Case Studies, Gay Guise: What Do to When Your Client Has Sex with Men, but Is Straight

By Guise, Gay | Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Case Studies, Gay Guise: What Do to When Your Client Has Sex with Men, but Is Straight


Guise, Gay, Psychotherapy Networker


CASE STUDIES

Gay Guise What do to when your client has sex with men, but is straight By Joe Kort

Paul, a slim, attractive, 29-year-old white man who owns a landscaping company, was referred to me by his therapist (with whom he was making no progress) shortly after he attempted suicide. He told me that eight months previously, Julie, his fiancée, had discovered that he'd been having unprotected anal sex with men. When she confronted him, he denied it, but soon broke down and confessed. Devastated and angry, she broke off their engagement, accusing him of being duplicitous (she believed they were monogamous) and secretive. Worst of all, she felt frightened that he'd put her at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Paul loved Julie and said he knew she was the woman for him. They'd dated for three years and been engaged for one. He hadn't told her about his homoerotic tendencies, nor had he confessed his suspicions that he might be bisexual. Then again, he thought every guy had some homoerotic thoughts that he probably kept private. He couldn't understand why Julie was so angry with him or why she didn't try to understand what he was going through.

Instead, Julie had rebuffed all his desperate and obsessive attempts to win her back. Ultimately, she'd had a restraining order issued against him. Shortly after this, Paul engaged in a binge of sexual acting-out with both men and women, culminating in the suicide attempt that brought him to my office.

This has happened many times: a man comes into my office, referred by his own therapist and clutching coming-out literature the therapist has given him. He explains that his therapist has tried, unsuccessfully, to help him come out as a gay or bisexual man. But even though he's had sex with other men or gone to gay male Internet porn sites, he insists he isn't gay. He says he isn't homophobic, either; if it turns out that he is gay or bisexual, he'll accept it and move on with his life--but it just doesn't feel right to him.

Historically, psychotherapy assumed homosexuality was a psychological disorder. Therapists focused on helping clients "recover" and find their innate heterosexuality, much to the harm of many gays and lesbians. During the last three decades, in reaction to these prejudiced and destructive attitudes, we've seen the pendulum swing so far the other way that it's now become almost a therapeutic credo, not to mention a requirement of political correctness, to assume that men who have sex with men are "in denial," and that the clinician's job was to help them recognize and accept their "true" homosexual orientation. In fact, neither extreme represents the experience of many men.

The truth is that many men who have sex with men aren't gay or bisexual. Although their confused mental and emotional state resembles that of the initial stages of coming out, gay men go on to develop a gay identity, whereas these men don't.

Therapists who treat such men need to realize that just because a client is sexual with the same gender doesn't necessarily reflect his sexual or romantic orientation. While we may believe we've accurately assessed whether a client is gay, it isn't up to us as therapists to make this judgment. Countertransference, cultural stereotypes, and personal feelings too often enter the therapy room and complicate our work--particularly with these clients. Therapists need to help such clients discover for themselves whether they're acting out a gay or bisexual identity by asking the right questions and by agreeing on a shared vocabulary.

Understanding Straight Men Who Have Sex with Men

There's growing evidence that many men who have sex with men aren't all gay or bisexual. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3 million men who self-identify as straight secretly have sex with other men--putting their wives or girlfriends at risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Case Studies, Gay Guise: What Do to When Your Client Has Sex with Men, but Is Straight
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?