World Beard Day is September 3
Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we thought folks might like to know that Saturday, September 3 is World Beard Day.
That’s right. World Beard Day. This is really a thing, around the world.
It’s a day to celebrate people’s beards, in all their variety and distinction. It’s a day to honor those who really grow a nice beard. Long beards. Curly beards. Braided beards. Beards shaved in a shape, in a design.
So we thought we’d take the opportunity to educate the general public about the difference between women and beards.
We have noticed that many of our gay husbands and their friends seem to think that we, the women they married, are their beards. At least, that’s what they call us. And that’s what their friends call us. And that’s what people who want to talk about the agony of a married man coming out of the closet and admitting he’s gay want to call us.
Yes. They call us beards. Any woman who a gay man hides behind to pretend he is straight is called a beard.
For some reason we do not fully understand, people think this is perfectly ok. Yes, the brave soul came out and his wife, the mother of his children was his beard for many years.
And it just doesn’t feel good for a woman to be called a beard. Especially when her feminine attributes are often unappreciated by her closeted husband.
So we wanted to clear up the confusion.
This is a woman.
This is a beard.
This is a bearded lady.
Some women have beards. Not many, but some do. And they are still women. And they are beautiful.
This is the famous poet, Walt Whitman.
He was gay and he had a beard. On his face. He did not have a wife or girlfriend.
Some women become wives. Wives are sexual beings in their own right. They are living human beings whose femininity and female sexuality should be respected and appreciated. They are not facial hair. They cannot just be shaved off your life. And when you try to get rid of them, and they reappear after you have cut them down, it’s not because they are stubble. It’s because they are human, with a human connection. And human emotions. And human resilience.
It really doesn’t feel nice for a woman whose femininity and female sexuality is not appreciated by her closeted gay husband to be called a beard. For a woman who strives to remain feminine and values her female sexuality, being called a beard is downright insulting. It is the negation of all that is feminine about her.
Beards on the other hand, are something that you grow on your face. They are a part of you. Some people grow them better than others. Some people should really never attempt to grow them. But for those who are gifted with a healthy bush of facial hair, there are so many creative things you can do with a beard. It’s part of you. It’s part of your facial expression. It’s part of your choice about your grooming and appearance.
But it’s not a woman. A beard is not a wife.
So on World Beard Day, we have one thought for you.
This is a wife.
This is a beard.
LEARN THE DIFFERENCE.
Oh and if you are gay and not out to your wife – yeah, do that. Grow your own beard if you must, but come out to your wife. We can help.
Frankly My Dear, I am the Victim of Homophobia Too!
By Kristin Kalbli
Recently, author Rick Clemons published an article in the Huffington Post, ‘Frankly My Dear…Gay Men Marry Straight Women! Here’s Why!” 07/19/16
In the article Clemons asserted “if you haven’t lived and breathed sexual orientation confusion, felt gay shame, or laid awake at night wishing that you really could pray the gay away, then honestly, you’ve nothing to contribute to this discussion.” As the ex-wife of a gay man (who was in denial during our marriage, but came out after divorcing his second wife), I know that I do have something to contribute to the discussion; and I have earned my place in the conversation.
It is an utter travesty that homophobia still exists in our culture to such a degree that self-loathing and fear still infect perfectly wonderful people who happen to be LGBT. Recently the Archbishop of Philadelphia said that gay couples should be abstinent. Preachers still promote disproven and insulting “reparative therapy” and advise gay men to marry straight women (as if our lives are suitable sacrifices on the altar of their religious homophobia). This is baldly discriminatory and deeply harmful to LGBT people.
But when my ex-husband chose to marry me (knowing he was gay), he compounded that harm, spreading the trauma and devastation to two lives, rather than confining it to one. I am the victim of homophobia too. Many LGBT people may not want to acknowledge this, thinking it detracts from their very real suffering. I certainly understand that they may not want to share that particular medal in the Oppression Olympics.
I am not invalidating the brutal homophobia that sent people like my ex-husband so deeply into his closet that he had to use me as its door. I am saying that my life was ripped apart by that homophobia too. And I am in pain, and angry. Very, very angry.
My justifiable anger should not be confused with homophobia. I am not, nor have I ever been, homophobic. I have officiated at LGBT weddings, and count LGBT people among my closest colleagues and friends. This shared trauma should make us allies against the injustice of homophobia and its consequences. But often, criticism of behavior like my ex-husband’s (deceiving a straight spouse into marriage) is spun as anti-gay rhetoric. And that is dishonest, dismissive, and divisive.
I unequivocally sympathize with the struggles of LGBT men and women, although I don’t know what it is like to question my orientation. But I do know what it is like to have my own sexuality deeply shamed, rejected and damaged.
Let me explain: I was abjectly and repeatedly sexually rejected by my ex-husband, in the most intimate way a person can be rejected. But I had no idea why. I intuited that he might be gay; I even prayed that he was, because it would have explained the soul crushing rejection. I asked him on different occasions; he always denied it. He left me to guess, to ruminate, to wander in a desert with no answers, to live in an ether of doubt and questioning. And he left me to conclude I was the problem. My body image suffered, my self-esteem collapsed, my soul was damaged, my trust obliterated. I was devastated not to feel desired by my own husband; I was devastated my own husband did not want my touch. My sexuality was a threat to him, a reminder of his own homosexuality, which he was desperately running from. So he had to shame my sexuality and shut it down.
He did the exact thing to me society did to him. And almost a decade post-divorce, I am still recovering from this form of sexual abuse, this gas-lighting, this mind-f**k.
Clemons is correct that LGBTQ people are often cruelly “shamed and belief-poisoned” into hetero-normative marriages, but I take exception to his inclusion of the term “forced.” As the ex-wife of a gay man, I say with confidence that I was forced into a mixed orientation marriage against my will, without my knowledge or consent. I did not know he was gay at the time of our marriage, but he did. I would not have married him had I known the truth. I was forced, not him. My ex-husband was not “forced” to lie to me, he was not “forced” to marry me, and he was not “forced” to stay in the closet. Not by me, at least.
Because of my experience, I question Clemons’ narrative that gay men who marry straight women are merely the victims of cultural and familial homophobia and are entirely without responsibility or culpability for these deceptive marriages and their fallout. The homophobia of our culture, vast and grotesque as it is, is not an excuse to rob someone of agency, truth, and the ability to consent.
It is the definition of entitlement for one person to use another as a beard, a shield, a prop. My ex-husband stole years of my life, depriving me of the love, sexual intimacy and pleasure I might have found with a heterosexual husband. And he did this knowingly. He is responsible for that choice.
In a somewhat cavalier tone, Clemons continues “So the burning question that some of you may still be asking is, ‘Why do gay men marry straight women?’ Frankly My Dear because, sometimes it takes time to live the life your meant to live.”
Ok, fair enough. I get that. But what happens in the meantime to the straight spouses waiting for the truth while their gay spouses have “experiences not yet experienced,” as years of their lives are sacrificed on the altar of their gay spouse’s self-discovery?
Is the straight spouse’s life disposable because it “takes time to live the life you’re meant to live?” I cannot imagine anything so disregarding, so dismissive, and so self-serving.
OH WAIT, yes I can, because I lived it.
Yes, it is true, that “true freedom comes from trusting yourself enough to be yourself,” but let’s encourage each other not to learn that lesson at the expense of someone else’s life.