Showing posts with label Marriage-Shams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage-Shams. Show all posts

February 19, 2019

'He Kept His Gay past Secret Before we Married, What Now?’


Appeared in Slate

Dear How to Do It,

I adore my husband of 12 years. We have two kids, a great house, and are very close. The big catch: When we met I was very inexperienced and he failed to disclose a lot of information about his own sexual history, which included a boatload of gay sex and orgies and humiliation play. He lied to me for years before finally telling me he was bi. Over the last two years, we have tried a lot of new things to make him happy: We had an open marriage, used toys on each other, watched gay porn, and talked a lot about his fantasies. He stopped talking to his extended family during this time frame and told me one night that he probably would have identified as gay rather than bi if he had a more accepting family.

He insists that he only loves me and doesn’t want to end our relationship, but he also calls me vanilla all the time and insists I find him disgusting. When I make a move, he will often flinch. He gets extremely upset if I express concern that he is going to opt out of our relationship, which I feel is a legit concern. Now he says he is just going to repress that side of himself. I don’t want him to lie to himself, or me, and I don’t care if he is bisexual. I don’t even care if he has someone on the side as long as he is super careful with protection. I love my husband and I don’t want to break up our life, but I don’t know how to move past the unhealthy sexual dynamic in our relationship. Sexually, he has made me feel like I will always be second best.
I don’t think that I should have to feel bad for enjoying heterosexual sex and not needing a lot of the extra bells and whistles, especially since I am ready and willing to play along with the things that interest him. What should I do?

—Blast From the Past

Dear Blast From the Past,

I think you should focus on yourself because you’ve spent way too long focusing on and accommodating your husband. A partner—especially one who failed to disclose so much about himself—should be so lucky to receive a quarter of your effort and acceptance. I almost feel like typing an itemized list based on your question to reflect back to you how much you have done, because I’m not sure that you’re aware of the extraordinary degree of your generosity.

It breaks my heart a little that your husband makes you feel that you will always be second best, and yet you’re still with him and actively pursuing a sex life. I have to wonder why you keep at it. Has the sex, when it’s actually happened, been that good? Until he gets therapy to work through issues around his sexuality, self-hate, and upbringing—which seem clear in your letter—I don’t think either of you will be satisfied, nor will the emotionally abusive ways he’s lashing out at you stop.

But you asked me what you should do, not him. You didn’t mention much about your own sexuality, only as it implicitly relates to your husband’s. To write a proper prescription, I’d need to know more about you. But taking you at your word that your everything else is dandy at home, have you considered seeking some action of your own on the side? I totally understand not wanting to give up the domestic bliss you have with your partner, but it sounds like sex with him is a dead end for now. If you’re really after good old vanilla heterosexual gratification, I agree you shouldn’t feel bad, but I think you’re going to have to look elsewhere. Inquire how he would feel about both of you having someone on the side—maintain your life partnership and compartmentalize your sex as something you have only with others. It’s possible it will make him feel worse, or maybe a sense of relief, but you don’t know until you broach it, possibly with a counselor.

It’s not ideal, but what relationship is? If you set off to find one as an example right now we’d all die before you returned back to your computer to finish reading my answer to your question. So don’t bother. If you’re getting some (which is to say enough) from someone else, the issue of sex will cast a much shorter shadow over your partnership, and it may make your happy home even happier. Or maybe it’ll make him jealous enough to snap him out of simultaneously shaming you and imposing his cockeyed interpretations of your sexual feelings for him. I’m not sure exactly what you need from a short letter, but I’m certain that you deserve better than what you’re getting.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a woman in my early 20s. I grew up imagining sex was going to be amazing, but so far, it’s never quite worked. I get off fine on my own while reading or watching kinky porn or using my imagination, but I get stuck in my head when I’m with another person. I’m not sure if it’s because the sex I’ve been having has been too vanilla, or I’m just finding bad sexual partners, or if there’s something wrong with me. I’ve hooked up with both men and women. I just got out of a serious relationship, and it was some of the worst sex of my life. I definitely don’t think I’m asexual because the desire is still there. I just can’t seem to master the execution.

