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How Do We Help?

We’ve started the year with a bang.  More people than ever are contacting the Straight Spouse Network for support when they discover that their spouse is LGBTQ.

So what are their stories?

Some are spouses of transgender individuals.  Some are married to people who deny being gay or lesbian.  Some are struggling to understand bisexuality, and determine if this is the truth about their spouse, or another way to admit that their spouse is gay. Some have had a full disclosure from a newly out and proud spouse and are reeling from the shock and pain, while the rest of the world seems oblivious.

More than a third of the people who contact us are men.

Some of the people who contact us want to stay married.  Some aren’t sure.  Some were never married.

Each person who contacts us has a different story. Some are grieving the loss of a marriage.  Some are in complete shock, not just about infidelity, but questioning the reality of the life they have led. Was anything ever true?  Can they ever trust their own judgement again?  Can they ever believe what their spouse tells them?

Some situations are more complicated.  Some straight spouses are surviving abusive situations, and struggling to remain safe while emerging from an abusive spouse’s closet.  They are often told that they cannot tell anyone what they know or the entire world will collapse and it will be their fault.  Or they are ridiculed for knowing, told that it is all their imagination, or they are vicious liars.

They may find that they are further isolated from any source of help – because they are perceived as being troublesome, disturbed, and uncooperative. Or they are told that they just have to go along with their spouses demands – or else they are homophobic haters.

Others remain married, seeking help as individuals and as couples, dealing with the emerging changes in their marriages, and coping with family members’ reactions.

rainbow handsWhat do we do?  We connect people.  We either connect straight spouses online or in face to face support groups where they exist.  We aren’t therapists.  We don’t tell you what to do.  We offer free, confidential peer to peer support from a network of volunteers.

We are also a point of contact for others who want to learn more about straight spouses and mixed orientation marriages. We have spokespersons who can speak up about the straight spouse experience on panels, in print, and to local groups.  we also can serve as points of contact for local journalists, wishing to write about the effect on a family of coming out – or not coming out.

In some places, our volunteer force is thin.  But we do help with online connections for support, and phone calls.

We also build connections.  We are not a political organization.  However, you will sometimes see our local chapters represented at gay pride events, being visible, being out, and being available to help the straight spouses of the people who are celebrating.  Sometimes the LGBTQ people we meet at these events are out to everyone – except their heterosexual husband or wife.

Our founder, Amity Buxton, has worked with thousands of mixed orientation couples over her long career by her estimate.  She has published research on counseling straight spouses, which is available through our website.

If you want more information, or would like to volunteer to help other straight spouses, please contact us here.

8 Comments

  1. I think that there should be a place for the kids in this situation as well. I am actually an “always been bisexual” guy and grew up in this. I had to take krav maga to fight off bullies following a valentine card fiasco which basically put it out there. I don’t socially relate to the out of the closet experience because I was never in there. I also stick with other bisexual people too that click on the same level. We tend to stay ingroup date/relationship-wise in my subgroup.

    My mom very coldly and miserably did all of this over a weekend when she sent us to our aunts and we were hardcore Catholics and came back to rainbow hell. She sent me to camp for sinful kids etc prior and then I was wrong and needed to come out as gay. I got groped and attacked one of the 2 gay older guys who were chicken hawks (pederasts in their 50s) that groped me after she tried to get 7 different gay men to “coax me out of the closet”.

    I found that I was not allowed to express anything negative in any LGBT focused family organization I was part of. I have also had close calls with people online pretending to be bisexual but really turning out straight or gay. So I can relate to some of the experiences. I fully support this page. It bothers me the the “come out” crowd tries to call anything critical, “homophobia”.

    • Hi Matt, I am confused just reading your message. I am sorry you had to go through this confusion – I don’t see why kids should have to decide what they are, I think for some people it takes well into their adult hood to understand and some always consider themselves as bi. As long as you are honest to yourself and the people you get into relationships with that is the important thing. My parents were strict Catholics but always said they would love us whatever, we were always their children. I was more terrified to tell them I was getting divorced that if I had to tell them I was gay. I hope you find your true love.

  2. I’m a gay person. Not married to anyone but recently came out to my parents. They specifically said, “You are no longer our child if you continue to pursue this lifestyle” and “Why not just try and get married ‘properly’ to see if you’ll like it?” all within the guise of heteronormative experiences. For a couple of days, I considered this…maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. THANK YOU for showing the other side. THANK YOU for reaffirming my belief that YOU don’t ever deserve to be treated as a doormat for someone else. I’m so sorry that any of you have had to go through this. My heart breaks for all of you…know that you have LGBT allies out there that do see you and fight for your right to have whatever feelings you want to or need to…it’s much deserved.

    • I wish that all kinds of emotional and sexual relationships between two or more consenting adults (or teenagers) be normalised in all societies, so no one should have to come out as if it was a shame, so no one has to suffer that kind of reaction as you’ve got from your parents, neither anyone has to hide his or her sexual orientation in a relationship that steals somebody else’s life. Because that kind of situation is unfair to everyone.

    • Jen, thank you for being brave and not just doing what your parents said you should do but understanding how devastating this is. I hope your parents come around to see the real wonderful you.

  3. I need help getting over the pain I’m in since my wife told me she’s lesbian.

  4. SSN saved me from the pits of hell

  5. Great description of SSN. The only thing that wasn’t said is that this is a LIFE-SAVING organization, which it truly is. When this odyssey started for me 5 years ago, I don’t know what I would have done without these wonderful folks.

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