Same Sex Marriage

From a Straight Spouse: Some People are Gay…Get Over It!

SPAGGOI_edited_1

When I learned that the shooter in the Orlando massacre showed signs of being a latent or closeted homosexual my heart dropped in my chest.  It somehow hurt even more to know that part of what drove him to murder 49 innocent people was his own deep-seated self-hatred. I do not pity the shooter.  I pity a culture that reinforces the notion that being gay is a shortcoming, weakness, defect, perversion or a sin.  I pity his hateful father who admonished homosexuality days after the massacre.  The same man who used to insult his son by calling him gay and taught him to hate himself.   I pity him because he’s a pathetic excuse for a human being who will only be remembered for raising someone capable of such a horrific act.  My deepest sympathies go to the friends and families of the fallen, and every LGTB person who will feel less safe as a result of such an attack.

Despite the outpouring of support from people all over the country, I knew there would be a backlash.  It wasn’t enough that worst shooting in US history targeted the LGTB community, the critics of homosexuality had to get their digs in before the bodies were cold..  The first blow came in the form of a tweet by Dan Patrick the fiercely anti-LGTB Lt. Governor of Texas just two hours after the shooting.

Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.

He claimed the bible verse was randomly selected beforehand but he also posted it on his Facebook account three hours later even after numerous complaints on his twitter feed.

Then there was the video of a fringe Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez

‘What if you asked me, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” Um, no, I think that’s great,’ he told his followers, some of whom laughed. ‘I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job

Twitter was ablaze with homophobic rants and rhetoric.  ThoughtCatalog compiled a list of the worst.

One simply stated

At least it was gays this time and not innocent people

The blood of the victims was probably still fresh on the ground when these comments were made.  I get worked up about this topic because my life has been negatively affected by homophobia.  My ex-husband was a self-loathing closeted gay man who thought he could change himself.  I was unaware of his struggle with his sexual orientation and became collateral damage in his war with himself.   Instead of living his life authentically and honestly, he lived a miserable existence in hiding.  If he felt he could have lived his life happily and fulfilled as a gay man,  we both would have been much better off.  There are millions of other straight spouses like myself, and children who have been through the emotionally wrenching experience of a mixed orientation marriage. The hatred of LGTB people extends much further out than just the LGTB community.  It hurts their families, friends, and our culture as a whole.  Although LGTB men and women have made great strides in recent years, incidents like the massacre in Orlando prove we have a long way to go before true acceptance is possible.

I am not sure if I’ll reach anyone in my intended audience with this article, but I’m just so sick of the hate.  No one wins when LGTB men and women are shamed, labeled as sinners or treated like second-hand citizens. Homophobes use all sorts of reasoning to justify their hate, so I’ve compiled the most common ones here and intend to challenge all of them.

Homosexulaity and sin – Everyone has a right to their own religious views, but we live in a country with a multitude of faiths and belief systems..  I won’t break down every religion, religious text or reasoning for the condemnations of homosexuality.  That wouldn’t just be a blog article, it could fill several volumes.  In a secular nation, one person’s religion does not trump another person’s civil rights.   I don’t know how love can be sinful, and I know many loving LGTB couples.  Many of them are also devoted parents.  I’m agnostic myself, but it’s hard to imagine how any loving God would be against a healthy, happy, loving relationships between two consenting adults.

Gay people cannot be changed or converted through therapy.  – I could write several hundred pages on this, but instead I’ll just provide this handy link and quote about the widely derided conversion therapy.

To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

Being gay is not a sickness or a mental illness – The medical community hasn’t believed that since 1973.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

Openly gay people are not a sign of the collapse of society  – LGTB men and women have been around since the dawn of humanity and have always been a part of the spectrum of human sexuality.  LGTB people have existed even in places where the punishment for homosexual behavior was death.   In some Native American tribes homosexuality and gender fluidity was not only tolerated, it was revered.   To quote http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/

It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the caregivers They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies

Homosexuality is not unnatural. –  A common argument is that since homosexual sex does not lead to procreation then it must be against the laws of nature.  Homosexuality is also expressed in over 450 different animal species on this planet.  Obviously humans aren’t the only species that has non-reproductive sex.

HIV is not a plague sent to wipe out gay men  – Sexually transmitted diseases are not limited to the LGTB community. Although HIV rates are higher among gay men than the general population, anyone under the right circumstances can contract HIV.  HIV is also not the killer it once was, as most patients live long lives if they get early treatment.   Daily medications like PreP also can prevent the spread of the virus.   It’s also not the only potentially lethal STD. From the 15th century until the discovery of antibiotics Syphilis infections ravaged Europe.  Even today if left untreated Syphilis can cause disfigurement, brain damage, and eventually death.  HIV isn’t a plague to wipe out any specific group, it is simply another nasty sexually transmitted pathogen.

Gay men are pedophiles who abuse children and turn them gay –  Every time I hear this one I slightly lose my mind, so I’m going to write this in all caps!  THIS MYTH HAS BEEN WIDELY DISCREDITED MULTIPLE TIMES!  IN STUDY AFTER STUDY OVER THE COURSE OF DECADES RESEARCH DOES NOT LINK HOMOSEXAULITY TO PEDOPHILA!!!!!  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

According to the American Psychological Association, children are not more likely to be molested by LGBT parents or their LGBT friends or acquaintances. Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on prejudice against sexual minorities, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men.

 

The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute notes that 90% of child molesters target children in their network of family and friends, and the majority are men married to women. Most child molesters, therefore, are not gay people lingering outside schools waiting to snatch children from the playground, as much religious-right rhetoric suggests.

