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When Your Spouse Says “That Doesn’t Mean I’m Gay”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in Blog | 25 comments

You’ve made the discovery that your husband is having sex with other men, or your wife is in a sexual relationship with another woman. You found the phone and text messages, the emails, the Craigslist ads. The computer browser cache has not been cleared and you went in to clear the history and there were all these same sex porn sites, or websites about questioning sexual orientation. And you confront your spouse – you ask the question – “Are you gay?”

And they tell you no.

They don’t deny what you found, but they tell you “That doesn’t mean I’m gay.”

They tell you about sexual fluidity and the Kinsey Scale.

They tell you about experts who agree that no one is truly heterosexual.

They show you online articles and videos from experts proclaiming “just because your husband has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay” and expect you to be relieved and satisfied with the answer.

They show you articles and videos about female sexual fluidity and women’s relationships. About heterosexual women responding to erotic images of women.

You’re not convinced. After all, you’re not gay, and one spouse of the opposite sex is enough for you. In fact you’d never dream of having sex with someone of your own gender.

It is not ok with you that your spouse seeks sex outside your marriage, so you and your spouse go to counseling.

And the counselor says – why yes. Just because he has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay. Just because she has sex with women doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. You get a kindly explanation to help you understand about your spouse’s journey of sexual discovery. You are told that when your husband denies being gay, he’s not lying. He really doesn’t think he is gay. You are told that your wife is doing something perfectly normal for her.

And you think…soooo…..why can’t they just tell me the truth? What is this?

Sometimes when it comes to your sexuality, and the impact of this discovery on you, there is seldom any acknowledgement or affirmation. You have to go to counseling for yourself. And you wonder – how did I miss this? The entire world is gay except me?

First of all, be assured that you are not alone and your feelings and questions are entirely normal. Being angry, hurt, having questions, wanting to know the truth – this is human, not homophobic. This is about you and your relationship with your spouse. Your feelings and perceptions matter. This is happening to you as well as your spouse.

So it’s no surprise to straight spouses that a reassuring article by an expert proclaiming “no ladies, just because your husband has sex with men doesn’t mean he’s gay” is hardly reassuring. Many women find images of gay men having sex to not be attractive at all – there’s nothing for women to relate to in those images. For some, the awareness that their husband has sex with men is a distinct turn off.

For many heterosexual men, even though the porn industry is full of glamorized depictions of women together, the idea of their wife having sex with another woman is not attractive. It’s excluding them from an important part of their wife’s life, a part that has nothing to do with them – but they often are called upon to understand.

For many straight spouses, marriage is about two people, not three or four. Some do have open relationships, but these take a great deal of communication and effort on both sides. Some mourn the loss of a sexual relationship that affirms the life a couple shares together. For them, it isn’t just about being sex starved or “horny.” It’s about sharing sexuality fully with a partner who can reciprocate and also enjoy a fulfilling, satisfying, and beautiful sexual relationship without going outside the marriage to someone else who is the same gender.

The perspectives and needs of straight spouses are often overlooked in counseling, and among family and friends who try to help. Grief and anger can last a long time, especially when a straight spouse is told that their true feelings are offensive or inappropriate. After all, “you ought to be happy for your husband/wife if you really love them.” And don’t forget “how difficult it is for gay people and how brave they are.” That’s all well and good, you think, but what about me?

The Straight Spouse Network staff and volunteers understand and affirm heterosexual spouses and partners of LGBTQ people in a variety of circumstances. Some remain married, most don’t. Some have spouses who come out to them in complete honesty; others have spouses who deny the truth, and twist the story so that it appears that the straight one is the problem for not accepting them. We are hear to listen. We are here to help you find the support you are looking for.

We’re not denying that straight spouses can contribute to problems in a marriage; but in the face of profound denial of the truth and sexual incompatibility, gaslighting, and often blame for so many problems (“this wouldn’t have been so bad if you were more understanding, flexible, didn’t overreact to everything, etc”) it is difficult to really own the faults that are necessary for us to recognize as we begin to heal.

Our stories as we move forward into a new life we never expected are often stories of courage, strength, heroism, and inspiration. They are seldom told or recognized. Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we recognize and affirm each other, and strive to be the voice of the truth of our journeys, no matter how inconvenient.

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Honey I Think I’m a Little Gay

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

This past week, actor James Franco has attracted a storm of attention on social media for his statement that in his personal life he is straight, but in his professional life he is “a little gay”.  Franco was commenting on playing the role of a gay man in the films “I Am Michael” and “Wild Horses”, and his newest role in “King Cobra.”

Honey I Think I'm a Little Gay

James Franco attends a signing for his new book “Straight James/Gay James” at Book Soup on March 6, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

The phrase “a little gay” might be a shocker to the general public, but it is no shock to straight spouses.  Many of us have heard it before. We’ve heard it as part of a lie, a belief that some of our spouses have had that it is better to tell us the truth in small pieces, than just admit “Honey I think I’m gay.”

If they admit it at all. Some never will.

For many of our spouses, saying they are “a little gay” conveys an expectation that since they aren’t TOTALLY gay we should just deal with it, and if there is a problem it is our fault.

