The Brit who “decided to stop being gay”

Timothy Kincaid

January 19th, 2010

The Times Online has an article titled The day I decided to stop being gay, a first-person narrative by Patrick Muirhead.

And though these sorts of pieces fuel the myth that orientation is something that is mutable, this really only contains the same wistful, hope-filled, ‘someday out there’ claims of the newly ex-gay. Although Muirhead doesn’t couch his article in religious terms, it’s all so drearily familiar.

1. Patrick has always had a level of, for want of a better term, self-loathing.

I was never convinced of my sexuality. True, I never liked football or fighting and I do make a beautifully light Victoria sponge when the need arises. But I shamble like a bloke, I burp and fart without shame and I\’ve never really got Barbra Streisand. There was a little voice, lost long ago in the drowning din of my homosexuality, that still called quietly; the smothered, smaller voice of a boy who liked girls.

2. Patrick viewed his sexuality through the lens of sex. And now he discovers that sex for the sake of sex has little meaning.

But two decades of cavorting with my own sex has delivered little that is memorable, except one super-sized sexless friendship with the aforementioned ex-boyf, with whom I spent a decade of my life; numerous hours of internet dating; a dizzying number of casual couplings and a few trips to genitourinary medicine clinics.

3. Patrick doesn’t desire to be straight as much as he wants to be what he fantasizes to be normal.

I want a wife to love and a child to protect. And I want to look at them both and know that they are mine and I am needed by both and I can be … the rock of the family.

4. Patrick isn’t content just to go straight. He has to justify his decision and build motivation around defining straight as better than gay.

I wince when gays describe boyfriends as “husbands”, subverting a solemn institution created to provide stability for child-rearing. Besides, it seems highly perverse that gays should fight for freedom from the bonds of heterosexual morality and then set to copying their oppressors by creating similar contracts of their own.

4. Patrick discovers that girls are not freakish beings or the cartoon characters he seems to have thought they were.

But for the first time in my life, I\’ve been getting to know girls. It\’s been a blast. As a teacher, I find them naturally adept at flying helicopters. They listen and they are good at multi-tasking. They are fun to be around and sometimes they\’re pretty.

5. But, like so many “former homosexuals” Patrick is finding the actual dating part to be very theoretical and very much future tense.

And then, two summers ago, I met Olga. She was a knockout-looking Ukrainian, washed ashore as a waitress in a breakfast bar in Ocean City, Maryland, on the East Coast of America. … Nothing happened, though — I wanted more than a passport-hunter and children whose presence would send Geiger counters into a frenzy.

I had a girlfriend once, 24 years ago, when I was in my late teens. … What I\’m saying is, I\’m ready for another go.

With the right kind of understanding girl, who loves me and possesses pragmatism and patience, I can picture myself as a good husband and dad.

I have been flirting with someone at my local pub, thinking about her at odd times, making excuses to call her and wondering if she likes me. It\’s rather strange.

I’ll give him credit for not pretending that he no longer is same-sex attracted. Nor does he claim that he’ll be able to resist the temptations of his natural inclinations.

However, I pity that he really sees women as a means to get the sense of normality that he wants, the picture of man and wife and child, and not the marriage of two equals. But perhaps this attitude sheds light on why his relationship ended and he has tired of being gay.


When I wrote this commentary, there was an additional line which I pulled before publishing. After discussing Patrick’s hopes for a wife, right out there somewhere just beyond the horizon, I said:

It reminds me a bit of Randy Thomas.

But I thought that was a bit too unkind so I pulled the comment.

However, it seems that Randy Thomas saw quite a bit of himself in Patrick Muirhead. He see’s Muirhead’s article as “more evidence of a post-gay reality”, just like his own.

Yes, no doubt Patrick’s reality is about as post-gay as Randy’s. Hopeful, wishful, still same-sex attracted, self-righteous, and very very celibate.


January 19th, 2010

He just seems totally mistaken about sexuality and love in general.. I mean his stereotypes are stupid and not helping him..

True, I never liked football or fighting and I do make a beautifully light Victoria sponge when the need arises. But I shamble like a bloke, I burp and fart without shame and I’ve never really got Barbra Streisand.

I love football (soccer). Can’t bake. Hate Barbara Streisand. The hell does that have to do with anything?

Ex-gays just don’t get it. They don’t understand others and they don’t understand themselves. Maybe they aren’t gay, but they’re going about figuring these things out in a totally idiotic fashion.


January 19th, 2010

I burp and fart all the time, and I’ve never been a big fan Streisand, either… but I LOVES me some penis!