When children see a same-sex couple holding hands, kissing or locked in a loving embrace it won’t scar them or cause them to turn gay.  – If two adults are showing affection in a fairly conservative way – holding hands, walking arm in arm and kissing – it’s not going to harm anyone else around them.  A child is not going to suddenly think they are gay after observing two gay adults.  Sexual orientation is deeply rooted into a person’s psyche.  If you were to ask most LGTB people when they knew they were gay they would answer it’s something they’ve always known.  No event flipped the switch in their heads from straight to gay.  If anything young adults who come out sooner as LGTB are less likely to get married to a straight partner.  They are less likely to live a confused and tortured existence.   If a child who will ultimately grow up to be gay sees a loving same-sex couple together, they are more likely to grow up without self-hatred.

There is no “gay agenda” – I can’t even humor this one.  The only “agenda” LGTB people have is to live like anyone else.  They aren’t out to recruit the rest of the world or change anyone else’s sexual orientation.

Homophobia claims many victims –  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers. Studies have shown that 15 to 43 percent of LGTB people as well as 90 percent of transgender men and women have faced some sort of harassment or discrimination in the workforce.  In 28 states it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation.  Even in 2016 children are still rejected by their families for coming out.

LGTB men and women are not going to go back into hiding.  No amount of hateful rhetoric, bullets or bombs that will stop anyone from being gay.  We need to come out of the dark ages and accept people for who they are.  I want to grab the father of the shooter and every other homophobe by both shoulders, look them dead in the eyes and scream

The real sickness in our culture is not homosexuals but the hatred and bigotry expressed towards them!

All the hate in the world can’t stop love, and sexual orientation is much more than just sex.  LGTB men and women love their partners with the same intensity and devotion as any straight person would.   Some people are gay, and the haters should just get used to it.

My website www.julietjeske.com

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske

Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page

 

 

Grace & Frankie: Hollywood vs. Reality

imgres

As a straight spouse myself, I’m always interested in how the media depicts our situations.  In most cases I shake my head as I see cartoonish one-sided clichés.  Lately it’s been Christian couples who have vowed to pray away the “same-sex attraction” in a miserable and strained marriage.

So I was a bit nervous about the new Netflix comedy, Grace & Frankie.  The premise of the show involves a double divorce of two closeted men who have had a 20-year affair while married to women.  In the first episode the announce they are leaving their wives for a new life together and hilarity ensues.  Actually most of the humor comes from the unconventional friendship that develops between their two dissimilar wives – The hippie Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin and the former model turned beauty executive played by Jane Fonda.  I genuinely loved the show, the characters are three-dimensional and multi-layered, the acting is brilliant and both straight spouses are extremely funny and sympathetic.  As much as I liked it, I was somewhat frustrated by the sugar-coated Hollywood take on everything.

Since I write about being a straight spouse and have been very public about my story, I’ve encountered literally hundreds of other straight spouses.  I’ve read their stories on private Facebook groups, and listened to harrowing details in my local straight spouse support group. No two mixed orientation marriages are quite the same, and our experiences do fall in a spectrum of outcomes. However, certain patterns are quite common and we often remark that we feel like we married the same person.  There was so much good in Grace & Frankie but I feel the need to break down Hollywood fantasy vs. reality.

Hollywood – Both of the gay men find the courage to finally come out to their wives, and reveal their 20 year-long affair.

Reality – I’d say with full confidence that in probably 80-90% of mixed orientation marriages, the closeted spouse doesn’t disclose anything. Most of us find out the hard way after months or years of searching for evidence.  In some truly horrific cases, a spouse finds out the truth accidentally.

Hollywood – 20 years of infidelity are forgiven rather easily and the relationships remain close and intact

Reality – For most spouses, finding out your partner was having a secret affair with his or her best friend for the past 20 years would be devastating.  The pain and betrayal would cause so much damage, it would be quite difficult to repair any sort of relationship.  A person might question literally everything.  Which business trip was really a liaison?  Which emergency meeting at work was really a hook-up?  How many times did my spouse blatantly lie to my face?  Twenty years of lies and betrayal are hard to forgive regardless of the circumstances.

Hollywood – Both couples have quick and simple divorces and both gay husbands are greatly concerned for the emotional and financial welfare of their wives. 

Reality – How many couples have an “easy” divorce?  Most drag on for several months if not years. Some partners do everything they can to block and stall to delay the inevitable.  Just like any divorce, a straight spouse will endure multiple court cases, shady legal maneuvers, psych evaluations, hiding of assets and vicious custody battles.  Some spouses are completely abandoned when their partner come out.  As soon as they are open about their orientation they want to discard their old identity and life.  Divorces between mixed orientation couples are no different than the general population – many are brutal, long, inequitable and devastating.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands immediately openly declare their sexual orientation to anyone and everyone

Reality – If a person has lived a lie for a couple of decades, they rarely switch to immediately proclaiming the truth.  I’ve known straight spouses who have watched their exes marry a same-sex partner and STILL not label themselves gay, bisexual or even hetero-flexible. They simply insist they’re straight despite their new gay spouse.  It’s baffling but it’s incredibly common.  Some closeted partners are so self-loathing they retreat back into the closet and marry another straight partner.

Hollywood – Both couples are financially well off, and no one suffers economic ruin.

Reality – Most television shows center around wealthy people.  The trials of paying bills on time and making ends meet just isn’t compelling and set designers would rather feature beautiful sprawling homes than sad depressing ones.  Grace & Frankie is no different.  Of course most straight spouses suffer tremendous financial problems from foreclosure to bankruptcy just like any other divorced couple.

Hollywood – Even though both women are in their 70’s there is seemingly a limitless supply of available partners.  Both women have love interests almost immediately.

Reality – As much as loved Frankie & Grace – This is pure fantasy.  

Hollywood – Both husbands admit fault for cheating, lying and destroying their marriage.  

