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Guidelines for Commenting

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in | Comments Off on Guidelines for Commenting

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Blog Guest Writers Guidelines

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in | 0 comments

GUIDELINES FOR STRAIGHT TALK
The Straight Spouse Network Blog
Thank you for offering to share your story with us!  We appreciate your interest in writing for us, and in getting the word out about the real lives of Straight Spouses. Here are our guidelines for publication:

ARTICLE LENGTH 
Approximately 600-900 words. There will likely be editing for spelling, punctuation and length. We may ask you for additional details.

AUTHOR NAME
You can publish under a pen name, or just your first name, but we have to know the real name of the person who submitted the article, and have your email contact information. It’s fine to publish under your own full name if that is what you wish, but we will not publish your spouse’s name or location or personal details.

Please be aware if you are using your full name that we get great Google ranking. Anyone searching your name on Google could possibly discover your article, now or many years from now. You can use a pen name, or just your first name if you want to avoid this.

RIGHT TO PUBLICATION
The article you submit will be for our exclusive publication. If it has previously been published elsewhere, we will mutually agree to share it. If you have a blog or website and want to include the article that you have written for us, we will place a link to that article on the SSN website with a description of what you have written. Please do not copy paste the whole article as Google penalizes duplicate content. We all want Google to find your article and get the word out! It’s more effective to say “Hey, look where this article I wrote was published” than to just republish the entire article.

Our published articles are shared on our social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They are also shared among secret groups on Facebook, and, where applicable, among unaffiliated groups of counselors, nonprofits, LGBTQ business people etc. on LinkedIn. Once your article is out on social media, be aware that it will be widely shared by us and by others.

______________________________________________ 

CONTENT

YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
The article must be your personal view, your personal experience. Unless you have been invited to contribute as a professional in a given field, you are not an expert on all straight spouses, but you ARE an expert on your own life.

Sharing your story does not mean deliberately outing your spouse, or provoking personal drama or controversy. There is a possibility that when your story appears, your spouse or family may respond negatively. We want this article to be about YOU and your experiences, but not about your spouse or family members.

Examples: you can talk about how you felt when you had to get an HIV test from your doctor, or how you found your ex advertising on hook up sites, or what happened during discovery or disclosure. But “I got AIDS because he banged everyone”, or “I found his profile on Men4Men, he’s CowboyBob25” is not appropriate.

Please do not discuss or recommend any counselors, attorneys, judges or doctors.

AVOID GENERALIZATIONS
ie “all gay men are the same”, “all lesbians are confused”, “all gay men are bi now gay later”, “gay marriage is bad for families”.  Those generalizations may be true in YOUR experience, but not for other Straight Spouses. The Straight Spouse Network builds bridges where possible. Straight Spouses come from many different backgrounds and family situations.

DO NOT USE LANGUAGE THAT DENIGRATES LGBTQ PEOPLE.

AVOID GIVING ADVICE TO STRAIGHT SPOUSES
ie “might as well save yourself the trouble and get divorced now”, or any advice on marriage in general. Your own story is much more powerful. Others will recognize common situations. The only recognized expert on the complete Straight Spouse Experience in our organization is our founder, Amity Pierce Buxton. Ph.D.

DO NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE
Even if you are an attorney, do not give legal advice, unless we have invited you to write your expert opinion on a particular issue.

 POLITICS & RELIGION
Its fine to talk about what you saw and felt at the gay pride parade, good or bad, or what you experienced as the spouse of someone who was part of an ex-gay program, but do not make political endorsements or defame political groups. As a not-for-profit organization, we are prohibited from making political endorsements.

We have taken public positions on same sex marriage and reparative therapies, however, those issues are not the focus of this blog, unless your article is about the personal effect those things may have on you as a Straight Spouse.

Likewise, we’ve published articles about Straight Spouse’s personal experiences with their churches and faith communities, but do not endorse or condemn certain churches or religions, or attempt to convert anyone.

