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Archive for the ‘spouse’ Category

Over at Beyond Ex-Gay co-founder Christine Bakke and I receive many e-mails from ex-gay survivors sharing their stories, thanking us for the site and offering their suggestions for new features to add. We also routinely receive messages from people who never attended an ex-gay program or tried to change and suppress their sexual orientation or gender presentation, but they have become painfully aware of the harm of ex-gay experiences because their partner attempted a change process.

Last week I heard from Jayne, a lesbian in the Mid-West who wrote to us looking for answers regarding her relationship with Rachel, a woman who attended an ex-gay program previous to dating Jayne. As I mention in my article, Emotionally Dependent Relationships, many of these ex-gay programs trained us to distrust close emotional ties with people of the same-sex thus insulating us from intimacy and hindering healthy relating even years after the ex-gay experiences. The process of living in the closet in a hostile world didn’t help either.

Jayne graciously took up my invitation to write about her relationship with Rachel in hopes that others in similar situations will find comfort and support in their shared experiences. I also hope that a dialog will begin among partners of ex-gay survivors just as it has begun among the straight spouses of former ex-gays.

Jayne writes,

Loving Rachel is not hard to do at all. She is the most beautiful and generous person I have ever known, and I believe that our paths have brought us to this moment in time for a reason. In my opinion, that reason is to help her face the anguish and pain from her ex-gay experience and move forward as a healthy lesbian woman who can still have a close and loving relationship with God as well as nurture our connection to one another as two women.

snip

Her ex-gay experience has caused some difficult struggles for me and added some incredibly tough stress on our relationship. Some days are better than others, but the main struggle I have is how to be a supportive partner for her as I listen to her experiences, of which I have an immediate physical reaction to, but don’t voice that reaction because I don’t want her to feel judged or misunderstood. She has been through a very tough ordeal with the program she attended and continues to struggle with “right” or “wrong.” How do I give her the space she needs as well as prove to her that I’m committed to her and am not going to abandon her?

You can read all of Jayne’s article here.

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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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I mentioned in my previous post that I have begun to work on some new projects. One of these is fixing up my cottage that is located in the New York State Catskills nestled in the hills of Sullivan County.

About two years ago I got some land with the cottage on it. Lovely little building that used to sit on the nearby lake but over 70 years ago before someone relocated it up the hill and settled it on the property that I now own. The cottage sits on a grassy ridge overlooking a meadow. All together I have two acres of land.

Although a nice looking structure, years of neglect left it desperately in need of a new roof, some other structural work and major clean-up. The floors sag from rot. In other words it is not yet ready for habitation. But last week workers finished the roof, so it will no longer leak, and I can begin to get to work on the interior. My plans include keeping it simple. A wood stove for the heating system. A composting toilet. Some solar panels to help with the electricity. And clean open spaces. In the meadow I will plant some fruit trees–apple, pear, peaches–then put berry bushes along the border of the meadow–blueberry, blackberry, etc. Some of the land I will let go wild to give animals a place to live.

Now I am not one for physical exertion. I hate breaking a sweat, but after five years of doing lots of brain work, it felt great getting dirty and sweaty this weekend as I worked on the property. While working remembered the first job I got when I attended Nyack College back in 1983. An elderly couple needed someone to clear out the brush from their back garden. I worked for three days steady clearing bushes and weeds and trees that had grown up over twenty years. Such satisfying work (I guess I can see why President Bush prefers brush clearing on his Crawford ranch to his actual job).

Saturday would have been my 17th wedding anniversary. October 6th. That date crushed me every year since our separation and subsequent divorce. I used to fill up with shame and regret and sadness. I couldn’t face the end of the marriage. For years I couldn’t even go through the few things I had in storage from the time of the marriage. This year I remembered the date, but did not feel the weight of it.

They say time heals wounds. Perhaps. For me art and prayer and tears and talking and counseling and friends have brought the deepest healing in my life. For so long I felt like my leaky broken cottage. Broken in part because of wrong choices, mainly the choice to live a heterosexual life instead of facing the reality of my orientation thus causing pain and suffering for the people I loved.

For the past 9 1/2 years, as I emerged from the ex-gay life I lived, I have been rebuilding my life. I have pulled down walls, riped up floors–deconstructed before I could begin any kind of reconstruction. Severe work, dirty work–the basics. I labored to make my life habitable and had little time for window dressing or gardening.

The wonder of our lives is that we can rebuild. We can heal. We can emerge, scarred perhaps, but also strong and healthy and ready to embrace life anew. No wonder the resurrection and spring and the phoenix and all the ancient symbols of new life speak so deeply to so many people. They are not just old stories for us to celebrate, but hopeful patterns for us to experience today.

I know that people reading this blog have suffered genuine heartache and loss and damage because of their time in the ex-gay movement, or a marriage to a spouse who tried to go straight, or because of religious teachings designed to cage us instead of free us, and all sorts of other forms of abuse. Sometimes it feels absolutely hopeless. It can seem like the walls and ceiling have fallen on our heads, and that survival, let alone a peaceful fulfilling need life, seems impossible.

Yeah, I know that feeling. That deflated exhausted feeling. So exhausted that the thought of making a move winded me, weighed me down to the point it became an accomplishment to just get out of bed. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Plowing through that muck takes energy and support. Not something we can do alone, although it seems we to go it alone much of the time.

What is that scripture I heard quoted so many times? Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Some nights last for far too L O N G. We may pine for the night to engulf us and silence the pain. But yet a crazy spark remains in us, sometimes mirrored for us in our friends and those who love us best. We hear a word or a story or see an image that gives us hope, even for a brief moment, and me continue to press through the muck.

One day, someone very dear to you will thank you for the all the hard work you have done to rebuild this precious life of yours.

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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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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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