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Dear Rick Perry, Being Gay is not a Disease

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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?

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How did you not know? – The worst thing to ask a Straight Spouse

Wedding Cake

It’s the one question we all cringe when we hear it.  The one thing that brings more resentment and anger than any other.  The one inquiry that if people stopped and thought about it before they said it, they might not even think to ask.

It starts with the obvious

  • How did you not know he/she was gay?
  • How could you not tell he/she was gay?

The there is the mildly accusatory

  • He/She must have given you signs.
  • Didn’t you always have a suspicion from the start?

To the downright shaming

  • I just don’t understand how a person wouldn’t know their spouse was gay.
  • Didn’t you guys have sex?  How could he/she have sex with you if they were gay?
  • You knew before you married him/her right?

Straight spouses are men and women who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  For the vast majority of us, we had no idea that our partners were homosexual or had any gay tendencies.  There is a saying in our community.  When our spouses come out of the closet we go into one.  Many straight spouses don’t want to bring added shame and stigma to their kids.  They also don’t want the judgment for something their spouse did.  So most straight spouses don’t openly talk about what happened to them.  It’s estimated that there are about 2 million straight spouses in the United States.  It not that we were all so sexually repressed we didn’t know the difference, we just married liars.  Our sex lives started out normal, and became dysfunctional.

Would anyone think to ask these types of questions to someone who had a spouse who was a serial cheater?  Would they think it was appropriate to blame a person who married a charming and habitual liar?  Would they assume that a person somehow should have seen signs of a well orchestrated cover-up?

Another one we get is along the lines of logic

  • Well I just don’t see why logically he/she would do that
  • That just doesn’t make sense, no one would care if he/she was gay

When anyone uses logic in the same breath as human sexuality I have to laugh.  Did it make any logical sense for Arnold Schwarzenegger to cheat on his beautiful, well-connected wife with the family’s average looking housekeeper?  Did it make sense for Anthony Weiner to repeatedly send explicit text messages and images to women he didn’t know, AFTER he had to resign from congress for the same behavior?  Did it make sense for Rhianna to date Chris Brown again AFTER he brutally beat her?  When it comes to sex and relationships, people act illogically all the time.  Gay men and women who marry straight partners are absolutely desperate to live what they see as a normal and healthy life.  Deep down they hate themselves and will do anything to try to fix what they see as a major flaw.  In most cases, our spouses viewed us as little more than props for their illusion.  They might have cared for us a great deal in their own twisted way, but ultimately we were means to an end.

Sex is relatively easy for most adults to pull off.  If we felt like our lives depended on it, most of us could stomach having sex with just about anyone.  We probably wouldn’t really enjoy ourselves, but if the alternative meant losing everything we held near and dear to our hearts, we might be able to find away through it.  That is basically how a lot of our spouses compartmentalized sex in our marriages.  As harsh as it may seem, most of our partners admit to fantasy, imagery and role-playing in order to have sex with their straight spouses.  The entire time they really wished they were with a same-sex partner.  For some of us, our partners could only pull off the charade for so long until our marriages basically became celibate.  Some used excuses such as past sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction or lowered hormones.   Meanwhile most if not all of these closeted gay men and women were actually having some type of homosexual sex outside of the marriage.

What is even worse is the assumption that sexual orientation is always so obvious.  Not every gay man speaks with a lisp, swishes when he walks, or spends an inordinate time on his appearance.  Not every gay woman dresses in a masculine way, has a short mannish haircut or refuses to wear makeup.  In fact, very few gay men and women act like a two-dimensional stereotype. There are many shades in the sexual orientation rainbow.  For a lot of straight spouses, our partners would appear heterosexual to most people.

When my ex-husband officially came out of the closet, even his close friends were in a state of disbelief.  Some even thought I may have started gay rumors to slander him.  My ex was notorious for leaving our apartment in shabby clothing, cheap shoes and looking generally disheveled.  He also aggressively pursued me and had multiple ex-girlfriends.  His last was a long-term relationship with a stunningly attractive Asian woman.   I didn’t know until I was many years into the marriage that he had sexual dysfunction or lack of sex in all of his previous relationships.  I didn’t know until after our divorce that he probably had same-sex relationships or at least homosexual sex long before I met him.  My case is typical, not exceptional.  Most straight spouses really do have no sign that their partners are living a secret life.  Much like the spouse of a philanderer is often the last to know that their spouse has had multiple affairs outside the marriage.

Ultimately people want order and rules in life.  They want to believe that bad things don’t happen to people without a reason.  They also want to think that somehow if they were in a terrible situation they would figure out a way to get out of it.  Well two-year olds sometimes get cancer while a few horrible people live well in their nineties.  The wealthy are sometime the nastiest most undeserving people, while some with very little have no limits for love and compassion.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.   A wife or husband might be betrayed by the person they most adore.  I know these concepts might seem fairly obvious but I honestly wish more would think of them before asking:

How did you not know?

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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.

Is Living a Life in The Closet a Victimless Crime?

A wall closet in a residential house in the Un...