I’ve been open with partners in the past about not having had an orgasm with another person. They always take it as a challenge, and when whatever they’re doing doesn’t work immediately, they take it personally. Or they just totally give up because they assume I’m not going to come anyway, so why bother? A lot of articles tell you not to worry if you aren’t having orgasms, but I’m not having fun either. It’s almost like because it’s been so bad in the past, I’m too jaded to be present with whoever I’m with. I’ve gotten really good at faking it. I think I used to see being good at sex as being really good at getting the other person off, but now I’m realizing that I’ve spent next to no time trying to figure out how to enjoy myself in my own body. I am interested in exploring kink, but I haven’t even mastered the basics yet. I feel like most people my age have figured out what works for them by now. All the advice I’ve read about this kind of thing tells you to get better at masturbating, but I have that part down! I’ve had so much sex, but I feel like a virgin.

—Forever Virgin

Dear Forever Virgin,

It sounds to me like your problem may be as simple as you’re innately kinkier than the sex you’re having. Please do not feel self-conscious about realizing this in your early 20s. In your early 20s, your brain is still developing—there’s no way you are who you will come to be. As we live, we learn more about ourselves, and as we learn more about ourselves, the sex we have changes. Most people do not have this all figured by your age.

So you are by any reasonable measure very young, and you’ll likely find plenty of people happy to show you the ropes of whatever kink you’re interested in trying out. In fact, a lot of people find the combination of eagerness and inexperience in a partner to be a particular turn-on—you likely won’t merely be taught, you’ll be taught by a teacher who cares, like Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, but for kink. I don’t know which kink zests your lemon, so I can’t provide advice beyond that. But the internet is a big place with very specific connections, so I’m going to assume you can Google your path to an orgasm attended by at least one partner of your choice.

Dear How to Do It,

My husband and I have been together for 10 years. Our sex life is mutually satisfying except for one small (big?) problem. My husband is a big guy: 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. I am smaller at 5-foot-2, 130 pounds. Our size mismatch is further complicated by the fact that his penis is smaller than average, and his belly can get in the way of deep penetration during sex. The result is that there are exactly three positions that allow us satisfying friction: missionary, cowgirl, and doggy style. After 10 years, I’m fairly bored with these same three positions and long (ha!) for something more. Am I doomed to forever repeat the same old routine? Is there some kind of workaround that I haven’t thought of?


Dear Mismatched, 

You’re going to have to think beyond positions here. When a dick doesn’t expand your hole of choice, you’re just going to have to expand your mind. By now, the two of you are road-tested enough that you can tick off exactly what positions work for you. I could bust out some old action figures (say, a He-Man and Princess Leia) to strategize how to further negotiate your size difference, but I think you’re good there. Luckily for both of you, there are several sexual avenues you can explore that don’t involve penetrative sex (like say, oh, oral), or that dress it up to the point of making penetration function more like a side dish—or at least like a co-main (like, say, bondage).

But really, your multiple Freudian pratfalls (those were not slips!) suggest that you’re jonesing for a bigger dick, at least sometimes. So get one. Recruit a living one if your husband is down for a threesome, or get yourself a nice fat dildo and play with it with him. Buy an extender he can put on his penis during sex, or a vibrating cock ring that will add some zing to your bang. By now, through the sheer positioning trial and error that your letter alludes to, he must know that his dick is not huge. It’s OK for you to want some variation, especially if your sex life with him is active, and a toy is a completely reasonable negotiation if he’s not willing to explore group sex. I trust you know the best way to broach this with your husband, and I’d wager he wouldn’t mind mixing it up too.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a 61-year-old man—active, fit, and married for 25 years. My wife, whom I love and would never want to hurt, is 66, post-menopausal, and has completely lost interest in sex.
I haven’t had intercourse in two years or experienced any real physical passion, and I’m starting to lose my mind. I’ve considered using a hookup app or going to a prostitute, but both options aren’t very attractive to me so I’ve been reluctant to pull the trigger. What else can I do?

