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By The Book

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A Look at GLBT Books in the Hamilton County Public Library

by Don Baker

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Bisexual and Gay Husbands: Their Stories, Their Words, edited by Fritz Klein, M.D., and Thomas Schwartz (New York: Harrington Park Press, an Imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc., 2001).

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This reviewer knows a man who was over 50 years old and in a 30-year marriage and who came out only after discovering a married-gay online chat room. There he found out that he was not the only person in his position. There he realized at last that a person can be gay and not be a despicable human being. There he found the courage to tell other people things about himself he had always kept deeply repressed. That is the sort of story the men in this book have to tell.

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Klein is a sex researcher specializing in the area of bisexuality. Schwartz is a gay married man who is out to his spouse, family, and friends. In their introduction they write, "Many bisexual/gay men are married and live a [secret] ‘heterosexual’ life. … This invisibility manifests on many levels: in the society in general, in the gay community, in the marriage and family itself, and, in many cases, in the man himself." Now, because of the internet, such men can find and talk to other men who are married to women but also have attractions to and/or sex with other men. "For the first time in their lives they have now been able to share their stories safely and anonymously."

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The book is a compilation of e-mails gleaned by Schwartz’s participation in such internet chat rooms. Many of the writers, like "George," realize "that coming out, letting the world know we aren’t really bad guys after all, is what must happen to attain a greater degree of acceptance … yet we are, for a variety of personal reasons, afraid to come out any further than we have."

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Another example is "Jock," whose wife discovered his affair with another man: "I was prepared to be thrown out, but that was better than continuing the charade. For years I’ve been having random encounters in parked cars and trying to get gay sex when I could in secret. This often meant finding other cheating spouses who understood the need to be discreet, who weren’t bothered by meeting only on certain days and at certain times, and so on. I just got tired of it all."

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Some of the statements are isolated dispatches, but many are threads of question-response-comment that make for lengthy group dialogues of help, heartbreak, and hope. They are arranged by chapters on Coming Out, Sexual Orientation, Male Relationships, Relationship with Wife, Our Kids, Advice and Comments, Moral Issues, Leaving the Marriage, and "Miscellaneous."

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Bisexual and Gay Husbands can be found in the Education and Religion Department of the Main Library. Interested readers can order it sent to any convenient branch.

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