Realities – This one is probably the most egregious.  Although I do know some closeted men and women who do take full accountability for their actions, many more admit no fault whatsoever.  Excuses abound from

  • You knew I was gay the whole time
  • Everyone knew I was gay
  • My orientation had nothing to do with our divorce
  • You made me gay
  • If you were there for me I would have never turned to men/women
  • If you were just more understanding about my cheating we’d still be together
  • It was just sex, it meant nothing, I don’t know why you care so much
  • I’m not gay, I was never gay, I’m just working some things out

Very few people actually admit they have done anything wrong, in a mixed orientation marriage or otherwise.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands seem to have healthy psychological profiles and don’t have any personality disorders

Reality – Most of us learn through therapists that our exes are narcissists. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and have a tendency to blame everyone around them for whatever damage or chaos they’ve caused.  They lack empathy and view themselves as the ultimate victim.  Narcissists are often charming and charismatic but ultimately they are extremely difficult partners in a marriage. Of course our spouses do NOT represent the larger LGTB community as most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation but more to do with someone marrying another person under false pretense.  Of course not all closeted men and women who marry straight partners are narcissistic but it is such a common problem that I would be remiss not to mention it here.

There were some things the show got spot on.

Denial & Co-dependence 

One of the wives remains in a deep state of denial despite the obvious evidence.  She accepts her husband is gay but continues to use him as her main source of emotional support.  She acts out in very co-dependent ways and won’t accept that he’s treated her horribly.  This is quite common for many straight spouses as denial is the glue that keeps these marriages together for so long.  It’s difficult to suddenly turn on the light and see reality.

Resentment & Sadness

The show also captured the deep resentment and sadness that both women experience.  In reality it would most likely stretch out much longer and be more intense, but at least the producers and writers allowed both characters to get angry, meltdown, and process real emotions.  The disclosure wasn’t just a punchline, it given real gravitas.

Conflicted emotions in adult children

The adult children of both couples also expressed deeply conflicted feelings towards their fathers.   As adults they still saw that their fathers had both cheated, lied and betrayed their mothers while setting them adrift in their old age.  Despite their love for their dads, they couldn’t ignore their misdeeds.

Realistic gay couple

Another thing I liked about the show is that the gay partners act like any couple, they fight, they get frustrated with each other, they have bad communication skills but ultimately love each other very deeply.  They were a fully dimensional and believable couple.

Most mixed orientation marriages would make extremely boring and sad television shows,  Our lives don’t get nicely wrapped up in cute 30 minute episodes.  Many of us live with emotional damage and shattered trust for years.  With all of this though, I’m glad our stories are getting told at all.   Just a decade ago it would have been unheard of to have a show explore this topic. I hope one day people may wonder why anyone would marry someone to hide the fact that they were gay.  It simply won’t make any sense to do something so against one’s nature.

I laughed and cried while watching Grace and Frankie and I can’t wait for the next season.  Even though it’s largely a best case scenario fairy tale, at least both straight spouses are sympathetic and likable and their struggles and obstacles are given respect.   I’m thankful to both Fonda and Tomlin for having the courage to tackle this subject and to make an entertaining and funny show about it.

Related Articles

My website www.julietjeske.com

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske

Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page

Dear Rick Perry, Being Gay is not a Disease

images-1

Rick Perry, you really don’t understand homosexuality.  To quote you directly.

Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.

You also advocated for the widely discredited, reparative therapy for homosexuals.  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

You might also think that homosexuality is a disease, but the medical community would strongly disagree with you.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

I hate to break this to you but, gay men and women have existed in every culture on the planet, long before a few scant condemnations in the Old and New testaments of the Christian bible  Despite the importance some Christians have placed on the evils of homosexuality, Jesus Christ didn’t think it was worthy of discussion.

Rick, do you ever wonder what happens to gay men and women when they try to force themselves to live a lie?  Do you think that it’s just a matter of self-control?  Do you think once they get married, settle down and have a few kids that those urges and attractions will vanish?

Well Rick, I’ve got news for you.  Most mixed orientation marriages end catastrophically with both partners greatly damaged.  I was in one of those marriages.  I had no idea my husband was gay when I married him.  He was full of so much self-hate about his sexual orientation he thought he could change himself.  He was basically lying to me and everyone else close to him in his life for years.  He tried desperately to change, but realized he couldn’t.  He is gay.  He was gay before we got married, he was gay during our marriage and he’s gay now.  It’s a fundamental part him.  It’s not a weakness of moral character, it’s not a lifestyle choice and it’s not an addiction.  He lived in misery because he was desperately trying to be something he wasn’t.  Now that he is out and proud, he’s a much happier person.

His self-loathing and shame came from the false belief that being gay is a fault or shortcoming.  When I first confronted my ex-husband about his sexual orientation he would have given anything to change it.  Luckily for both of us, he has grown to accept and love himself.  We are both better off now living authentic lives and not trapped in a sham marriage.

There are millions of other straight spouses like me all over the country.  Most of these marriages leave a path of destruction in their wake.  I know women who have buried their husbands with full-blown AIDS, others who have contracted the virus from their spouse. I have heard of suicides and even homicides when these marriages disintegrate  Parents who lose access to their children, and children who now have to split time between two homes.  I’ve met damaged and broken men and women on both sides of these doomed partnerships.  I suffered from a massive depression, I was nearly financially destroyed, I’ve had to accept that I’ll probably never have my own children and at my worst I was suicidal.  It’s hardly been an easy road for me, and I know it’s a daily struggle for many of my straight spouse counterparts.

If our spouses were happier in their own skin, if they could envision a happy and healthy life for themselves, they never would have entered into these fraud marriages.  If you claim to champion family values, you would never encourage a gay person to try to force themselves to be straight.  You would never expect someone to try to change something so fundamental about themselves.  Rick, do you think you could force yourself to live as a gay man?  Do you think you would be happy if every day you had to live a lie?

