Like most of the posh papers, the Daily Telegraph does its own version of 'readers true stories' articles. Last week, just after the Keith Vaz story broke, they had one called 'I felt like I was falling': the moment I found out my husband was leading a double life. He was gay.
Gosh, how did they know? Someone had sent him a postcard from Australia which mentioned seeing men sunbathing and saying he'd enjoy the view.
After 10 years together, seven of marriage, it was instantly clear that Peter was gay.
Attracted to men, perhaps, but why 'gay' and not 'bisexual'?
Indeed, so much of his behaviour began to make sense: the way he was often a few hours’ late home, a reputation for flakiness among his family and friends earned by being unreliable, hard to pin down. The sort of behaviour you can get used to and write off as unremarkable. But which now suggested he had been meeting men for casual sex behind my back.
Clearly, 'OMG, they're shagging everything' is one fear, but what makes her think it was casual sex he was having?
Perhaps Keith Vaz’s wife has had the same eureka moment of clarity, after the MP was revealed this weekend to have been with gay prostitutes. Perhaps she is still in denial. Or maybe she already knew that her husband was not completely heterosexual – or faithful – long ago, and has found a way to be at peace with this information.
Apart from the 'in denial' aside, this is one of the few pieces to say that it's possible she knew.
Here, the author describes what sounds like a sexual relationship that was happy for both of them: meeting, falling in love, marrying after three years, trying for a child.
Then two (sic) later, in 2001, I found that postcard. I called a gay friend who calmed me down, and reminded me – usefully – that what I was dealing with first and foremost was infidelity… just with a same-sex partner rather than the opposite sex.
At this point, there's nothing to suggest that he has been sexual with anyone else…
I had a cup of tea, walked the dog, and when Peter came home, I told him what I had found.
He didn’t break down. He didn’t try to deny the friend or that he had a sexual interest in men. He didn’t, however, agree he was gay.
Just perhaps, maybe, he isn't.
Having decided for him that he is…
I thought I would be able to help him come out altogether. I thought it was a question of courage. Now I’m not sure. I don’t think he wanted to come out because I don’t think he wanted to be gay. Somehow, for him, it was preferable to be bisexual.
Other straight spouses of closeted gay men and women have confirmed to me they have experienced the same. Partly that is due to a natural fear of prejudice – but some also don’t want to own their sexuality.
When she's prepared to own his sexuality for him, I wonder why anyone would want to do it themselves…
I was happy to believe him. We had a good life, a nice home. I wanted to save our marriage. We went to counselling. We made love.
But every so often I’d have a snoop. And I’d find a ticket to a gay club, or find a receipt for a gay sex toy.
I'd love to know what a gay sex toy is. Anal toys aren't just for gay men…
But I was tired of being in the closet of a big lie. I found that hard to forgive. The next day, we agreed to split.
Having decided that he wasn't what she thought he was, a straight man, she ended it because he wouldn't say he was what she now demanded he say he was, a gay man.
I do feel he stole my adult life away. He could have told me before we got married that he felt he was bisexual and wanted an open marriage. He could have told me when I found the postcard that he was gay and given me the chance to start again. He could have told me that like many men – gay or straight – he didn’t want to be monogamous.
After saying that he might have felt bisexual before marriage, she leaps to saying he should have said he was gay, and then ignores bisexual men in the monogamy bit. Does she think bisexuals cannot be monogamous?
She finishes by saying that she doesn't hate him, that she thinks they still love each other, and that after she's divorced, she will "have to decide how to approach dating again." (Why wait until then?)
There's then the Telegraph's 'if you have been affected by..' referral:
Names have been changed. Straight partners of gay, lesbian and transgender people can find confidential support via firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's look at the website: "a support group for straight people whose partner is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender".
This is what erasure looks like.
(Thanks to @blue_bec for spotting this one.)