Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

Over at the FAQ page of Beyond Ex-Gay we have the question, What is an Ex-Gay Experience? with the answer:

It can be as simple as gay guys trying their hand at football and lesbians sitting in on a Mary Kay Makeup makeover to something as serious and severe as electroshock therapy.

The idea is to find change from unwanted same-sex desires and gender differences. In some cases the experience is religious-based, but not always. It can also be done within a group, in one-on-one sessions or solo.

Photo of onramp (?)An ex-gay experience seeks to change desire, behavior and/or gender presentation. People have tried multiple methods including

  • counseling (with a trained counselor or pastoral counseling with a minister)
  • attendance in an ex-gay support group or a residential program
  • dating (or marrying) someone of the opposite sex in hopes of experiencing change in desire
  • dressing and acting according to the gender normative standards in one’s society
  • reading books and narratives by people who say they changed
  • attending ex-gay conferences
  • submitting to prayer, fasting, exorcism, aversion therapy, hug therapy, same-sex heterosexual mentoring, and twelve-step programs.

Lots of people have had ex-gay experiences even though they never attended an ex-gay program. The theories of the Ex-Gay Movement get spread through books, radio programs, men’s and women’s groups, pulpits and in counseling sessions. But even non-gay people who do not conform to gender norms who who may be transgender can be affected by the pressure to “change” or fit in with the norms and demands around them instead of being pursuing a path of authenticity.

I hear from lots of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who never once stepped foot into an ex-gay program, yet they can say that they have been negatively affected by the ex-gay movement, especially because of their faith background.

Ray Boltz, a well-known contemporary Christian singer, came out publicly yesterday via an interview with the Washington Blade. In the article he references the Ex-Gay Movement.

It got to the point by the early-to-mid ’00s that keeping his homosexuality hidden had become an increasingly wearying notion.

“You get to be 50-some years old and you go, ‘This isn’t changing.’ I still feel the same way. I am the same way. I just can’t do it anymore.’”

There was some exploration of “ex-gay” therapy though Boltz never attended an “ex-gay” camp or formal seminar.

“I basically lived an ‘ex-gay’ life — I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change.”

As with many ex-gay surivor narratives, Ray was not the only one affected by ex-gay experiences. The interview mentions Ray’s wife, Carol, and their children.

One of the challenges that many of us who have been in “mixed orientation” marriages face is how to be honest about ourselves and the marriage while seeking to validate both the good and the difficult aspects of the relationship. Some have called these unions between a gay man and a straight woman (or the other way) “sham marriages,” but for many of us who had been in these marriages, they contained genuine partnership on many levels. Yes, we hid a part of ourselves that we struggled with privately, often apart from our partners, but that does not invalidate the years of relationship building, of loving, of growing and giving.

Realistically these marriages often need to end for both parties to move on and continue to grow and live a healthy life. At the end of these marriages, just like at the end of an ex-gay journey, we often need to find creative ways to mourn the loses of dreams we once held dear. As we get beyond our ex-gay experiences, we will find a new found freedom, hope and even joy, but it comes mixed with regrets and even damage from what we’ve gone through, damage from which we may never completely recover.

My hope is that as people like Ray step forward to tell their stories that others will make better informed choices about their own lives and loved ones so that they can avoid the destructive nature of false promises.

If you are a praying person, pray for Ray and Carol and their family as they publicly step into the light and may have to face some ugliness from folks who feel threatened and challenged by the realities that the Boltz family reveal. Many have come forward in support of them and their courage. May the Boltz family find love in every quarter.

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Nearly every day straight women visit my blog after putting in a search like, “my husband is gay” or something similar. In November of 2006 Susanne shared some of her story and since then other women (and men) have also read about Susanne’s marriage and her gay husband. These have also shared some of their own stories.

Earlier a woman left the following comment.

Betrayal by my husband of 28 years is devastating. He hid his gay life for years… He lied over and over and over. And put my health/life at risk. I am hurt to the core and don’t know how to get through this and ever trust and love again… How do you get over the feelings of hurt, rage, anger, sorrow, inadequacy, disgust, sadness, etc.?

Please feel free to go to the blog entry and add your own supportive comments, words of comfort and maybe share some of your own experience as a straight spouse or just someone who cares. Often when these women first find out, they struggle to share with anyone in their lives.

From getting to know some of these women face to face and through phone calls and e-mails, it is amazing how they have found the support they need and have found the strength in themselves and around them to work through the pain and the challenges. It is not easy for any of them and they have admitted that some days are harder than others, but speaking out was one of many things that has been helping them to know they are not alone and that there is a future and a hope worth pursuing.