Your words have consequences.  You lead a state with over 26 million people.  Every time you condemn homosexuality you reinforce the bullying, the discrimination and hate that leads to misery, self-destructive behavior and even suicide.  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers.  When you call for medical quackery like reparative therapy you cause more suffering.   Homophobia affects more than just the gay people you target.  The hate splinters out like broken shards of glass cutting into everyone around the intended target.  Relationships between parents and children are destroyed and families are torn apart, and all for something that cannot be changed.  My own life was greatly harmed by this nonsense and I’m not going to be silent when you perpetuate myths and misinformation.

Homosexuality is just another way of being human, and there are a lot of beautiful LGTB human beings in your state.  They just want to live their lives authentically and without shame.  They want to raise families and grow old with their partners.  They just want to live like any other Texan.  You can remain in the dark ages as states around the country legalize same-sex marriage and end discrimination against LGTB people.  I know not every Texan agrees with you.  Hopefully more and more of them will speak out against this bigotry.  Which side of history do you want to be on?

Related Articles

My website www.julietjeske.com

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske

Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page

Straight Spouse: Myth #1 – We Bounce Right Back

sc000059c6

Mixed orientation marriages are fraught with misunderstandings and misconceptions. When disclosure occurs many falsely believe that both partners are immediately healed.  The most common comment I get is:

“So you guys are still friends?”

Second only to:

“Well you’re both doing great, right?”

Everyone wants a happy ending, but these marriages rarely resolve well.  Of course not every mixed orientation marriage ends in divorce, and not every divorce is catastrophic. Regardless, in most cases life doesn’t go back to normal.

A few of my critics have argued that as a straight person I don’t face the same types of challenges my ex would as a newly outed homosexual.  They’re completely correct – I have no idea what it’s like to come out as a gay person after concealing my sexual orientation for most of my life.  I also have no understanding of what it might be like to grow up as a gay child, or to have my family reject me because of my sexual orientation.

The flip side of the dilemma is of course, that a gay person doesn’t know what it’s like to live as a straight spouse.  Although our marriages run the spectrum, for many of us deception, infidelity and betrayal defined our partnerships.  Taking the gay issue out of the equation, years of lies and cheating cause severe damage for anyone of any orientation.  Our partner’s sexual orientation disclosure creates causes more obstacles.

When do we tell our children? – Will they be ridiculed because of it?  Will they face depression or anger? Will the disclosure cause friction between our children and our former spouse?  If the truth is accidentally revealed will our children get angry with us for hiding the truth?  Some parents choose to keep this part of their marriage secret for years.  To say that this is a difficult burden would be an enormous understatement.

What do we tell friends, family and co-workers?  – Ultimately the reasons for our divorces are no one’s business.  What happens though, is if we don’t give people a reason, they might invent one.  I had to deal with so many rumors and outright lies after my marriage fell apart.  Some criticized me for publicly outing my ex-husband on social media, even though my ex-husband and I had both agreed that for us it was the best way to handle it.  Many straight spouses enter into a closet that our spouses left, some hiding the truth for decades.

Have I been exposed to HIV? – Even though HIV isn’t the automatic death sentences it once was, people are still dying from AIDS.  Of course HIV exposure is a risk with any cheating spouse, but the chances of infection are higher if the spouse is engaging in high risk behavior.  I’ve met more than one woman who have recently buried their spouses from full-blown AIDS.  Some extremely unfortunate partners have contracted the virus from a cheating spouse.

How do we live down the stigma? – Just as LGTBQ people have to deal with prejudices and hatred so do straight spouses.  I’ve gotten comments such as:

  • You had to have known he was gay
  • You turned him gay – this one happens more than you would think, I even once got it from an openly gay man.  I wish i had the power to change a person’s sexual orientation but that’s not a super power I posses.
  • There’s something wrong with you, and that’s why you married a gay man
  • You’re gay yourself
  • You’re sexually repressed, frigid or hate sex
  • Your ex is bisexual, no one is gay or straight everyone is bisexual – the term is sexual fluidity and I respectfully disagree with their opinion about human sexuality.
  • Your poor husband, that must have been so awful for him – I would never deny that it was easy for my ex, but it’s really the worst thing to say to me right off the bat
  • Maybe your ex is just using it as an excuse – Are you sure he’s gay?
  • Gay people are disgusting, evil and against God – people who make comments like these usually expect me to chime in.

Severely damaged sexuality – There is no way to sugarcoat this one.  Most straight spouses experience major problems with their own sexuality and self-esteem.  It’s soul crushing to discover that the person you thought was the love of your life had little to no sexual attraction to you.  To act as if we can simply brush this off and go back to a normal life is naive at best.  Of course we do heal and move on with our lives but the negative sexual aspect of our marriages cannot be denied.

It’s not easy to date again – That’s true of any divorced person especially past the age of 35.  I have no idea how difficult it is for gay men and women in the dating scene.  I would never even try to speculate at the specific challenges LGTBQ men and women face every day.  I just know my own experience has been bleak.  I’m nearly five years out and have had nothing even close to a normal relationship.  I’m somewhat isolated in my job, I’m over 35, I live in a big city, I have massive trust issues and difficulty bonding – whatever the reason I’m perpetually alone.

Our unique circumstances separate us from the general divorced population.  We have a suicide rate that’s over three times as high as people going through a typical divorce. Anecdotally I’ve found most of us have problems with bonding and trust and many of us have difficulty forming intimate relationships.

I’m not writing this to discourage straight spouses.  I just want to counter some of the biggest misconceptions about our experiences.  These marriages cause extreme damage to both partners.  Any privilege we have as straight people in a homophobic society doesn’t equal the destruction to our self-esteem, sexuality, trust and shattered families.  It’s not easy for us, or our closeted gay partners.  Despite the estimated 2 million people affected, the straight spouse community is largely hidden and underground.  Many of us suffer in isolation without knowledge that there are so many others.

