I met “Jose” and “Ben” at the Fireplace bar down in Washington, D.C.
It was the long Presidents’ Day Weekend, my partner “Van” was in Florida, and a buddy bored with Baltimore bars dragged me down with him to D.C. for a change of scenery.
The Fireplace is notorious for its strong drinks and I was pretty tipsy when I met Jose and Ben, a couple from Philadelphia who were visiting D.C. with a group of friends.
Jose was originally from Venezuela while Ben is a brown-skinned black man from Philadelphia. They were so handsome and looked so well matched — like a pair of gloves — that it just lifted my heart to see them. And they complimented me on looking so good for my age, which didn’t hurt.
We exchanged numbers and I friended them on Facebook. And we promised to get together next time they came down. I mean, we hit it off just that well.
So it surprised me a few weeks later when Jose updated his status to say he married and posted photos of himself and beautiful, diminutive young Latino lady at a reception cutting a wedding cake. I congratulated him on his wedding on his Facebook post but I privately messaged him to get the real story.
It turns out Jose’s family is very conservative and homophobic and he is not out to them. So he married a woman as a cover. And the woman benefited too — she is here illegally and married Jose to gain legal residency.
“Does your wife know you are gay?”
“No,” Jose said. “A matter of fact Bennie was the best man at my wedding. Go back to my Facebook page and see — I posted more pictures.”
And I did go look and sure enough there they were, pictures of the two of them posing with the bride. Or just posing together. A matter of fact they looked more into each other than Jose was into his bride, although that could have been just my mind playing tricks because I knew they were lovers.
“You two are still fucking,” I asked.
“Yep,” Jose answered. “And I’m fucking her too.”
“Wow, okay, I’m not judging.”
But this made me think.
Jose and Ben are in their mid 20’s. It is legal for people of the same gender to marry now. Gay rights have progressed by leaps and bounds in the past 20 years. So it surprised me that young people were still living the married, down-low life that many men my age are still doing.
I guess I’m just naive to think that things like being married to a woman to cover your sexuality had gone out of style by 2017.