A wall closet in a residential house in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently wrote a piece on the John Travolta sex scandal.   What surprised me more than anything were the comments condemning me for having disdain for “The Closet“.   I am not shocked by any comment as  I get all sorts of negative comments, some vicious, some personal attacks and some that are just downright baffling.  It really takes all kinds in the comment section of a Huffington Post piece! 🙂  In most examples people just project their own agenda or perspective on to my articles no matter what I have written.  In some cases they even put words into my mouth, or proclaim that I am making blanket statements when I am not.

But the comments that really floored me were in defense of a life lived inside “The Closet”.   One commenter got so worked up he referred to me as a bigot.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a bigot is the following

Bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I guess he might be right to a point, as I don’t really like liars.  I don’t know if I would say I treat them with hatred and intolerance, but I think adults are accountable for their actions.  If someone wants to hide their sexual orientation, it’s their right, but the minute they mislead someone else to keep their secret – they tend to lose my sympathy.

My critic didn’t mention anything about gay men and women marrying straight partners under false pretenses.  He was more upset that I had dared to say I had disdain for “The Closet”.  He claimed since I was openly criticizing those who choose to live a secret life, I was adding yet another stigma for gay men and women.  It was difficult to wrap my brain around this logic.  For instance if a gay man is living as a straight man, he has to lie to pretty much everyone in his life to keep up the illusion.  I also not sure what kind of intimate relationships a closeted person could have, if they tell no one about their sexual orientation.

In my piece I never advocated for forcibly “outing” anyone.  I mainly stated repeatedly that it is a shame that anyone would have to live in that personal hell.   And by hiding their true nature, closeted homosexuals are hurting the gay rights movement at large, to quote the late gay rights advocate Harvey Milk

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene. – source wikiquote

If every homosexual were out and proud, the harassment and discrimination would lessen, because nearly everyone would discover they have a close friend, co-worker, neighbor even family member who is gay.   If every homosexual were out and proud it would be obvious to everyone in the straight community that there are gays and lesbians in every facet of our lives, every occupation, every race, every religion and every socioeconomic level.

Many compare the civil rights movement to the current struggle for gay rights.  The obvious difference being that a black man or woman cannot pretend they are white.  They cannot for a moment hide their skin color.   They cannot simply marry a white person and try to pass as Caucasian.  They can’t live a sham life and then decide to live as black on the weekends, or go to black bars under an assumed name.   They can’t log onto a black website and to try to find other blacks to hang out with and secretly be black when it is convenient for them.  So although the struggles for racial equality and sexual orientation equality are similar that difference is pretty fundamental.  In fact, if gays had no option of hiding, would their movement be further along by now?  It is difficult to say as there are so many other factors that contribute to homophobia, but most other oppressed groups do not have the same form of “Closet” in which to hide.

Of course “The Closet” is subjective.  A gay person could tell their close friends but not their co-workers.  Or they could tell most of their family but maybe not announce it to their 92-year-old grandmother.   Of course not all aspects of a person’s personal life have to be so public, but any intimate partner should not be misled.

There are also examples of people who simply live their lives blatant and in the open but without ever really coming out and announcing their sexual orientation.  I can think of any number of celebrities that have lived with a same-sex partner, never declaring their orientation but never using a straight person as a cover.  It is as if they are in the closet but with the door open, everyone pretty much knows they are gay but they don’t make an issue out of it.  I know this frustrates some in the gay movement, as they want as many public figures as possible “out and proud”.  I understand their frustration, but for me as long as a gay person isn’t using someone to hide their orientation, I don’t see the problem.   In fact by living a quiet and tranquil life they are reinforcing the idea that being gay is simply another way of being human, and that gay relationships are sometimes just as boring and mundane as straight ones.

If you are gay, and you feel like there is no way to be honest with your family and friends, you truly have my sympathy.  But you might be surprised, as they may not react as negatively as you think.  Public attitudes towards homosexuality have gotten much more positive in recent years, and the trend is towards total acceptance for the entire GLTBQ community.  Hopefully with time, same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and anti-gay discrimination laws will be universal.   Regardless, if you are gay and feel the need to hide, please don’t fraudulently get another person wrapped up into your life.   Some mixed orientation marriages are happy and healthy, but almost always when they are based on honesty and open communication.

In an ideal world, anyone’s sexual orientation could remain private without controversy.  A child could openly talk about their two mommies at school and no one would think to call the principal in protest.  Two men could live in a quiet suburb and raise an adopted child without causing anyone concern.  A young gay teen could proudly take a same-sex partner to a dance without it making the local news.

I am not gay, but my life was nearly ruined by “The Closet”.  Damaged from my experience I will probably carry those scars for the rest of my life.   So anyone advocating for a life hidden safely inside a lie, I would say this.  A life in “The Closet” yeilds unintended consequences.  And if some gays remain in hiding, who is going to stand up to the bullying, the harassment, the discrimination and hate?  A life lived in fear and shame is no way to live.   If gay men and women want true equality, they can start by first burning that closet door down forever and never hiding again.  And doesn’t everyone want an intimate partner they can have a larger part of their family and social group?  Anyone living in “The Closet” can’t fully express their love for a same sex partner, in the same way that heterosexual could, and that’s tragic.

As a straight spouse I choose to not hide my past, in fact it is all over the internet.  Anyone can find my story and ridicule me for it, or maybe not ask me out on a second date because they just can’t handle it,or send me crazy angry emails.  By making my story so public,  I get some grief, but I would rather live my live in truth than try to hide my past in shame.