I have nothing but love and empathy for LGTBQ people, and I hope that one day no LGTBQ person will enter into a fraudulent marriage.  If two people want to openly forge a mixed orientation marriage knowing the truth, that’s something else entirely.  Marriages like mine based on lies, are not victimless situations.  I will continue to write about being a straight spouse and be an advocate for our community until this finally stops being a problem.  I have tremendous hope for future generations.  LGTBQ people will be able to marry and live whomever they want.  Until then I will share the brutal realities in the hopes that truth will set us free.

Related Articles

My website www.julietjeske.com

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske

Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page

 

 

Straight Spouses: Homophobia – An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

images

 

I have a litmus test that I use when meeting new people.  When I reveal why I got divorced – the way a person responds tells me all I need to know about them. Because of this blog, and my advocacy for the straight spouse community, my story is extremely public.  I’ve gotten comments like:

  • That’s impossible, you had to have known he was gay.
  • Then he was bisexual because no gay person can have sex with a straight person.
  • Homosexuality is sinful, disgusting, immoral, against God.
  • What an asshole – I hate f*ggots.
  • You turned him gay.
  • So do you hate gay men now?

Many who start trashing LGTB people expect me to chime right in.  It usually unnerves them when instead of joining them I immediately defend the LGTB community.  The gay haters expect me to agree with them because my life was negatively impacted by a gay person’s actions.  What they don’t understand is that I believe that my ex-husband was born gay, and that his sexual orientation was in no way shape or form a choice.  I also understand that if he wasn’t filled with so much self-hatred about being gay, he probably wouldn’t have married a straight woman.  He was desperate to try to suppress his sexual orientation and a lot of his motivation was due to self-loathing.  I also know that my ex-husband does not represent the entire LGTB community and his actions are his own.  The factor that indirectly lead to our marriage was – homophobia – the fear and hatred of homosexuality.

At the same time because I keep writing about the topic of Straight Spouses, some LGTB people have accused me of being homophobic. Some comments I’ve gotten:

  • Mixed orientation marriages are very nuanced.
  • Gay issues have nothing to do with you.
  • You are not allowed to write about your marriage – only your own experience.
  • It’s impossible for a straight person to be victimized by a gay person, because gay people have such a rough time of it.
  • You have no idea how hard it is to grow up as a gay child.

These same people will also say I’m playing the victim, yet in their own statements they are proclaiming their own greater victimization.  I admit I don’t know anything about growing up gay, but then a LGTB man or woman doesn’t know anything about being in a fraudulent marriage or living as a straight spouse.   Trying to compare each other’s personal experience or pain is a circular argument that gets both sides nowhere.  We have both suffered and the cause of our torment is from the same source – homophobia.

I could show the people who accuse me of being anti-gay the stacks of hate mail I’ve gotten when I’ve been published in support of the LGTB rights.  I might show them screen shots of the pure vitriol on my twitter account when I’ve dared to speak out in support of same-sex marriage or criticize a company like Chick-Fil-A for it’s anti-gay policies.  In fact my destroyed marriage has made me even more passionate about gay rights.  Homophobia is an equal opportunity destroyer, it hurts not just LGTB people directly but radiates out to negatively affect loved ones, family members and of course straight spouses.  My ex-husband’s self hatred and fear of his sexuality is exactly what motivated him to enter into a sham marriage.

No two straight spouse situations are exactly the same.  Some met their partners at a young age before either one of them truly understood their sexuality. Others are so deep in denial that they truly can’t comprehend their own sexuality and have no intention of misleading their spouse.  Some closeted partners remain faithful and do not have any sexual encounters outside the marriage.  However in the majority of cases our stories are far more tragic.  Many of our spouses had homosexual encounters before marriage and hid their background.  Lying about one’s history is a form of deception or fraud, regardless of the circumstances.

A few Straight Spouses I’ve known have had to bury their husbands with full-blown AIDS, some have even contracted HIV from a cheating spouse.  Others find themselves embroiled in vicious custody battles which drag on for years.  A few are completely abandoned physically and emotionally once their spouses are finally open about their sexuality.  Many Straight Spouses are financially ruined.  In the most twisted cases a closeted spouse will retreat even deeper into denial and marry another straight partner.  Many won’t even identify as bisexual but will insist they are straight, despite hard evidence of numerous affairs and sexual trysts with same-sex partners. Some create complicated lies to push all responsibility and blame on their spouses.  A few even claim their former spouses made them gay.  All of this behavior is a direct side effect of the hatred and fear of homosexuality.  Without homophobia there would be no reason for a LGTB person to enter into a mixed orientation marriage under false pretenses.  These marriages often leave both partners extremely damaged and is hardly a victimless crime.

When people in the LGTB community want to negate what happens in mixed orientation marriages they are hurting their larger cause. Straight Spouses are living proof that the hatred of homosexuality impacts more than just LGTB men and women.  If anti-gay forces could actually see what their policies were causing – divorce and broken families – they might reconsider trying to pressure LGTB people to live as heterosexuals.

Every group of human beings includes a few narcissistic, selfish and even sociopathic individuals.  Many people who marry others under false pretenses tend to share some of these personality traits.  It is not to say that these few represent the majority of the LGTB community.  Most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  A generation ago it happened much more often, because hatred towards LGTB people was far more pronounced.  Hopefully as LGTB men and women are more accepted, and have equal rights, fewer LGTB people will feel the need to live a lie.   I have empathy for those who hate themselves so much that they enter into these marriages, but they lose my sympathy when they will not take responsibility for any harm they caused.  In many cases the deceptive spouse refuses to take any accountability.  Being gay and having a difficult childhood does not absolve anyone of the responsibility of hurting other people. Just imagine if every minority group tried to argue that every individual in their group had immunity for their actions due to their oppression – no one would buy that argument.  Homophobia is a mitigating factor, but a liar and a cheater is still responsible for his or her infidelity and deception.  Of course some mixed orientation marriages are open and honest.  If these marriages work for the two people involved in the partnership, good for them.  Unfortunately most mixed orientation marriages are based on massive deception.