“I wince when gays describe boyfriends as ‘husbands'”

Ya know, after 4 years, a joint checking account, and being on his insurance, “boyfriend” is an idiotic term for me and my guy, and I DETEST “partner”!

Woodward and Bernstein were partners!
Barnum & Bailey were partners!


January 19th, 2010

A word of advice for the novice:

“Never marry — let alone have children with — a man who is dizzier than his own helicopter.”

Of course he has the right to decide his own path in life. He’s welcome to take up any opportunity he cares too.

But, then again, he also has the right to flap his arms and migrate to Florida for the winter should he so wish.

Filed under ‘Dreamers’.


January 19th, 2010

I could be mistaken, but I think those stereotypes are the probably the main motivation for those who want to ‘quit being gay’ (actually, religious motivation probably comes first). It’s those stereotypes that cause kids to be bullied, teens to be rejected… I often hear, “that’s so gay!” …not in reference to same-sex attraction and sexual activity… but silly things like hair, clothes, posture, body language etc.

That’s what stereotypes do – they bunch a ton of unrelated things together. This guy is probably seeking relief from those “gay stereotypes” more than he is seeking to stop being attracted to members of the same sex… just my opinion. Very often, the word “gay” is used as a pop version of “homosexual”… “gay” being loaded with pop stereotypes – both negative and positive, and homosexual being loaded with scientific definitions and statistics and research findings. Why cant people just exist without any such labels… I dont match most of the gay stereotypes described here (and elsewhere) and would probably be an outlier in many homosexual research projects, but my existence is no less than those who match gay stereotypes and support homosexual research hypotheses. Is all this because people really want to create and/or belong to a group identity of some sort? How much of our identity is our own and how much of it is based on socially constructed ‘imports’? Does it really matter? Why should it matter?


January 19th, 2010

This paragraph grabbed me:

Loving your own sex occurs in nature, without artificial triggers. But it is still not average behaviour. Homosexuality is an aberration; a natural aberration. Gays are a minority and minorities, though sometimes vocal, do not hold sway.

This is the voice of a white male who understands, if subconsciously, that he owns white male privilege, but that his white male privilege is compromised a bit by also being gay. And he’s concerned about losing even a sliver of the privilege he believes is his right.

Randy Thomas marks the article as evidence of something new, that the “false dichotomy of people only being gay or straight is wearing thin and I believe will be eventually discarded altogether.”

But, Thomas is responding more to pop culture about what it is to be gay than thoughtful, real voices.

Thoughtful LGBT folks have long recognized the way pop culture, even/especially lesbians and gays, gives bisexuals folks little credit, as noted recently by D Gregory Smith at Bilerico.

Anybody who has spent time in queer communities has met people whose perceptions of their own orientation included ambivalence, or shifted in some fashion over time.

Joe Kort has posted great descriptions of MSM (men who have sex with men) who are not gay.

It’s convenient, but lazy, for both Patrick and Randy Thomas to claim they are on the leading edge of something new or innovative.

The thing they have in common is willingness to wear their past shame on their sleeve, and to cast their former peers as shallow, hedonistic, and narcissistic.

For Patrick, though, I suspect that therapy — not public revival-tent-style confession and running from shame — is the optimal path to good health and self-awareness.

Timothy Kincaid

January 20th, 2010


thanks for the Randy Thomas link. It was quite ironic, as the UPDATE tells.

R Holmes

January 20th, 2010

I’m sorry, but it seems to me that this guy was bisexual to start with and bought into a whole bunch of stereotypes about gay men which made him decide to suppress his homosexual side.

How is ANY of this news? Or evidence that gay people can turn straight?


January 20th, 2010

I wish him the best and I am sure he will find a woman to spend the rest of his life with and he will be a great father!


January 20th, 2010

Thanks Steve — at times like this I almost manage to summon up a moment of sympathy for Randy The Ex. Pty Ltd (c).

An Always-Gay staring down with hunger at the Never-Gay. Or at the Still-Gay hoping, beyond all hope, to be one of The Blessed. Perched on his dry and twisted branch.

But then I remember vultures also adopt the same posture over the weak and the dead, and my sympathy vanishes.


January 20th, 2010

How very odd. One of the two most homophobic people I’ve ever known personally was a man also named “Patrick” (the other was a woman named Gwenn).


January 20th, 2010

Times Online, or someone (hint) ought to find and interview Patrick’s ex.

After all, when some het ‘goes gay’, the press always tracks down the het ex, to be ‘fair and balanced’.