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One of the number one key word searches that bring people to both my English and Spanish blogs has to do with questions from women who want/need to know what to do when they find out their husbands are gay. That or simply the question, How do I know if my husband is gay? Is my husband a homosexual?

I have a blog entry, My Gay Husband—A Spouse Speaks Out, (and a similar one in Spanish) which is my most visited entry. Women have added their own stories and questions in the comments section. Yesterday I received another comment that I want to share. Wives with similar experiences, feel free to offer whatever support you can over at the original thread. I feel at a loss as to what to say, but I have seen you comfort and support each other in marvelous ways.

Thank goodness I found this site. I have been married 38 years and I have asked my husband if he is gay or bi but he always said no. Two days ago I found out that he is and it explains so much. Of course I feel betrayed, that our marriage is a fraud and a sham. My sons are young adults now and I worry what they will think. At least I know the reason he always came to bed later and avoided any kind of affection and sex became non existent no matter how hard I tried. It seems that my whole adult life has crumbled into nothing. He was my first and only love..he promised to grow old with me, he gave me sons, the one person that I always trusted and thought never lied to me.

If you are currently living a lie like this with a woman, please, stop it now before you crush her completely. Do not let your selfishness hurt so many lives.

Just found out and words can’t express how devastated and alone I feel. There is no one that I can talk to as I do not want to tell our sons (he should do that) or his family, I do not want to hurt him by telling friends or coworkers. It is like a tsunami has come through my life without warning and destroyed my entire world.

One excellent resource is the Straight Spouse Network. I know some people have had problems getting a response from them, but I was told that they have since changed their protocol and say that they will respond to every e-mail they receive.

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In the Love in Action ex-gay residentatl program, Friday night was movie night. Yeah, we got to see one movie a week in the form of a video (they didn’t have a DVD—it was over 10 years ago). In the following YouTube video I reveal the secrets behind watching films in the Big House. Find out what’s in, what’s out, and why Biblical films were banned!

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My buds in Sweden, Alex and Noa Resare, have a story worth telling. Theirs is a story of love against all odds and the creativity of God. You can read some of Alex’s story over at bXg and his blog.

Recently a regional publication in the city where they live, ran an extensive article about them and their lives as a gay couple with one of the men being trans. Although lots of Americans have this idea that Sweden is light-years ahead of us in regards to LGBT issues, folks still need lots of education. I believe Alex is the first trans person the reporter met.

Here is the opening of the article:

Trots att paret Resare lever trogna sin kärlek och har varit gifta i åtta år, sedan de var 20–21 år, har de fått lämna sitt samfund och rent juridiskt ta ut skilsmässa. Orsaken är att Olivia genomgått könskorrigering och nu heter Alex.

Före könskorrigeringen gick all energi åt till att hålla tillbaka den han kände han var.

– Min Gudsbild och självbild ledde till självförakt, nu ser och uppskattar jag det vackra hos andra och i tillvaron, säger Alex.

För ett par år sedan var de ett aktivt frikyrkopar. Olivia och Noa träffades genom gemensamma vänner. De gifte sig och fick två döttrar. Olivia blev hemmafru på heltid och kämpade för att sköta hemmet perfekt.

Med förväntan träffar jag Alex och Noa tillsammans på ett kafé. Alex har bruna, lite hemlighetsfulla ögon. Stereotypa tankar på honom som Olivia med långt hår, lite läppstift och en dammvippa i handen fladdrar hastigt förbi.
Noa och Alex är inte bara skärpta och villiga att förklara, utan också två människor med en märkbar ömhet mellan sig.

Text: Erika H Magnusson
Foto: Andreas Nilsson

My translations skills fail me. But here is a rough translation. The writer insisted on using Alex’s former name, something that I understand but find disrespectful and something done out of ignorance. I will not use any such names in my translation. Alex can help if he wishes and of course others Swedes read this blog:

Despite that the Resare couple lived a sexually faithful life and had been married for eight years, since they were 20 and 21 years 0ld, they have had to leave their marriage for legal purposes and get divorced. The reason is that Noa’s wife had undergone sex correction and now is called Alex.

Before the sex correction, all Alex’s energy went to to holding back what he knew he was.

“Facing my image of God and my self-image led to lonliness and contempt. Now I understand and see myself as beautiful as other people,” Alex says.

The two were active in the free church. Alex (still a woman on the outside) and Noa met through common friends. They married and had two daughters. Alex became full-time housewife and strove to maintain the home perfect.

With anticipation, I envision Alex and Noa together in a café. Alex has brown, little secret full eyes. I had stereotyped thoughts about him that as a woman with long hair, little lipstick and a feather duster in the hand that flutters rapidly past.