I can’t speak for all Straight Spouses.  I’ve met a few who for religious or personal reasons, do no agree with homosexuality.  I can say though with some confidence most Straight Spouses want what the majority of LGTB people want – a culture that accepts being gay as normal as being heterosexual.  By speaking our truth and sharing our stories we are proof that a life inside “the closet” has real victims. Both spouses are harmed by these sham marriages as are our families.  It would make my life much easier to hide and not speak about this, but people need to know the ugly reality of what happens when LGTB men and women try to force themselves to live a lie.  There is nothing wrong with being gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or any of the many varied forms of human sexuality between consenting adults.   Straight Spouses do not hold the entire LGTB community responsible for the actions of our spouses.  We do NOT condemn LGTB people for being authentic and living their lives openly – no matter what their orientation.  Deception and lies, however wreck nothing but havoc and the reality of our situations needs to be exposed.  This is not a Straight Spouse vs. LGTB situation.  We’re really on the same team. Straight Spouses shouldn’t be forced into the closet our former partners just left.  As uncomfortable as our stories might make some people, they need to be heard.  A gay person may have hurt us badly, but that doesn’t mean we are against gay people.  In fact we want LGTB men and women to live as normal a life as anyone and for all marriages to be based on love and honesty – not deception and fear.

Related Articles 

I don’t believe in tip jars as I think they are quite tacky but if you want to help out this blog, please watch the short advertisement.  A small portion of the revenue of this ad helps me pay for the costs of the blog.  I have no control over the content of the advertising.  Thanks so much for reading!  🙂

Why I continue to write about Being a Straight Spouse

sc000059c6

Some people ask why I continue to write about this issue.  It’s been four years since I found out the truth about my marriage.  My ex-husband and I have made amends.  Although we didn’t go through every detail and every transgression on his part, we have reached a point were we accepted what happened.   He has admitted fault and sought forgiveness, I have accepted my codependency on him and my marriage.  I write about this because I know there are so many others like me out there, and because there is so much misunderstanding about these marriages.

Both partners suffer greatly.  We are left with broken trust, shattered lives and often broken families.  Many of us have great difficulty bonding with a new partner or marrying again.  Some are left to raise children on their own, many are financially ruined.  I have known a few stories where partners have contracted HIV from their spouses, or had to bury a spouse due to AIDS.    Some of us cut off our former spouses and try to rebuild our lives without them.

Our spouses have different repercussions depending on how much responsibility and accountability they take.  Some go even deeper into denial and refuse to accept themselves, and even marry another straight partner hoping to continue to live a lie.  A few partners decide that we caused their homosexuality or their infidelity and get vicious during a divorce.  I’ve heard absolutely horrific stories of long drawn out battles that are devastating.  Some regress to a more immature time in their lives and abandon their families, cut off all contact, even with their own children, a few completely disappear.  In one extreme case a man faked his own death, only to reemerge 16 years later openly gay.  Some spouses do everything they can to restore some type of relationship, they make amends, they ask for forgiveness, they remain positive parents to their children and do their best to rebuild trust.

In the most tragic cases both straight spouses and our partners have committed both suicide and homicide.  People are capable of doing truly horrible things, regardless of their sexual orientation.   There have been examples from straight spouses and their partners of self-inflicted violence, or violence towards their spouse.

For a lot of us, our situation lies somewhere between the extremes. a few couples even decide to stay together and redefine their marriages, although most of us separate or divorce.  The best resolutions usually occur with open communication and accountability for past transgressions.  Straight Spouse marriages are similar but they run the full spectrum of outcomes.

I still write about this because I know it helps other straight spouses find the help they need.  I still write about this because it could also help people who might be considering marrying someone to try to “fix” their gay tendencies or urges.  I write about this because I really don’t want it to keep happening.  I write about this because I’m sick of people making wild assumptions about us or our former spouses.

GLTBQ people should be proud of who they are, and should be able to marry whomever they want in an honest and open way. They should be able to be openly gay, and free to live happy and healthy lives and not try to hide behind a facade.   I do have empathy towards their situation.  But we can’t sweep the ugliness under the rug, and no one should get a free pass for abusive, neglectful, deceitful behavior because they were confused about their sexual orientation.  It’s not easy being gay, and the coming out process for many is long and difficult, but they should also come to terms with those they have hurt along the way.  The closet doesn’t just affect the person living inside of it, but everyone around them.   We all have suffered, but we will end the suffering if we all face the truth.  We cannot continue to live in proverbial closets where the dark sides of mixed orientation marriages are brushed aside or ignored.  The hate and prejudice directed at GLTBQ affects more than just the community itself.  The damage to those individuals and the self-hatred splinters outward affecting their families and loved ones – including Straight Spouses.

An invaluable resource for anyone facing this is the Straight Spouse Support Network.  There you will find access to local support groups in your area, chat rooms full of other straight spouses sharing their stories, literature and books written by and for straight spouses, literature and books written from our spouse’s perspectives and support for children affected by these situations.  SSN is literally one stop shopping for advice on just about every aspect of dealing with these revelations.   Author and therapist Bonnie Kaye has a blog for women who were married to gay men.  There are private groups on Facebook, retreats where we physically get together and meet other straight spouses from around the country.  You are not alone.  I might eventually just run out of things to say on the subject, but I will never stop supporting other men and women who find themselves in this most horrible shared experience.

