When the promotions for Oprah this week showed that she was interviewing a lesbian, many straight spouses probably said “what again”? Programs about sexuality are nothing new for Oprah. Her program this week “Living without Labels” featured a woman who had been married, had daughters, and had a late in life realization that she is gay. In fact, her daughters told her she was a lesbian, noting how she looked at women. Several other women and a sex therapist were interviewed. The article in O, The Oprah Magazine “She’s So Fine” was a point of reference for the discussion.
What was unusual about this program was that the daughters gave an extended interview about what the effect was on them and the family. Now grown women, they appear to still be very emotional when talking about it. They spoke of their anger when their mom finally came out, and of their anguish over the divorce. They spoke of the pain in the entire family. But they came to see that their mom was happier.
It was a good, informative program. Many of the women featured on the show said things that are all too familiar to straight husbands who come to the Straight Spouse Network for support. “I’m not a lesbian, I fell in love with the person”. The only husband of a lesbian featured on Oprah within recent memory has himself been gay. The absence of the straight husband’s perspective on any of the programs about fluid sexuality and married people is quite noticeable, as is the lack of mentioning the Straight Spouse Network as a resource of support for families, including straight husbands.
Oprah appeared surprised that not everyone who has a sexual attraction to the same sex “always knew they were gay”. Perhaps if she spoke to the men and women who are part of the Straight Spouse Network, she would be surprised to learn that few of us are surprised by anything that was on the program.
For some men, it may come as a surprise that it still hurts to hear the same things that were said over and over in their marriages now touted as a celebrated aspect of female sexuality.