Dear Bearded Confidant,

I went to church and started feeling guilty about myself. I met a girl there and thought she would be my salvation and I would repent and be hetero. After quite some time I couldn't suppress my desire for men and male-to-male body contact any longer. I know now that I've been fooling myself and cheating her. Although we never got married, we did get engaged. I am on the D.L. and coming out isn't an option. I broke off the engagement, but she still wants to date me and spend my free time with me. She is a very sweet Christian woman and she's emotionally sensitive. It's been 5 years now and I want my life back. How can I do this without crushing her. I don't want to continue hurting her.

Dear Mack,

Alas, you're experiencing one of the terrible, devastating drawbacks of living on the down low.  Are you familiar with the expression, "You've made your bed, now lie in it"?  For guys on the down low, the expression transforms into, "You've made your bed, now lie about it."  If coming out is truly not an option, then you must reconcile yourself to living a lie.  The truth is that coming out is always an option, but closeted guys don't always like facing the consequences of coming out.  In other words, you're more comfortable with misleading a woman for five years than you are with being true to your nature.  I'm not here to judge you on that—I'm merely stating the obvious.  Coming out does indeed carry risks, just as being closeted does.  You're enduring the dark side of the closet—constantly lying to good people, feeling guilty, not being in control of your own life.  I honestly don't envy your position.  I've lived an openly gay life for 15 years and counting, so I'm really the last person to ask about living a lie.  But I do have a suggestion.  The last time you felt really guilty, you looked for salvation in a church.  This time, why not seek the help of a different group of people.  Look online for a gay men's support group that meets in your area.  There you'll find plenty of compassion and perhaps some confidence for taking the next step in your life.