytime I see folks admiring a heterosexual couple that has been married for 50 or 60 years, I yearn for the husband and wife to share how they stuck with their relationship after it was clear it wasn’t what society told them it should be, usually once he started fucking other people. That’s to say, the mirage of monogamy is not an exclusively gay dilemma, and part of the responsibility is on gay fans of LGBTQ power couples who layer their idols with their expectations of what makes a relationship successful.

It’s fashionable for gay men to mock “new-age open relationships” without recognizing that in the thousands of years of male-male sodomy, it is a monogamous marriage that is the radical ideal. Folks love to belittle their gay brothers for settling for what they consider fake companionship, without realizing their #baegoalz are seeking early-morning threesomes and committing murder-suicides.