A girl you know is getting married. The engraved invitations have been sent, the Vera Wang dress fitted to a T, and the two families have been prepared for the inevitable merge. This would usually be a joyous occasion, but something is a little queer. Namely, the husband-to-be.

Sound familiar?

It seems like everyone has seen the situation, whether from the bride’s side of the church, or the groom’s, who by most accounts is either in denial or full of disheartening shame. The phenomenon was just recently introduced to suspicious housewives everywhere by the Church of Oprah, but Charleston has always had a disproportionate number of these arrangements.

As much as I like to tell myself that this city is progressive, socially evolved, and accepting of other lifestyles, the simple truth is that it’s not. It still falls under the umbrella of the stereotypical “South.” You would hope there’d be a natural progression of new ideas and less concern over other people’s choices.

In the Holy City, there is a lot of old family pride, moreso than any other Southern town I’ve experienced. They have their own pews in the local churches, downtown streets named after them, and large family homes south of Broad. Perhaps men from families like these, with very traditional ideas of family and marriage, feel safer denying and repressing their secret attractions to those sharing the XY chromosomes. Perhaps they believe if they can “fake it, they’ll make it,” as my therapist likes to say. If you pretend you’re a good heterosexual husband, then those cursed pangs of homosexual desire will fade away.

The reason I bring this up is to help understand the mindset of a man who not only appears to be closeted but also goes to great lengths to hide his true nature by finding a naive wife (a.k.a. beard) who will most likely have her heart broken in the end.

Being a straight female, I’ve never had to challenge societal norms when it comes to my personal sexual preference, but luckily I grew up with a set of extremely supportive parents whose only concern for me in life is my happiness. I can’t imagine not only denying your true identity but also bringing someone else into the lie that you’ve chosen to lead. And yes, Mary, it’s a choice — not your sexual preference, but the closet you’re living in. I’m sure you’re afraid of rejection, but news flash — we all are. You’ll never find peace until you come to terms with who you are. Unfortunately, when 78 percent of South Carolinians think it’s their business to dictate the definition of a family, according to Amendment One in the last election, it sadly seems that we will collectively continue to live in a state of denial.