Yesterday a divorcee posed a complicated question to advice columnist Carolyn Hax: was she responsible for helping her gay ex stay in the closet?

"Conflicted" explains, "After 22 years of (what I thought was) a storybook marriage, my husband confessed to me that he had been secretly pursuing his latent sexual attraction to men." Their divorce was amicable, and they co-parent their two kids, but here's the rub:

Though he has a steady, public "friend," he has chosen to be elusive and not publicly come out, and this has left our friends asking me well-intended questions in their efforts to support me. I feel like my past marriage was a lie for so long, and I never want to have to lie to others again. I need the support of my friends. His own family was very hurt and confused and ready to blame me, and I had to tell them in order to save my relationship with this family I loved and was losing.

I know I'm not supposed to care about what other people think, but it's also important to me that I not lie to friends and family members. How obligated am I to keep his secret?

Hax's answer: "You're not" โ€” unless you're outing him just to get back at him. As Hax points out, Conflicted doesn't sound like she is. But the question is still a difficult one: how obligated are you to keep someone's sexuality a secret, if that secret is causing you pain? Ordinarily, outing someone against their will is one of the worst things you can do โ€” we have a right to privacy in our sexual experiences, and in a homophobic culture, revealing someone's homosexuality all too often comes off as a smear. It shouldn't be that way, but until it's different, everyone should get to control how open they are.

Except: Conflicted's ex is basically denying her the right to heal. And it sounds like he was a bit too willing to let her take the heat for the divorce from his own family. It's hard to fault him for being in the closet during their marriage โ€” for some people, the discovery of sexuality is a long process โ€” but it sounds like he was cheating on her, and now that she's done being deceived, he wants her to help deceived other people. Whatever his sexuality, the guy sounds like an asshole. And asshole behavior doesn't deserve to be protected.


Carolyn Hax: Her Ex Is Gay; Must She Keep That A Secret? [Washington Post]