We are the last people to ever define who someone else is in terms of their sexual identity.  Heck, some of us have been accused of MAKING our spouses gay, as if we had that power, or of being gay ourselves and thus “obsessed” with accusing our spouses. When our husbands or wives come to us with the truth about  their sexuality, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we are devastated.  But at least we know. We can make choices for moving ahead in our own lives, and decide if we want to stay married, pursue an “open marriage” or get a divorce.  We can also begin to put the pieces of our own shattered self image back together.

For many of us, a declaration of being “a little gay” is a lie that is intended to erase a bigger lie. Being “a little gay” hints at bisexuality, but doesn’t actually admit it. Sometimes a declaration of being “a little gay” is accompanied with the statement that EVERYONE is “a little gay” and that WE are the liars for not admitting that in our heterosexuality. Consequently, when something goes wrong in the relationship, or if we react negatively, it is seen as being our fault. Straight spouses are certainly not without our faults, but we don’t have the option of truly examining how they affect a relationship if the other person in the relationship is lying to themselves and to us about their sexual preference.

Some of us have also seen over the years that our spouses who claim to be “a little gay” become “a lot more gay” as time goes on.

James Franco’s personal sexuality is his own business.  He should realize, if he doesn’t already, that saying he’s “a little gay” triggers misgivings in women who have experienced deception from a gay or bisexual lover, or who are children of mixed orientation marriages. His personal honesty in his private life is his business.  We do have some questions, however, for him and for other actors who play characters that are not like them.

If playing a gay character can make Franco realize he’s “a little gay”, can playing a straight character make a gay actor realize he’s “a little straight”?

Both Tom Hanks and Tom Selleck have played gay characters and yet they live lives as heterosexual men.  Did playing those roles make them “a little gay”? Or did playing those roles make them reach into all the human qualities that they understand and can interpret, making them great actors?

And just who is the real Walton Goggins anyway?  He’s played a transsexual (Venus on Sons of Anarchy), a tough and tender outlaw who is obsessed with a woman (Boyd Crowder on Justified) and a deranged fight club trainer who tortures enslaved fighters (Django Unchained). Is he a little trans?  Or a little deranged? Or a little obsessed? Or is he a really talented actor who brings great depth and understanding to complicated characters?

For that matter, going back to a time when gay actors could not be their true selves in private life, did playing straight men who loved and charmed the ladies make Rock Hudson “a little straight” in his private life? What about Robert Reed, the iconic husband and father on The Brady Bunch?  Did playing the perfect husband make him “a little straight”?

Susan Olsen played Cindy Brady, the youngest daughter on the popular television series which ran from 1969-1974. “Bob was a family man,”  she said on her Facebook page in 2013.”Had he been allowed to form a relationship with another man, he would have been the best husband ever and might still be alive.”

Apparently he brought those qualities to his role as Mike Brady, a beloved heterosexual husband and father.  However, his talent and performance did not make him “a little straight” in his very private personal life.

We live in an era when definitions of gender and sexuality are sometimes perceived as being fluid. Lets just make sure that all that fluid doesn’t wash away the necessity for honesty in relationships and being true to one’s self.

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Bisexuality is Real

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

Bisexuality. It is Real

Some organizations explicitly state that there is no such thing as bisexuality. The Straight Spouse Network is not one of them. Since 1992, the Straight Spouse Network has had among its core beliefs that bisexuality does exist. Our Support Groups include many Straight Spouses of bisexual partners.

When you first suspect or find out your spouse is bi, it is shocking and disorienting. You do not need to make any instant decisions. Give yourself time. Talk to us. No matter what you decide to do, you’ll get all the support and understanding you need with the Straight Spouse Network’s support groups, Support Contacts and other resources we’ll provide to you.

Explaining Bisexuality

Bisexuality is a complicated orientation. Like all sexual orientations, bisexuality is multidimensional; individuals changes over time, and their bisexual orientation is determined by their own self-identification, not by outsiders’ labels. While bisexuals are attracted to both sexes, it’s rarely a 50/50 balance. They usually lean more toward one sex than the other.

When a bisexual spouse comes out, the Straight Spouse has to deal with the unknown same-sex attraction that exists alongside the known opposite-sex attraction. This creates cognitive dissonance as well as sexual confusion. As Straight Spouse Network’s founder Amity Buxton stated in The Journal of Bisexuality, “one has to break through the ‘either/or’ binary perspective by which most of us tend to look at the world, and instead look at life through a ‘both/and’ lens”. One Straight Spouse explained their husband’s bisexuality by saying, “he does not see gender”; a small statement which goes a long way in helping us understand bisexual persons.

Adding to the confusion, there are times when a spouse will come out as bisexual and later tell their Straight Spouse that they are gay. The reason for this could be that at the time of coming out, they did not realize where they were on the preference balance. Some believe that at times someone will tell their Straight Spouse that they’re bisexual to ease the shock of their coming out.

What will you do?

When a true bisexual marries a straight person without telling them about their sexual orientation, and then comes out, there are options. Staying together is not for everyone. For some bi/straight couples, marriage may have a better chance of continuing than a gay/lesbian-straight marriage. Amity Buxton’s research and group member’s experiences have shown that post-disclosure spouses can create unique strategies for maintaining their marriages. This may involve a great deal of patience, creativity and open-mindedness, but it can work. The bond bi/straight couples form during the process of redefining their relationship is often stronger than that of many heterosexual couples. Some Straight Spouses are not suited for such a challenge, and should do what is best for their own future and peace of mind. But it’s good to know there are options and that you have a support system within the Straight Spouse Network to help you explore them.

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