____________________________________

EDITORIALS
If your article is an opinion piece that we have requested, we may publish it with an acknowledgement that opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Straight Spouse Network.

If you have any questions, or to submit an article for consideration, please contact the Straight Spouse Network Communications Director, Janet McMonagle, janet@straightspouse.org

 

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Unreal Reality

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Blog | 7 comments

By Janet McMonagle
Communications Director, Straight Spouse Network

From time to time, the Straight Spouse Network receives requests from media organizations who claim they want to connect with real live straight spouses. They want to tell the stories of our mixed orientation marriages, and feature actual people as part of the story.

These organizations appear to be interested in actually telling our stories. But many times, the story has already been written, and they want to dress it up. The truth of our experiences may or may not survive in their version of our own reality.

To our disappointment, such was the situation when we were contacted by a producer of popular reality show company. The producer had previously established a personal connection with our Facilitator Liaison, Linda Ehle-Callens, who is also our Creative Director/Web manager. Representatives started to informally float the idea for a new docu-series about Straight Spouses. Linda told them that we are so much more than straight wives, and the “club” spans the globe, with men and women of all ages, races, cultures and religions.

Wow. That was REALLY interesting. Representatives of the production company set up a meeting to discuss thenext steps with the Linda, our Executive Director Daphne Callen, and me, the Communications Director.

During our hour-long telephone meeting with the company’s top executives, producers and creative team, we shared our stories and spoke at length of the many situations that straight spouses encounter; divorce, staying married, discovery without disclosure, the increase in spouses of transgender people seeking our support, single parenting, the challenges of raising LGBTQ children, and the often perplexing attitudes of family and friends. They assured us that their idea was not a tawdry “straight wives club” but a more in-depth presentation, such as found in “Born This Way.”

We asked that the Straight Spouse Network be engaged as a consultant, not just a supplier of names and phone numbers or source to research potential cast members. We emphasized that the real reality cannot be scripted by people who have not experienced what we have experienced, and that the Straight Spouse Network input would be needed throughout the project. We also wanted some means of ongoing support for our real people, who would be telling real stories but might encounter the spin of some alternate reality in the name of ratings and social media traffic either during or post production.

In short, we wanted the assurance that our people to be allowed to really tell their real stories. We also told them that any involvement of the Straight Spouse Network would need the involvement of the Board of Directors, and that they would need to consult with our Founder, Amity Buxton, the most renowned expert in the sadly not too populated field of support for straight spouses.

At the end of our meeting, we were promised an outline of their creative concept. A week later we received a one page presentation; a potential pitch to networks that would air the show. It featured a headshot of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, and stock photos of mostly white people in their 30s in fairly standard poses suggesting marital discord.  One featured a gay male couple in bed with the wife sitting on the edge pouting. (Yes, really.) The promotional text emphasized an “ensemble” of straight spouses, more along the lines of a group of people who form a false community in one location, similar to the real housewives shows.

We repeated that our group is diverse and many are a lot older than the models, having been in long term marriages. We also repeated our terms that the Board and Amity would need to be involved, and the Straight Spouse Network would do more than just supply names and numbers.

Suddenly they were not so interested in our help. They wanted the ensemble format, and did not want to cede any creative control. While this is certainly understandable, creativity in the realty show genre can take on an interesting meaning, where alleged reality is semi-scripted or a situation is set up.

Also, they preferred to deal with Linda as a sole contact, and not even involve Amity. Linda was not willing to take this on as a private project since s represents our organization, along with the rest of the Staff and Board.

In the end, we told them we chose not to go forward with supporting the project at as presented. They were not willing to deviate from their regular Reality format. So, yet again, there went our hope for true recognition. Perhaps they will come around again, and it will be workable.  Perhaps not.

We needed to tell you this story because, if you are contacted by anyone from a reality show, know that it didn’t come from us, and you need to tell us about it right away. More importantly, we realize that no one can tell our stories like we ourselves can.

