OK, so by now you’ve heard the news. 62 year old actress Meredith Baxter has announced that after all this time, she now knows she is gay. She decided to go public with this before the National Enquirer beat her to it, and after Perez Hilton commented about her being seen with her lesbian lover in his blog (in the category “gay gay gay”).
Well, better late than never. Honesty is the best policy.
In an interview on the Today Show with Matt Lauer, Baxter said “”I am a lesbian and it was a later-in-life recognition. Some people would say, well, you’re living a lie and, you know, the truth is – not at all. This has only been for the past seven years.”
She ‘s been dating her current girlfriend for FOUR YEARS. And yet, she didn’t know she was gay.
No, seriously, we believe that, because we straight spouses hear that kind of thing all the time.
“I’m only a little gay.” “Well, all people are a LITTLE gay you know,and you are weird and narrow minded if you don’t think so”. “Im learning about myself”. “I’m exploring my sexuality”. Heck, some straight women have even had their husbands say “Honey, I admit it. I’m a pervert. I have sex with men. But I’m not gay. And I’m not sure I’m bi.”
So we think it is great that at long last, Meredith has the self awareness to recognize the truth about herself. But we don’t buy into the idea that she wasn’t living a lie. Even if she swings both ways, denying this about herself for so many years amounts to a lie, especially in the context of what she has said about her three marriages:
“I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships. I assumed I was a bad picker…I assumed there were problems with the people I chose. It never occurred to me to think, oh, [the problem is] me,” she said.
We’ve heard that too, and we’re glad Meredith actually said it. It’s refreshing. The usual pattern for many of us is to discover that our spouse is gay, and then be blamed for all the problems in the marriage ANYWAY, because it wouldn’t have worked ANYWAY.
No matter what a straight spouse does in a marriage, a gay spouse is seldom going to be fully satisfied, because we cannot be the people they need to love. They may love us, we may love them, but we just don’t have the right physical and emotional makeup to satisfy what they want and need. Those of us who remain married know that these relationships require complete honesty and more than a little communication, and give and take.
Baxter was married three times. Her first marriage in 1966 to Robert Lewis Bush lasted five years. Her second husband, actor David Birney is probably the best known of her exes: They starred together in the 1972 situation comedy “Bridget Loves Bernie”, and both had successful film and television careers. She married him in 1974, and the marriage ended in 1989. She married her third husband, Michael Blodgett, in 1995 and they divorced in 2000. She has five children from the first two marriages, all adults now.
Perhaps those men have moved on with their lives, perhaps not. For any man who is now facing a “late in life lesbian” experience with his wife, please know that there is a support group here at the Straight Spouse Network for you, and there are PLENTY of men who have experienced this seemingly new phenomenon, and who are experiencing it now. So many straight spouses find we have common experiences in our marriages, even if we are all very different people. All contact is confidential,whether on line, on the phone, or in a private face to face meeting.
Of course, Meredith will be applauded for coming out, and finally being honest with herself and with her family. Few people will care about the effect of her closeted sexuality on her three marriages to three very different men. Here at the Straight Spouse Network, we care. We continue to care, whether the media is paying attention or not. We ACTUALLY GET IT – THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE – including the conclusions people draw about us, our sexuality, and our alleged shortcomings. We support one another, whether the discovery/disclosure happened yesterday or 20 years ago. The mutual support is important to our own healing, and our ability to help straight spouses of both sexes and all racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds recognize that they are not alone – far from it!
Meredith concluded her interview on the Today show by recognizing that “this is a political act” and by coming out, she’s the “lesbian you know”, and perhaps you won’t vote to take away rights from gay people. We only wish that the political dialogue included our voices as well, about the effect of living long term in marriages to gay people who are closeted, even to themselves.
Still, Meredith Baxter’s coming out is a positive step. Perhaps now, as Elyse Keaton might have said “the personal is political”.