—Still in It

Dear Still in It,

You don’t give any indication that you’ve discussed this in any detail with your wife, so that’s what you should do first. I don’t recommend seeking outside sex without her blessing or at least her knowledge. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to want to find another target for your sexual energy. While getting there is likely to be an emotional process that requires compassion and reassurance, this is a purely pragmatic issue. You want sex, she doesn’t, so you’re going to have to get it outside your home. If she’s truly not interested anymore, it’s a fair ask, though it may take her some getting used to, and it may come with a list of requests and rules to make this process as painless for her as possible.
Honor all of them.

Please, though, make sure that you confirm in words that she’s completely lost interest in sex. I’ve only been writing this column for a month, but I’m already acutely aware that a lot of people are living unsatisfying sex lives in (and because of) silence and uncertainty. Maybe she does still have desires and needs your help to realize them.

If you’ve discussed all this and still, for unspecified reasons, aren’t interested in a hookup app or paying for sex, you have more options. Make a sexy friend. Dabble with guys and visit a glory hole or a gym sauna—less work than an app. Or resign yourself to a life wherein your primary sexual activity is masturbation. If you don’t do anything about this situation, you’re going to have to.


October 26, 2016

In Louisiana an Immigrant May Not Get Married [Gay or Straight]

 Humans without human Rights! Louisiana


When Victor Anh Vo went with his fiancée to obtain a marriage license, he instead received a nasty shock: The couple was legally barred from getting married. Both Vo and his fiancée are American citizens of legal age—but Vo was born in a refugee camp and has no official birth certificate. As a parish clerk informed the devastated couple, that disqualifies him from obtaining a license, because Louisiana law forbids anyone without a birth certificate from marrying within the state.

This requirement is no ancient rule. It was enacted just last year during a fit of legislative xenophobia driven by paranoia that immigrants were committing marriage fraud in Louisiana. Now a coalition of attorneys from the National Immigration Law Center, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and the law firm Skadden, Arps is challenging the measure in court. Their fight to overturn the law is the first big marriage equality battle post-Obergefell, and it poses a nearly identical question: Can states deny individuals their fundamental right to marry because they don’t think certain people deserve to get married?

On the surface, the Lousiana law, dubbed Act 436, might not appear especially insidious. The bill simply adds documentary requirements to the marriage licensing process. Applicants must now provide a Social Security number and a birth certificate before receiving a license. If they don’t have a Social Security number, then they must present a birth certificate and a passport. If they don’t have a passport, they need official documentation showing that they are in the United States legally—in addition to a birth certificate. (A previous statute allowed an individual with no birth certificate to prove his or her identity before a judge, but that judicial bypass procedure is now gone.) The upshot of these requirements is that someone like Vo, who was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam, cannot ever get married in Louisiana.

Why did the Louisiana legislature add these extensive new requirements, which then–Gov. Bobby Jindal happily signed into law? Rep. Valarie Hodges, Act 436’s sponsor, initially asserted that the bill was necessary to “combat marriage fraud” broadly. But after the bill passed, Hodges acknowledged that its true purpose was to combat immigration fraud, stating that her measure was necessary to prevent immigrants from marrying citizens solely to get lawful permanent resident status. Immigrant marriage fraud, however, is not known to be a particular problem in Louisiana—and federal law explicitly grants the federal government, not the states, the power to combat it.

I asked Alvaro Huerta, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, what he thought the bill’s true purpose was.

“Act 436’s intention isn’t really combatting marriage fraud writ large,” Huerta told me. “The bill is trying to get at immigrants—and, in particular, making it very difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain marriage licenses.”

Audrey Stewart, the managing director at the New Orleans Center for Racial Justice, agreed. “This law is not about marriage fraud,” she told me. “It is an attack on immigrant families and communities. And it’s rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment.”