Related articles

One Straight Spouse who supports Same-Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The current court struggle against the Defense of Marriage Act  in the US Supreme Court  could help decide the fate of same-sex marriage in this country.  If the federal government decides that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is unconstitutional, opportunities for same-sex marriage legislation could open up in states that have banned such unions. Any laws currently on the books in states that violate the US constitution will be basically nullified.  We have seen examples of this same thing in regards to civil rights and access to abortion.  The marriage equality battle has in many ways reached a tipping point.

Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that letting gays marry will cause some sort of destruction of our society.  If we allow gays to marry the institution of marriage will erode and locusts and frogs will drop from the sky, maybe the rivers will run with blood.  Biblical plagues aside, preventing gays and lesbians from entering into legally binding marriages does have real life consequences.  Marriages that are not recognized by the state face all sorts of legal obstacles – child custody, inheritance, citizenship, tax penalties even health insurance.  One group of collateral damage that is largely ignored – straight spouses and their families.

When I use the label straight spouse, most people have no idea what I am talking about.  As a group we are mostly hidden.  A common saying in straight spouse groups is “As our spouses come out of the closet, we go into one.”  We are not small in numbers, according to many sources including the Straight Spouse Network there are approx. two million Americans who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  It might be hard for many to believe that the problem is so prevalent, but straight spouses exist in every region in the United States crossing every racial, cultural and socioeconomic boundary.  We are everywhere, and a direct result of prejudice and hatred for homosexuality.  Ironically we were all one half a traditional marriage that was wrecked by homophobia.

In most situations a gay man or woman enters into a marriage with a straight partner under false pretenses.  They want children, a stable home life, white picket fences and apple pie dreams.  What they usually end up with are broken families and deeply damaged relationships.  No one can live a lie for an extended period of time and not do great destruction to themselves and everyone around them.  Some are in denial of their true orientation for years, while others actively pursue a full-blown homosexual life for the duration of their sham marriages.  A few mixed orientation marriages are successful.  However they are the exception not the norm.  In most cases both partners knew they were entering a non-traditional relationship.  The vast majority of mixed orientation marriages leave a path of destruction across generations.

No laws are going to stop human sexuality.  Even in countries where homosexuality, promiscuity and adultery are punishable by death the behavior still occurs.  Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgendered identity have been around as long as humans have been on this planet.  Instead of subjugating GLBT people into second class citizens and forcing them to live a life of shame, we should embrace them as they are and end this insane marginalization.  Sexual activity between two consenting adults should not be an issue of the state or anyone.

Had my former spouse, and countless others felt they had the option to marry and raise children with a same-sex partner the plight of many straight spouses like myself, could have been much different.   When opponents of same-sex marriage cry that these partnerships will be a threat to traditional marriage, I have to think of my own wrecked life and question their logic.

The damage that I have suffered as a result of my marriage and subsequent divorce has been devastating.  Even four years after the fact I have difficulty trusting and bonding with intimate partners.  I have yet to have a decent, stable relationship for any length of time.  Yet I am one of the luckier ones: I didn’t contract HIV, I didn’t have to go through a divorce with children, I didn’t lose everything, I didn’t have to bury my spouse from AIDS, and I didn’t commit suicide.

We need marriage equality NOW, so that in a few generations there will be no such thing as a straight spouse.  Every man or woman should have the same expectations for a loving legal partnership that is recognized by the state and society.  Forcing people to live in rigid narrow constraints leads to nothing but suffering.  Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are simply part of humanity.  It’s about time we accept them as full-fledged members of the human race and not buy into bigotry and superstitious nonsense.

A Loving Couple: What Gay Marriage Really Looks Like

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So any regular readers of this blog already know, I am a straight spouse.  A straight spouse is a person who married someone who they thought was straight only to find out years later that their partner was actually secretly gay.   My marriage was smoke and mirrors of lies, deception and ultimately betrayal.  From the outside my marriage appeared completely normal but we were both stuck in a miserable union.  I blame homophobia and the fear of homosexuality in part for the phenomena of gay men and women entering into these unions.  Every straight spouse knows all to well the personal hell that is a mixed orientation marriage.  Our partners, filled with so much self-loathing, bent themselves into knots to become something they weren’t and thousands of spouses and children end up as collateral damage to these sham marriages.    And then there is a marriage, like this one…

Tom & Jon

I remember when Jon first met Tom.  Jon was an actor, and Tom was a writer.  They had the same easy-going sense of humor and love of all things nerdy.   Smart, funny and supportive of their friends they were both well liked by almost everyone who knew them. Tom and Jon were one of those couples that were so cute together, they even dressed alike.  I haven’t seen either of them in years but we keep in touch thanks to Facebook and email.

Anyone terrified of same-sex marriage should watch this video.  Jon and Tom are just like any married couple.  They have a lot of the same interests, they love each other deeply and live fairly ordinary lives.   When I watch this I don’t see the end of civilization or the return of Sodom and Gomorrah, I just see a wonderful man who is very proud of his partner and his marriage.   And honestly I have been witness to some fairly dysfunctional and abusive straight marriages…haven’t we all?  Marriage is a crap shoot and if these two men can live together happily with their two cats, why should anyone care?  The whole point of a secular marriage is if one of them gets sick, the other one can visit them in the hospital, if one of them dies they can leave their estate to the other and on and on.  They should have the right to the same legal protections that any married couple have in this country.  Same sex couples aren’t storming churches demanding that the faithful accept them into their congregations.  They aren’t  pushing for legislation to ban straight marriages, or to make it legal for a gay employer to fire a straight employee based on their sexual orientation.  They aren’t promoting laws to make heterosexual sex illegal.  They aren’t designing programs to make straight people gay.   They just want to live their lives in peace.  This is NOT the end of the world, this is normal.

