It’s a lovely autumn afternoon in Cape Town when four women get together at a poolside for the monthly meeting of their unique club. They’re relaxing on recliners but the conversation is serious and resentful.
All four are divorced – they have 10 kids between them – and call themselves the Gay Wives’ Club. They get together to rant against gay men who marry and have children only to leave their families years later. They know what they’re talking about – this happened to them.
The idea for their club was sparked by a recent article in our sister magazine, Huisgenoot, about the book Soeker, authored by TV producer Pieter Cilliers, who is gay and a former clergyman.
In it he referred to the “hundreds of heartrending letters” he’d received from gay dads who, like him, had come out of the closet.
“Ag shame!” 54-year-old Marie* says, her eyes narrowing. “Did someone hold a gun to their heads and force them to marry in the first place?
“My daughter can’t understand how her father could change like that,” adds Susan* (49), an advocate.
“First the tight-fitting clothes then suddenly he was going to gym all the time and got a tattoo on his arm. Strange new friends started arriving at our home.”
Lydia* (51) is just as angry. “How do you think my son felt when friends started asking him, ‘Is your dad batting for the other side?’ ”
It’s isn’t always obvious. Marie says she didn’t suspect anything for years. “Actually I didn’t want to,” she admits about her ex-husband, Jacob*.
“Denial is like being anaesthetised. Just as you can’t wake yourself up during an operation, you can’t talk yourself out of a state of denial.”
The moment he told her the truth – a year ago – her denial turned into anger. Marie says she’s still coming to grips with her resentment a year later. Everyone tends to feel sorry for the men who come out but it’s their families who pay a physical, emotional and spiritual price, she says.
“I don’t feel sorry for him and those like him. They destroy other people’s lives with their selfish choices.” And she has a warning for other women who might be in the same situation: “Where there’s smoke there is usually a bonfire.”
* Not their real names. Read the full article in YOU, 5 May 2011.