Okay, that is all I can do. You can read the entire piece for yourself here. And feel free to correct my translation. It is faulty at best. Or forget about the words altogether and stare at the gorgeous picture of this amazing couple.

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Here at this blog I have featured the stories of women married to men who tried to live straight lives, but ultimately could not. The stories and the comments left by others, some just trying to come to grips with their husbands’ sexuality, sadden me and move me.

The most common key words in search engines that bring people to this sight have to do with questions like, How do I know if my husband is gay? In the post My Gay Husband–A Spouse Speaks Out, Susanne tells some of her story. Just today a women left the following comment.

I’ve been married for 15 yrs. to a caring man. However, he’s always had a low sex drive, not ED but more like avoiding sex. He watches movies late at night and goes to bed after me. I’ve tried many times to approach him on this, but always comes up with an excuse, like we just had sex last week, in reality it could be a couple of months ago, or he says well you fell asleep before me. He vowes that he loves me and does alot of kind things for me. However, I starting to feel resentment towards him that sometimes I wish I could just jump off a bridge. I have not found any proof that he is cheating with a man or a woman.

I do know that when he was a kid he was molested by a man once. I do not want to be insensitive to what he maybe going through. Whether he is gay or I don’t know what. However, life is short and I feel like I deserve to be loved physically. I don’t see cheating as an option, for I know that is not the answer. I would rather find out the truth even it hurts. I do not how to begin.

Over at my Spanish blog, I received a similar comment from a woman who does not know how to respond to the fact that her husband looks at gay porn. When asked about it, he denies being gay and won’t talk any more about it.

Many of these women feel trapped in a world where they dare not talk to friends and family. They can feel isolated and often hopeless.

Truth Wins Out
has issued a video of four women, all formerly married to men who turned out to be gay. Some of their husbands even tried ex-gay therapy. These women tell their stories simply and raise a red flag about ex-gay conversion therapy.

At BeyondExGay.com (bXg) we also feature the story of Barbara Leavitt, a Mormon woman who married a man who turned out to be gay even after getting “help”. I saw in my 17 years in the ex-gay movement, that the vast majority of mixed marriages–ex-gay with straight a straight spouse, ended in divorce leaving a wake of pain and confusion and loss. And sadly there are often few people willing to help pick up the pieces and support these spouses who suddenly face very difficult choices.

This year for National Coming Out Day, let’s remember the spouses–they too are ex-gay survivors and their stories deserve to be heard as a witness and a warning.

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Barbara Leavitt, a woman married for over 20 years to a man who no matter what he tried could not change the fact that he is oriented to romance and attraction to men, has recently begun to speak out and tell her story.

Without bitterness towards her ex-gay husband, in fact, with great compassion and understanding, Barbara has told her story over on Beyond Ex-Gay, in video presentations and at press conferences.

Here is video of a recent press conference organized by Truth Wins Out in Tampa, FL in response to the Family Impact Summit, a gathering Christian leaders who went out of their way to spread falsehoods about LGBT people. They also promoted ex-gay conversion therapies and ministries.

Thank you Barbara for stepping up and telling your story.

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Barbara Leavitt is a straight woman who married her husband over two decades ago in a Mormon Temple (Latter Day Saints–LDS). They spoke the other day outside of Evergreen International, an ex-gay program in Salt Lake City. Lester turned to Evergreen for help for his same-sex attractions. The Salt Lake Tribune published a piece about Barbara and Lester.

When she married her husband Lester in a 1981 LDS temple wedding, Barbara Leavitt had big plans.

“I was going to be the best wife ever,” she said this week with a small, rueful laugh.
But Barbara always knew there was a part of Lester she’d never reach, some secret, private place filled with thoughts and feelings he’d never share.

In 2006, after 25 years of marriage, it all came out – or rather, Lester did. For most of his life, Lester struggled with his attraction to other men, avidly seeking help and reading literature from organizations that claimed to help gay people become heterosexual or to help weaken attraction to others of the same sex.

The material he received did more harm than good, Lester said, which is why the couple demonstrated outside Evergreen International’s Salt Lake City headquarters on Tuesday morning. Evergreen is a resource for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that, according to its Web site, helps people “diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.”

When Lester came out to her, she went to the church for support, but got the exact opposite.

In her pain and confusion she turned to her church friends for support and peace. Instead, she said, with rare exceptions, she found only overwhelming fear and discrimination.

“I was told, ‘It’s too bad you can’t love Lester anymore, and that he won’t be the father of your children for all eternity,’ ” she said in her speech.

She added that she received hateful e-mails from church members she barely knew, condemning her for standing by her husband. For Lester, the alienation was more intense.