January 20th, 2010

Tim, don’t forget to mention how TERRIBLY BITTER both of these men are toward gay people who make life choices and decisions about their behavior that result in fulfilling, happy, healthy lives without blaming their sexuality for their failures, disappointments and unhappiness which in truth resulted from their poor life choices that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the sexual orientation.

So this man CAN have a monogamous relationship with a woman to which he’s not sexually attracted while still being exclusively (or mainly) attracted to men because he will have WILL POWER, yet he couldn’t do the same with a man to which he was sexually and emotionally attracted to? And it’s hes SEXUAL ORIENTATION that’s to blame?

Like virually every so-called “ex-gay” I’ve ever met, all I see is shame and delusion.


January 20th, 2010

Wow, please forgive the grammar, typos and run on sentences in that post. I embarrassed to have my name attached to it.

Hopefully the point was made regardless.

Ben in Oakland

January 20th, 2010

Zeke– run ons and all, I think you nailed it.

My life is defective, therefore i must be defective. What does the world say is my defect? Oh, yes, I’m gay. that must be it. i’ll just fix that.

Telephone call for Mr. Bitter and Mr. Pity, party of 1!!!!


January 20th, 2010

Well, I did it again. Make that “I’m”…anyway…

One more thing. It’s been my observation that gay people who are unhappy with themselves and their lives should seriously consider, in addition to getting professional help, CHANGING THEIR FRIENDS. It never seems to fail that people who want to “leave the gay lifestyle” are always people who live a lifestyle that is completely foreign to me. They are up to their eyeballs in drugs, sex addiction (and all that comes with that) and every other thing that they CLAIM to hate. They claim that they want to get closer to G-d yet never darken the door of a church/temple/synagogue/mosque until after they do the “ex-gay” thing. They claim that NO ONE in the gay community is happy or healthy or satisfied yet NEVER try to seek out happy, healthy, satisfied people, become friends with them and emulate what they are doing so that they can find the same happiness and satisfaction.

It’s absolutely true what they say about dogs and fleas and birds and feathers.

If you don’t like who you are, look at who you hang out with. If you want to change who you are, you FIRST better change who you hang out with. A person can no more live a happy healthy life hanging out with unhappy, unhealthy people than a drug addict can beat an addiction living in a crack house.

I speak from experience as a happy, healthy, satisfied gay man who didn’t used to be. It was no one’s and NO THING’S fault but my own that I was unhappy, unhealthy and unsatisfied in life. Once I realized this, I reevaluated myself and looked around at the dogs I was lying with and the feathers I was flying with and had an epiphany. This rest was comparatively easy. Converting to Buddhism also helped a lot.

OK. I quickly proof read this one. Hopefully it isn’t such a mess.


January 20th, 2010

I can see that he is deeply attracted the idea of heterosexuality, but there really doesn’t seem to be any sense in the article that he is actually attracted to women.

I also find his sort of recent discovery that women have positive attributes indicative that he probably has poor interpersonal skills and doesn’t take much time to get to know the (real) people who surround him every day.

Another sad story, from a sad person, who if successful, is going to make another person sad for going along with the whole charade.


January 20th, 2010

Amazingly, he says he came to all of these rather dramatic conclusions about himself and the rest of his life within the last week. I guess he had an extra day or two at the end of the week to write it all up for the Times. He also says that he “hopes” he can be faithful to his future wife. Yeah, this is going to work out just great.

The one point he makes that is valid IMO, is that the gay male subculture created over the past 40 years has been a failure on many levels. It is shallow, impersonal, loveless and predatory. It is the subculture and its ugliness that is driving him to these desperate and likely catastrophic efforts to marry. The gays who thrive are often the ones who separate themselves from the subculture or carve out small niches within it.

Eric in Oakland

January 20th, 2010

I found this comment to be very telling:

“Besides, it seems highly perverse that gays should fight for freedom from the bonds of heterosexual morality and then set to copying their oppressors by creating similar contracts of their own.”

What is “heterosexual morality” and why does he suppose that gays are fighting to be free of it? The implication that gays are less moral than straights or that any morality is somehow uniquely heterosexual is insulting and bigoted.

Also, he refers to gay marriage as “copying their oppressors by creating similar contracts”. That makes very little sense to me. Most people that I know do not want “similar contracts” they want the SAME contracts. Institution of “similar contracts” is usually the result of people who do not want gays to have full marriage equality.

Ben in Oakland

January 20th, 2010

The one point he makes that is valid IMO, is that the gay male subculture created over the past 40 years has been a failure on many levels.”