Here’s the true reality of our lives – We ourselves need to tell our stories, and get them to be heard. Listened to. Acknowledged.

Many of us cannot even safely share the truth about our own personal experiences with our friends and family members. This is why the Straight Spouse Network is important. We must keep telling the truth about straight spouse experiences, male and female, married and divorced, around the world.

We do this through our website, and through social media. We do this when contacted by media for quotes and information about straight spouses. We do this when our people are contacted to speak to organizations in their communities about the straight spouse experience and share the support offered by the Straight Spouse Network. We do this when our people attend events sponsored by other organizations in the Rainbow World, such as PFLAG, or the Small Change conference, or the Human Rights Campaign.

WE. Do. This.
This is OUR reality.

In the future, we hope to create a regular podcast on our website which will highlight the experiences and perspectives of straight spouses, letting the world know about the truth of our lives, in our own words. We want to educate people who think we’re crybabies, or that we all hate LGBTQ people.

We’re still developing the programming and process for that, along with the funding. And we even have bigger dreams of one day finding funding to make our own documentaries and short films.

If you have experience with creating podcasts, and would like to volunteer your support, we would love to hear from you. In the meantime, if you have a story to tell, you can contact us about sharing it on our blog. Though I will need to know your true identity, your name need not be published. Our guidelines for submissions are here:

Blog Guest Writers Guidelines

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Straight Spouses – Fake News and the Real Story

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Blog | 25 comments

Straight Spouses – Fake News and the Real Story

It usually starts out like this:

A reporter or writer contacts the Straight Spouse Network.  They want to tell the story of actual real straight spouses.

This makes us really excited!  We want our experiences to be known and acknowledged. We want more people to know about the Straight Spouse Network, so they can know they are not alone when they find that their husband or wife is LGBTQ.extra-extra-paper

Sometimes it’s not all that exciting however.  Sometimes it’s downright infuriating.

We never respond to the people who want to cast a reality show where the big secret will be divulged on camera, and the straight spouse will be “helped” by an “expert” to move beyond their pain – quickly.

Sometimes when we respond, we find that the story has already been written, and all that is needed is a few quotes to back up the story that has already been written.  “Don’t you have any people who stay married?  Can they tell us what that is like?”  Well, yes we do, and yes they can, if they choose.

But sometimes they don’t choose to allow their names to be published. There are many reasons why a straight spouse or a mixed orientation couple might want to tell their story but still maintain some privacy.  It’s not always life in a homophobic hating world.  Sometimes they want to consider the effect on family members, children, their relationship, or their place in a community of having personal and intimate information out there in public.

Sometimes the straight spouse wants to tell their story and speak with a journalist – but wait, we need the permission of your ex spouse to write about it…..or confirm it…..For us, this is often a huge roadblock, along with having to divulge our own identity.

It’s also a deterrent to acknowledging the truth – the real truth – the real news is that our experiences are surprisingly common, and yet there is surprisingly little information available outside of what the Straight Spouse Network is able to supply. Unless of course, it comes with juicy details, or can be used as an affirmation of being out and proud.

denialism1finalSometimes writers have specific criteria.  They may want to speak with wives only, in a certain metro area.  They may want wives who are friendly with their husband’s new partner. They may want only spouses of transgender people.  They may only want to speak with people whose husbands or wives actually came out, and not those whose LGBTQ spouses remain in the closet of denial. They may want a happy ending.

We are always careful about guarding confidentiality and introducing straight spouses to writers.  It can be very painful to tell the whole truth to a writer only to find it has been rewritten to minimize some of the pain. One freelance writer once said to us “Don’t you have anyone I can speak to who isn’t so…. so…angry?  I really don’t want to write anything that might offend gay people.”

Truth must be told.  Anger is part of the straight spouse experience. Grief is  part of the straight spouse experience. Surviving for a long time with complicated emotions, financial, social, and family fallout is part of the experience.