But Act 436’s challengers don’t even need to prove the bill’s insidious intent in court: It is, by its own terms, almost certainly unconstitutional under Obergefell. In that decision, the court reiterated that marriage is a fundamental right, a critical component of the “liberty” protected by the Constitution, and held that states may not deny marriage rights based on some arbitrary distinction. Nationality or immigration status is surely as arbitrary a distinction as gender—so a law that restricts marriage rights on those bases is just as invalid as a law that restricts marriage rights on the basis of sexual orientation. That’s why the suit against Act 436 opens with the stirring peroration from Obergefell, an encomium to marriage proclaiming that all loving couples deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

“Obergefell didn’t explicitly extend to immigration,” Huerta told me, “but the argument is there. It’s spot-on precedent for this case. Louisiana can’t pass laws that infringe on that right to marry unless they have a very compelling state reason. And we can’t think of any compelling reasons for wanting to keep some people, particularly immigrants, from getting married to the people that they love—or preventing the people who love immigrants from marrying them”
Without the certificate, how can we be sure they were actually born?

Huerta noted that even if the suit doesn’t prevail under Obergefell, Act 436 is still a straightforward violation of the Equal Protection Clause (which generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin). But Obergefell is the headlining precedent here, and the all-stars of the marriage equality movement have already lined up to support the suit. Indeed, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has already signaled its eagerness to contribute to the litigation in any way it can. I asked the group’s legal director, Shannon Price Minter, why the group was jumping into this battle. He provided me with the remarks he delivered to the National Immigration Law Center in throwing his organization’s support behind the suit:

Speaking on behalf of the LGBT community, whose fundamental freedom to marry was only recently recognized in this country, just last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are appalled by Louisiana’s blatant attempt to deny the fundamental right to marry to immigrants, which of course includes many LGBT people who have come to this country from other places and who are now living in Louisiana.
As LGBT people know from recent experience, the purpose and impact of such laws are so invidious and harmful—and especially so here, when the discrimination is targeted at a class of people, immigrants, who have already experienced so much discrimination and abuse and who are under attack in such a vicious way by one of our presidential candidates.

Laws such as these are intended to—and do—send a clear message that immigrants are not entitled to equal dignity and respect, and that their relationships are not worthy of the same protections as other. They have a devastating practical impact as well, as same-sex couples experienced for so many years, in denying couples the ability to protect their relationships and their families.

The connection Minter draws between this litigation and same-sex marriage is potent and depressingly topical. This election season has featured relatively little conversation about gay people’s rights—and extensive debate about the rights of immigrants. Much like George W. Bush campaigned on homophobia in 2004, Donald Trump has rooted his campaign in vicious xenophobia, promoting legalized discrimination against immigrants and making many feel unwelcome in the United States. For LGBTQ advocates, the parallels to their own recent history are impossible to ignore. And Louisiana will soon discover that after Obergefell, the constitutional guarantee of “equal dignity” for all cannot be so easily abridged.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues

November 28, 2015

Sham Marriages in China Helps Gay Grooms Match to other Gay Grooms

Qiang is sitting next to his wife, Jing, in a Shanghai shopping mall. Also at the table is Jie, Qiang’s boyfriend. The trio are attempting to explain their relationship. “It’s complicated,” says Qiang, laughing.

When Qiang married Jing in 2013, his boyfriend Jie was his best man. That same week Jie married Jing’s girlfriend. Then Jing split up with her girlfriend, who subsequently divorced Jie. The tangled situation represents two examples of a recent surge in China in the amount of sham unions between gays and lesbians.

There are around 16 million gay Chinese men married to women who are unaware of their husbands’ sexuality, say researchers at Qingdao University. The unions are fraught with emotional dangers. So increasing numbers of gay men and lesbians are now turning to each other for what they see as an option with less potential for disaster. “I didn’t feel jealous seeing Qiang marry a woman in front of me,” says Jie, 32. “As long as our families felt happy, we were happy. We solved a problem.”

Like millions of other Chinese of their generation, the trio faced pressure from their parents to have a traditional family, complete with grandchildren. “I couldn’t force my parents to accept that I’m gay,” says Qiang. “Beliefs are different between generations. You can’t change it.”
There is no bitterness or anguish in his voice when he talks about this deception. He and Jing have planned their marriage to cause minimum disruption to their real lives. They meet for family dinners a few times a month but do not live together – Qiang lives with Jie. “We have parents round but we don’t let them stay overnight,” says Jing. “My wife lives very close to me,” says Qiang. “It’s easy when parents visit at short notice.”

