The McGreevey Effect: Is Your Husband Gay?

It sounds like the typical American family.

George, a 49-year-old market researcher, has been married for 28 years. He and his wife are proud of their two daughters.

But his wife doesn't know that he's gay.

Although he told his wife before their marriage that he was sometimes attracted to men, he never acted on those feelings until five years ago. And though he's had occasional flings since then, he has no plans to tell his wife about his secret life or to end his marriage.

"I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I couldn't do that to her," said George, who didn't want his real name used, in an interview with about his predicament and his marriage. "I was trying to lead this double life and unfortunately, I'm pretty successful at it. I don't think my wife or kids suspected it."

So far, George has done a better job at hiding his sexuality than former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.

McGreevey's wife, Dina, knew about her husband's preference for men even before they tied the knot in 2000, he says.

"[Dina] knew of my sexual orientation before our marriage [and] chose either to ignore it or block it out of her mind, even when questioned by friends," according to legal papers filed by his lawyers.

Years before McGreevey's infamous "I am a gay American speech" in 2004, in which he publicly announced his homosexuality, Dina knew about his orientation, he says.

In the summer of 2002, when she caught him on the phone talking to his aide Golan Cipel, she asked him, "Are you gay?" according to McGreevey's memoir, "The Confession."

McGreevey's divorce has gotten increasingly bitter. Monday, he shot back at Dina over her allegation that he and his gay partner were exposing Jacqueline, the ex-couple's 5-year-old daughter, to erotic art. "She may not disdain [sic] all gay men, but she disdains this one," he said.

Gays married to straight spouses -- such as George and McGreevey -- are not an isolated phenomena.

Along with other high-profile examples such as evangelist leader Ted Haggard and former Congressman Mike Huffington, there are an estimated 2 million to 4 million gay people who are or have been married to straight spouses.

"It's a larger number than people suspect," said Bonnie Kaye, the author of "Is He Gay? A Checklist of Women Who Wonder."

Kaye says that she has counseled more than 30,000 women who've been married to gay men. "It's been this way forever. The numbers have stayed the same even as the country's attitudes about homosexuality have changed."

And why do so many gay men and women get married? "Because people don't want to be gay," Kaye said. "It's a very hard way to live. Guys who get married are hoping that if they love their wife enough, that love will change their sexuality."

Like George, about half of married gay men will never tell the truth and will stay in the marriage, according to Kaye. Those who will never admit to themselves that they're gay are termed "straight gay men." Before McGreevey's public confession, that description applied to him.

"Even if McGreevey didn't want to identify as a gay man [during his marriage], look at how much sex he was having outside of his marriage?" Kaye said.

In his memoir, McGreevey describes in detail his sexual relationship with Cipel, whom he first met in 2000, while married to Dina.

The obvious question: Can't you tell that your spouse is gay?

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