Life After Divorced: Being a straight spouse two years later.

sc000059c6

I still remember my wedding day, vividly.   Any day planned and fretted about for months is going to stick in your brain for a lifetime.  Any day built up as the beginning of the rest of your life will burn into your psyche, in the same way horrible trauma sears its pain and anguish deep into your bones.   Try as you might, you can’t shake it the pain becomes a part of your very foundation.  Few positive memories have the same effect.  For whatever reason, our bodies, hearts and minds tend to cling to the negative memories such as: being humiliated in front of your class, not being able to get jeans off in time due a broken zipper and wetting myself at girl scout camp, seeing my father lash out at me in a yet another blinding rage, losing a  job or role for reasons unknown, having a voice teacher tell me I would never be a singer, seeing the face of a lover suddenly go cold and distant, having no one show up to my 13th birthday party….and on and on and on.  The traumas and disappointments get inside of you like a bad virus you can’t shake, but the good memories fade quickly.  The memories replaced instead by just vague emotion.  Instead of specific images they blur into shifting colors through a window.  Instead of the detailed sharp piercing prongs of negative memories happy thoughts become reduced to feelings.  I can’t remember holding my cat for the first time, hugging a friend I haven’t seen forever, the first kiss from a person I adore, winning a competition….they drift, they fade only warm pretty shadows remain in their place.

The memory of my wedding day is now traumatic but still beautiful in my mind, so like the crazy nuanced event it has become, it is now a hybrid of negative crystal clear clarity and blurred fuzzy happiness.   The one image that keeps coming back is the walk down the aisle.  I used to have PTSD style flashbacks of the very event.  I would be sitting on the train or reading a book and for no reason it would flash into my brain as clear as it was actually happening.  The cathedral, with his family on one side and mine on the other, the organ music, with all of these faces turned towards me.  It was so overwhelming, all I could do to get through the ritual was to focus on my soon to-be husband and move closer and closer to him and the rest of my life.  I knew that if I turned to look at people on either side I would start crying and I didn’t want to cry on my wedding day so I kept focusing on the task at hand and that was to get down the aisle without shedding a tear.  My husband was now my new family, the scars and damage from my old one were over and I had chosen this new man to start over and help wipe away the darkness and pain of the past.

Since my divorce, I have had recurring nightmares of being outside of my body trying to run up to myself in the moments while screaming

“Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it”

The sound of my screams echoing through the great hall of marble, but no one looks up, no one even flinches and I still just keep moving forward.   Nothing I can do can stop me, it is like looking at ghosts re-enacting the same scene in a play over and over.

I hate it when people say,

“Well at least your husband was just gay, it could have been a lot worse”

Or anything to the effect of that I have somehow had it easier than a typical divorced person.

I guess in some ways I have, in that the end was so absolute.  There was no reason to second guess why I was leaving my husband, no amount of couples counseling, no amount of therapy or listening skills that would have made anything better, no horrible act of betrayal that I would regret for ending everything.  But on the downside I felt cheated.  I got cheated at a chance at a normal marriage, with a man of the same sexual orientation who loved me like a man is meant to love a woman, in mind, heart and body.

I was cheated of the chance of having children and being a mother.  I know I _might_still have time left, but dating at age 38 is difficult as half of the eligible men already have children and don’t want more.   And in my current state I couldn’t afford to raise a child on my own, as I can barely take care of myself.  There are times on the subway or in the park that even the sight of a young mother with her child will send me spiraling.  Suddenly tears come from nowhere and I can’t make them stop.  Why is she so lucky to have the one thing that I will never get to experience?  I am constantly told that I shouldn’t give up hope but I haven’t been able to sustain a relationship for any length of time and every other man who I find compatible is already a father and doesn’t want more children.  I had to end therapy because literally every single session was the same conflict, the same fear, the same resentment over probably losing the chance to be a parent.   When my therapist suggested I go back on medication, and then tried to get me to justify what I consider a fairly innate human desire to procreate I couldn’t take it anymore and ceased the sessions.

I was cheated of the dream that everyone has when they get married, that despite the obstacles in life and arguments, fights, and petty annoyances I no longer have a partner for life.  I was cheated on the intimacy of an adult human sexual relationship.  It seemed normal at first but it quickly became dysfunctional but because I loved my husband I stuck it out, and now I beat myself up for not leaving sooner.

So over two years have passed, but I am still not right.  I am still not healed and I don’t know if I ever will be.  I am suspicious of every man I meet, and I trust no one, it is so debilitating that I actually stick around in relationships that aren’t fully formed, that aren’t as scary, that aren’t as real…I am scared to have a real one.

But my shattered life has in some ways made me stronger, like a piece of metal cracked and then welded back together, or a bone broken and then reset.  I am no longer the same shape, my insides, my skeleton is not the same, and I don’t react to pain the same way.  I am far more empathetic to another person’s pain especially anyone divorced.  I feel deeply for them, and I cut them a lot of slack for self-destructive behavior or lashing out at themselves or others.  I know they are in a ton of pain and that most of their actions are not directed at me or anyone, but instead directed at the emptiness inside of them.  I have also learned that I have to heal myself before allowing anyone else in.  I no longer have my husband to unload my emotional baggage on.  And friends get tired when I repeatedly do it to them, so I am now forced to deal with it on my own, with just my broken heart and damaged soul to mend myself.  These things have definitely made me a better friend and a better person, but the lack of trust and emotional scars have made me more skittish and more apprehensive about letting anyone new in.   I have become damaged goods complete with certain memories playing repeatedly in my mind.  Hopefully I will one day be able to replace the photo sharp negative ones with more blurry happy thoughts.  But until then, I try to ride the nightmare of the memory of walking to my new life of fraud, deception and loss.  Two years ago I was pushed off a cliff and I survived, now I just need to figure out how to pick of the pieces and start climbing again.