Qiang and Jie met their wives after trawling lesbian websites, exchanging messages then meeting and forging friendships. Jie unfolds a hand-written contract he and his ex-wife signed prior to their wedding and reads through the terms they agreed on. Such contracts are common in sham marriages and usually outline terms of financial independence. Jie’s also states that he would be responsible for 70 per cent of the costs of raising a child born in his marriage.

“We argued a little about the about the surname of the child,” Jie says. “Then we finally agreed that it would be the same as mine.” Qiang, a lawyer, has a similar contract with his wife. “They are legally binding,” he says.

Homosexuality is still described as a mental disorder in some Chinese textbooks
Homosexuality is still described as a mental disorder in some Chinese textbooks
The process for organising such marriages got easier last January with the launch of the app Queers. It works like a dating site, matching gay men with lesbians. Users upload photos and vital statistics such as weight, height and income. They explain whether they want a baby from the marriage.

Women who look typically straight “are desirable as it makes it easier to cheat parents”, says Liao Zhuoying, the founder of Queers. 

Queers has over 400,000 users, around half of whom are aged 25-35: the age when pressure to marry is most heavy. “Activists have accused us of setting up barriers, helping people shy away from their problems,” says Liao. “But we are solution providers. It’s impossible for all gays and lesbians to come out in Chinese society.”

People take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015.
Homosexuality was illegal in China until 1997 and was listed as a mental disorder until 2001. Last month media reports showed that gay conversion therapy is still widespread in China.

It’s unsurprising that so many people keep their homosexuality a secret. Although most users of Queers use it to set up a marriage to fool their parents, Liao says that some do so with the co-operation of their families to keep their sexuality a secret from wider society. “In China, keeping a family’s face is important,” he says.

The website serves the same purpose as Queers. Launched in 2005, it has around the same number of users as the app, and founder Lin Hai claims that it has facilitated around 50,000 sham marriages so far. “Before the site there was no real concept of sham marriages in China,” he says. “Gay men would just marry a straight woman.” Lin says that, like Liao, he sometimes hears from parents of homosexuals. “They are trying to find a way to respect their children while still conforming to society.”

People take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015.
Gay man writes letter after his parents refused to come to his wedding
Rules stopping gay men from giving blood to be reviewed
Gay men give straight men their best life tips
For most users the ultimate goal of such marriages is to have a baby. After two years as husband and wife, Qiang and Jing are planning for a pregnancy. They will soon buy a syringe and attempt to use it to inseminate Jing with Qiang’s sperm at home, but will consult medical experts if that proves unsuccessful. “We want to do this for ourselves as well as our parents,” says Jing. “But we will probably let our child spend most of its time with our parents then take over when it reaches the age of three.”

For Jie, the issue of a child led to the breakdown of his sham marriage. His wife had agreed to have a baby but changed her mind after the wedding, prompting their divorce. Jie then took the uncommon decision last August to come out to his parents.

“My mother cried uncontrollably and asked, ‘How could you be that way?’” he says. “She said she blamed herself for allowing me to live somewhere like Shanghai, where ‘weird people’ live. When I told my father he said, ‘I feel like there’s a fly in my mouth. Disgusting’.”

Despite a period of estrangement from his parents, Jie is now back in contact with them. They are being educated with the help of support groups set up to help parents understand homosexuality, and Jie says he feels happier now he doesn’t have to lie to them.

A recently married couple take wedding photos in front of Shaghai's business district
A recently married couple take wedding photos in front of Shaghai's business district
There are glimpses of progress in Chinese society’s views on homosexuality. Government leaders have recently made public shows of meeting gay tech industry leaders in bridge-building exercises and the influence of China’s young, liberal social media users is rising.

“The wheel of history is moving forward,” says Liao. “But not everyone is courageous enough to stand at the forefront. We are solving problems for these people. Maybe the demand for sham marriages will shrink in the future, our app will die and society will progress.”

But for now the deceit continues. “I’ve wanted to come out many times,” says Jing. “But if I do that, the pressure will be transferred to my parents. It’s selfish. I’m doing this to make my parents comfortable.”

Jamie Fullerton Shanghai

Additional reporting by Cissy Young. The names of some interviewees have been changed.

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