Read all of the Salt Lake Tribune’s piece A Call for more “Christlike” Approach
The Express Gay News also published an extensive piece about the Leavitt’s, their children and Lester’s partner, Mickey Rowe.

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Yesterday I wrote about Barbara and Lester Leavitt and their press conference outside of the Latter Day Saint’s program Evergreen ex-gay program. In addition to telling their stories, the Leavitt showed up to give the Evergreen leadership specially designed collages of the Leavitt’s ex-gay survivor narratives.

Christine Bakke has spent hours creating beautiful and expressive collages about our lives as survivors. We each provide Christine with photos, journal entries, poems, scripture, etc and see soaks it all in then creates the piece. (You can see mine here) It takes her four to six hours to design, sometimes longer. As she builds the piece, she absorbs the hopes, the pain, the disappointments of the survivors. Much like our Chalk Talk at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, the creation of the collages is a meditation on the ex-gay experience–the good and the harm.

For Barbara and Lester, Christine created two collages that dramatically demonstrate the breaking apart of two lives and the creation of new individuality. So often the plight of the straight spouses in mixed orientation marriages go unheard. Lester and Barbara have wonderfully supported each other, but Barbara has found that while she accepts her husband as gay as he begins his new life, her church rejects her. If she denounces her husband, she is accepted with open arms.

On this blog we have looked at some of the lives of straight spouses, particularly wives. (See Gay Husbands and Sweet Potato Fries) In the pursuit of the American dream and of reaching for the heterosexual standard in many of our churches, gay men and lesbian woman have pursued a cure to their same-sex attractions and then marriage. Too often these marriages end in disaster. Barbara and Lester’s ended too, but their love for each other remains, and although it must be harder than I can imagine, they move on to support and affirm each other.
(click on images for larger views)
We will hear from more survivors next week in Memphis when Ex-Gay Survivors will visit Love in Action to tell their stories and give framed collages to John Smid, the head of that program.

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Over at my Spanish blog, Dos Equis, I have a post entitled ¿Como Identificar si mi pareja es homosexual? which is similar to the English post What About the Spouse? The Spanish site Adriana and I maintain got so many hits due to search results about gay and lesbian spouses that we decided to write about it in Spanish.

Today I received the following comment:

Sí encontré este blog por el título de este post. Tengo serias dudas
sobre mi esposo, y esperaba encontrar aquí alguna respuesta que me ayude a
identificar si su comportamiento tiene que ver con una orientación homosexual, pero de eso, nada. Ya que te encuentras en esa situación, quizá puedas darnos algunos tips para aquellas que somos lastimadas por el engaño de un hombre que no se resigna a reconocer su inclinación, lo cual es muy injusto para la mujer. Gracias.

I found this blog through the title of this post. I have serious doubts about my husband, and I hope to find some answer that can help me determine if the way he acts might reveal that he has a homosexual orientation, but so far, I have found nothing. Since you have been in this situation, would you please give me tips those of us that suffer because of the deceit of a man who refuses to recognize his inclination, which is very unjust for the women.

This woman deserves useful answers, but I feel hesitant to write about what signs there are to figure out if your husband is gay. For one there are cultural differences to consider. Also, one size does not fit all. Each man is wired differently, and he may display certain “signs” for a variety of reasons, not simply because he is homosexual or bisexual.

So I put it out there for readers. What would you say to this woman? Some of you were married to men or women who turned out to be gay or lesbian or bisexual. Some of you who are gay or lesbian or bisexual were married to a spouse for years before you came out to your spouse. What would you say to this woman?

I also received a comment on this blog at What About the Spouse? I think it deserves to be reprinted here:

The emotional earthquake caused when a person finds out his or her spouse is gay can be devastating. I was married to a gay man for 38 years before divorcing him. I did not know when we married that he was gay.I have learned through my experinece that there are few resources for the straight spouse.

In my work as a life coach, I encourage people to cast a grateful eye toward what was good in the relationship so that moving on can be a creative process rather than one fueled by resentment and anger. Those feelings are definitely there at first, but
the energy of them can be used to create a new life.

I have also found that many gay men have made the mistake of thinking that since the straight wife was friendly and understanding with other gay men, she would accept her husbands desire to live the life style. It came as a bit of a shock to mine that I divorced him.

It would be helpful for gays married to straights to have an understanding of what their spouse might experience beforer they come out to the spouse.

Good article! Melissa McCutcheon

Thank you Melissa! I appreciate the conversations I have had with spouses who have allowed me to see the pain and difficulties as well as their healing process after they discovered that thir marriages were not going to work. Thank you for stepping up and telling your stories.

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