I more or less both agree and disagree with you on this, dan. I’ve been out for nearly 40 years, so I may have some authority here. I’ve seen the legacy of centuries of oppression create what many people think of as the gay male subculture– something centered on youth, dick, and partying. It’s not surprising that it arose– both oppression and the cultural definition of what it means to be gay pretty much ensured that.

I often partook of all of that, recognizing its value for eliminating shame and fear. Sex is just great for that, and you’ll never hear me arguing against being in the arms of a cute boy. Not that I have done that in a while– you see, i’m a married man, and my husband is nearly 50.

And right along side that was a very strong movement to define ourselves as human beings, not just dicks with legs. The marriage battles are just the latest in the long series of sorties carried out by that movement. And i think it has been very successful. Oppression has lessened both as cause and effect.

Having said all of that, although man of my friends are gay, and certainly my closest ones are, at our wedding last September, i think the majority of those present were straight, not gay.
We’re integrated as thoroughly as we can be, and it’s what we want. I haven’t been inside a bar or bathouse in years, and though I still occasionally get the eye and the come-on from young men and older gentleman both, I don’t really care about it.

Though Zeke said it much better, i think what I said applies here:

My life is defective, therefore i must be defective. What does the world say is my defect? Oh, yes, I’m gay. that must be it. i’ll just fix that.

Telephone call for Mr. Bitter and Mr. Pity, party of 1!!!!

Ben in Oakland

January 20th, 2010

Very good point, Eric. It makes me wonder whether this guy is everything he appears to be.

A mole? A troll? A stealth bomber? Timothy’s comment about it sounding suspiciously like randy Thomas has a certain je-ne-sais quoi about it.


January 20th, 2010


Thanks for sharing that, and congratulations on your marriage.

I don’t doubt that societal homophobia played a role in the development of the subculture, as did basic human hedonism. Gay liberationists might have responded to oppression by developing a subculture that exalted love and commitment, possibly drawing on Greek, Roman, or Japanese history. Instead, we got, by popular consent, a sex- and youth-focused culture that is guaranteed to disappoint anyone who remains in it. The old and average looking are denigrated. And those who possess the most desirable characteristics must know at some level that their popularity is based on a superficial and ever-depreciating asset. So we have set up a culture that is guaranteed to increasingly fail most who remains within it. Completely illogical.

IMO, the only way to thrive is either to change it fundamentally or to just get out, or both. Changing it will take decades. “Getting out” means carving out your own niche that reflects meaningful values, which it seems is what you have done. Unfortunately, some poor souls like this guy from the UK understand instinctively that they need to do something, but they erroneously and catastrophically conclude that they need to get out of their sexual orientation, not the subculture.


January 20th, 2010

Mr Muirhead’s problem is his fascination with men of straw. He loves his problems and the attention they bring him. I don’t see them disappearing anytime soon.

R Holmes

January 21st, 2010


You make some excellent points. However, I don’t think the youth-and-beauty obsession is limited to the gay male subculture. It’s part of a society-wide culture that values superficial attractiveness to beauty of character. I guess it may be exacerbated in male gay subculture, but – at the risk of opening myself to charges of sexism, and almost certainly of generalisation – perhaps this is down to the nature of the male sex drive. Youth and beauty are valued in lesbian subculture, but not, I think, to the same degree. This may partly be to do with the nature of the female sex drive, and partly to do with the fact that lesbianism history has intertwined with feminist history in rejecting male-imposed expectations of desirability.

I’m speculating here. Feel free to teat me apart!

Changing sosicety’s worship of the superficial would, in my opinion, be a noble endeavour, but I’m not sur ehow you start. Other than by not buying into those values yourself.

R Holmes

January 21st, 2010

Interesting typos in that last message of mine. Feel free to tear me apart: my teats are my own!


January 21st, 2010

But two decades of cavorting with my own sex has delivered little that is memorable, except one super-sized sexless friendship with the aforementioned ex-boyf…

I think it’s very telling that the only thing he can say about his friendship with his ex-boyfriend is that it’s “sexless.” I think that if any of my friends every described our friendship as “sexless,” I’d immediately question just how much of a friend they really were.


January 21st, 2010

Also, I’m skeptical of anyone who make “children” their ideal life-goal. Children grow up, become adults, and move on to have lives of their own. And more than one parent has found it a struggle to figure out how to define themselves or what to do with their lives once all the little baby birds have flown the nest. And figuring out what one’s marriage means after that point can be equally difficult if it’s always been about the kids.