Our experiences are diverse.  They are painful to us, and may be painful to hear about.  But truth is not offensive.  Sometimes truth is painful.

Being forced into a closet is offensive, and many of us are forced there by our LGBTQ spouses and our families.  Being forced into a closet because someone might be offended at your response to being a straight spouse – finding your story is “cleaned up” for publication – being silenced – now THAT is REALLY offensive!

We’ve had a few good mentions in the press, and were encouraged last year by this excellent article. Dear Abby mentions us in her column at least once a year. We are the go-to resource for global information on straight spouses and mixed orientation marriages.

fake-newsAnd in this era of “fake news” and not being able to believe what you read, we will continue to tell the true story. That true story is yours.  And you can share it with us!

If you’d like to contribute your experience to this blog in the form of an article, please see our guidelines here. Yes, you may use your real name, or an alias.  The important thing to us is that straight spouses get to speak and have our say.

Straight spouse truth is shared every day on our public forum, in comments to our blog articles, and in our private online groups. It is peer to peer support like no other. We will continue to speak the truth of our lives.

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World AIDS Day is Today, December 1

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

World AIDS Day is today, December 1. It is a day to remember the 35 million people who have died from AIDS related illnesses, and show solidarity with the 78 million people around the world who are currently infected.  It is also a day to recognize that many people who are infected are unaware that they are HIV positive, as they have never been tested.

AIDS world_logo1Many partners of HIV positive people are unaware that they need to be tested, or that they are at risk for HIV and AIDS.

According to the World Health Organization, testing remains low among groups who are considered to be “key populations” and their partners.

“Testing also remains low among “key populations” and their partners – particularly men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, and people in prisons – who comprise approximately 44% of the 1.9 million new adult HIV infections that occur each year.”  – World Health Organization

Yes.  That includes straight spouses.  We are partners of men who have sex with men. We are partners of  transgender people.

And many of us don’t know that our husbands are having sex with other men.  Many of us are unaware as of yet that our spouses are transgender, or struggling with gender identity.

Whether you are sure or not, whether you have proof or not, whether you have a spouse who you trust or not, you owe it to yourself to take care of yourself.  And if you know your spouse or partner is engaging in high risk behaviors, even if you believe they are taking precautions – you still have to take care of yourself.

Get tested.  HIV is not a death sentence anymore.  AIDS is not curable.  However, it is treatable, and people who have it lead long, productive lives when they have treatment.  But first, you need to be tested.

Getting tested is not as difficult or as scary as it used to be. If you are comfortable with getting tested through your family doctor or gynecologist, do so.  There are testing services offered by hospitals and clinics in many communities.  In some parts of the world,  self-testing is possible, meaning that you can perform the initial test in privacy, and then follow up with a medical professional for further testing if the results indicate that you need a second test. You can read the WHO guidelines on self testing here.

Find a way to get tested.  And do it.  Now.  Early detection is key to treatment having a good outcome. Community health clinics and local health departments offer testing, and many times it is free. Many clinics are opting for self testing, or rapid testing, with just an oral swab or a small needle prick.  Results are often available in as little as 20 minutes, and follow up is available for those whose rapid tests indicate a  person has HIV.

There are also HIV test kits that are sold through pharmacies.

Getting tested doesn’t mean you are unsupportive of your spouse.  It doesn’t mean you don’t trust them.  It means that you know or suspect that they are engaging or could possibly engage in high risk sexual behavior.  It means that you don’t trust the people they may be having sex with.  But most of all, it means that you are taking care of yourself.

Living in someone else’s closet can be dangerous to your health, even fatal.

Don’t wait until you’re sure about your suspicions about your spouse.  Don’t wait until you have “proof.” That day may never come.  But you have many more days ahead of you, and you deserve to live them in good health.

And if you’re wondering about all the powerful emotions you have about even HAVING to get tested – you are not alone.  You’ll find that many straight spouses understand the feeling all too well.

Stay alive.  Be well.

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