We haven’t been posting in this blog for a while, as we’ve been undergoing some renovations on our site. But the cyberdust is clearing, so we are back! And we have been busy!
We are very proud to announce that Amity Buxton has published two recent articles for Huffington Post. Amity’s voice is one of the clearest statements of the straight spouse experience, because she focuses on the total experience of the spouse, the family, and on going forward. The path to our own healing and strength is not an easy one, and can be lonely at times. Thanks to Amity for sharing with a wider audience our perspectives and concerns, as well as our ongoing needs and those of our families.
The heterosexual spouses and ex spouses of LGBT people are not the enemies of LGBT people. We are family. All families have disagreements, different ideas. But they are family. This can be difficult to realize at first, but many of us do continue to have some familial relationship with our exes and some of us progress better with healthy distancing . There really isn’t a one size fits all checklist for describing or recognizing a gay spouse, or even for describing our own experiences and perspectives.
So we love it when someone is recognized for getting the word out about all our different experiences. And that includes a recent TV appearance by a straight spouse on the Judge Alex show. For many who saw the program, much of what the straight ex wife said rang very true. She was deceived, and recovered her costs for the wedding. Many who viewed the episode found it validating to hear someone else state what they have been feeling.
There is a whole new awareness of families like ours today, and we are happy to offer help, support, advice, and friendship to men and women who find that they have married or become sexually involved with an LGBT person. Real support at an unreal time is truly what we are about.
Straight spouses are a diverse group. The one thing we can all count on having in common is that we have been married to a gay person. Sometimes we have our experiences in common, sometimes not. This is also true of our paths to recovery and healing.
Some straight spouses experience a desire to avoid all things gay. We may have not been bothered by this before, but now we change the channel when programs featuring LGBT performers or characters are on television. We wonder if the clerk in the store is gay. We wonder if our neighbor’s son is closeted, and if they know. We wonder if we’re the only one on board who is annoyed by the flamingly funny flight attendant who has passengers laughing through a flight. We avoid gay friends – or our relationship changed with them. Somehow we want all things, and all people, who are LGBT to disappear from our personal lives.
Some straight spouses do exactly the opposite. We find a path to healing by getting involved in advocacy for gay rights. We cultivate friendships with LGBT people. We read books about the LGBT experience, about coming out, about sexuality. For some of us, understanding who the gay spouse is and why they have behaved as they did is a big part of our own moving forward.
Both approaches are correct. Some people need the space away from LGBT life and culture to focus on who they are, what they want, and what their new direction is. what their new direction is. Some people need to connect with gay people, if only to assure themselves that they can still relate to them as friends, or to learn more about the experience. This is a reassurance that we did not cause our husbands or wives to be gay, and that gay people who are completely out of the closet do not behave as our spouses did.
One common frustration of straight spouses is that while we struggle to understand the gay experience or avoid it, few people within our general society or the LGBT part of it are attempting to understand us with the same zeal. While the Straight Spouse Network does support LBGT advocacy with two position papers concerning gay marriage and reparative therapies, our prime focus is on support of straight spouses and advocacy for our own needs. Sadly, we are forgotten by those supporting our former spouses in their new life, and are often ignored or marginalized by those who assist families in crisis.
Our own needs include a greater awareness among counseling and healthcare professionals of our perspectives, experiences, and the sheer number of straight spouses in society. Our own needs include recognition of our existence by the general public, and awareness of our need for help and ongoing support. Our own needs include more research on the topics of mixed orientation marriages and the straight spouse experience, across gender, culture, age, and nationality. Our own needs include defusing the homophobia that is targeted at us and our children through no fault of our own.
Our hope is that someday, the experiences of straight spouses will be just as commonly featured in the mainstream media as the experiences of gays, the debate over gay marriage, or the sensationalism of stories of closeted public figures being “caught”. In order to achieve the visibility necessary to reach all who desire our help, the Straight Spouse Network will need the financial and personal support of many people.
We’re here to help. Will you return the favor?