January 21st, 2010

R. Holmes:

No need to tear you apart. : -) You make good points. I don’t doubt that looks and youth matter in mainstream pop culture. The difference though is that it does not dominate over every other value. If you want to get away from the straight club scene and instead meet a nice girl at work, church or school, it would not be an unusual event and the pairing would not always be based on the physical. Until recently, this would be unusual for a gay man.

The other key difference is that society has built a pathway for a straight man to follow as he ages and loses his looks. His role changes. He becomes respected by women not for being a stud, but for being reliable, stable and parent material. Even later in life, he derives worth from his role as a grandfather or respected elder in the family. Take that same man and stick him in the gay subculture and he is instantly reduced to a “troll.”

BTW, I don’t say this as an older person with personal gripes. By the shallow values of the subculture, I am a valued commodity at this moment in my life. Nevertheless, I think the subculture fails and dehumanizes almost everyone – from the young “twink” to the old “troll” and everyone in between. For gays to really live, the gay subculture should die.

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2010

This is WAY off topic.

But based on my own personal experiences, I don’t think that the old meme that “homosexuality is a culture of youth and beauty” actually holds up to examination.

If you are not particularly attractive but are out looking to score with hot young things every night then, yeah, you’re a troll. And you’re going to be disappointed. And be upset that it often takes youth and beauty to hook up with the beautiful young.

But if you’re looking for friends or a long-term relationship with a compatible person then you can find that whether or not you are young or beautiful. If you’re pleasant and clean and try to dress neatly and are not behaving with drunken or otherwise inappropriate behavior, you will be accepted without much emphasis on whether you are young or beautiful.

And that is in West Hollywood.

I have a homework assignment for those who doubt this :-) hunt up newspaper articles of folks getting married. Look at the pictures. (And I would imagine that there are a number of readers here who are married or in a relationship who will never be asked to model for Abercrombie and Fitch)

After that, look for the web sites of gay ski groups and bowlers and hikers. Look at the pics posted of friends enjoying a shared passtime. Youth? Beauty? Sometimes, but also those who are “young at heart” and “beautiful on the inside”.

Love and friendship doesn’t require external physical beauty. It requires that you be a decent person who respects themselves and others.


January 21st, 2010

I think that part of the problem there is that a lot of people are either unaware that such things as gay bowling leagues and gay hiking groups exist or aren’t sure how to find them. I think a lot of people honestly believe that gay bars are the only social outlet we have.

Of course, I’m personally not one to knock the gay bars. For one thing, I have a lot of fun at the nightclub here in Rochester. I like to dance. Sure, some of the younger guys look at me and wonder what I’m doing there. But I’m not there for them. I’m there to dance. And I’ll note that some young guys even occasionally come dance with me. Because we’re there to have fun. It’s not about finding our next boyfriend or that night’s fling even.

Ben in Oakland

January 21st, 2010

Absolutely, Timothy and Jarred.

I also think the youth-and-beauty thing is given far more power than it actually has. Back in my single days before Paul and i made it permanent in 2003, I still had cute boys chasing after me in my early fifties. The problem was not finding cute boys, because it is easy to give them what they want, and i had no objection to doing so. The problem was finding grown men in their 40’s and 50’s who kept themselves in decent shape (I weigh 175, 10 pounds more than I did in college) and who not only wanted a relationship (so many think they do, but don’t really) and had what it takes to be in one. That’s a totally different problem. A lot of guys in the bars have read far too many romance fiction and seen far too many romance movies (or attended far to many operas, as the case may be), and then complain that real life is so different.

They just never grew up and never paid any attention.

In the six years between the death of the love of my life (up til then) and when I met Paul, I slept with a number of men, dated far fewer, and had a serious relationship with only two. Even at almost 60, I still have men who are far too young for me coming on to me. Lucky for them I’m married.

Back to Mr. Muirhead– with a scottish accent, that’s actually a pretty funny and ironic name– I will repeat, he is blaming his failures as a gay man on the failures of the gay world, rather on his failures to be a grownup, which is really the problem. If one wants to succeed in the gay world by the standards which he seems to have set for himself, he should understand that he would have far more success if he were rich, just like in the straight world. John mcCain didn’t get Cindy becuase he’s a war hero AND hot as James franco.

After all, there really is no difference between the two.

R Holmes

January 22nd, 2010

Interesting comments from you all. Sorry to remain off-topic. Strangely, I had overlooked the fact that perhaps the most visible aspect of gay subculture is club culture*, which is hardly going to be the place where people express the deepest aspects of themselves. If straights were judged by what happens in clubs and bars… Hmmm!

I say “strangely” because it’s something that I often mention in discussions about why it can be difficult to meet same sex partners.

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