Much has been made in the news lately of George Alan Rekers’ trip in which he employed a young male prostitute from a gay website to be his companion. Rekers, the founder of the Family Research Council with Dr. James Dobson gave back trouble and difficulty lifting luggage as the reason for hiring a companion. We’re not going to join the pile on of blogs attacking alleged clergy hypocrisy, sneering at Rekers’ powerful and effective campaigns against Prop 8 in California and inclusion of gays and lesbians while personally engaging the services of a whore. It could be that he knew nothing of the young man’s background. It could be that he did not hire him off the website. It could be that this is a set up.
However, as straight spouses, we have heard this reasoning before. Here are some real live responses from real live closeted gay husbands reported by straight wives:
“I don’t know how that picture got there. Yahoo must be putting things on our computer.”
“Now how can you believe I would do something like that? Don’t you have any faith in me? You’re not be a good Christian wife to have no faith in your husband.”
“Yes of course I am spending thousands of dollars a month on the cell phone and sending money to that poor fellow because I am TRYING TO HELP HIM!”
” You don’t know very much about men, do you? We all look at porn. Men, women, who cares. What is the big deal? WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU???”
“I would NEVER expose you to HIV, you don’t have to worry about that!” (translation – I’ve got this under control, it’s not going to happen to me)
“I’m not gay. I’m just tempted to have sex with men”
Yes, it could all be a set up. But so many of us have been set up by husbands and wives who have a “same sex attraction”, who compartmentalize their experience, and who find ways to blame us for the failure of marriage, family life, and family finances. All while posing as solid members, in churches and synagogues that do nothing to minister to straight spouses of openly gay people, or acknowledge that the closeted behavior of denial eviscerates a spouse sexually, spiritually, and emotionally.
Many of our congregations do not minister to us, and in many places, faith communities provide scant comfort when our perspective is not focused on whatever the agenda of that particular denomination is. This is true in the liberal, “affirming” and “inclusive” congregations, as well as in conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical ones. Clergy are not trained in how to manage the ongoing crisis of a mixed orientation marriage or divorce. Often the issue is hidden behind treatment for sex addiction, porn addiction, or ex gay ministries that do little to address the spouse’s experience and challenges.
Many straight spouses, whose faith sustains them, find that they must
leave their home congregation and look elsewhere for the affirmation and spiritual growth that this crisis demands.
So yes, Reverend Rekers could have been set up by someone wanting to discredit his politics. But for any straight spouse of a gay or lesbian living comfortably in a stained glass closet, please know that the Straight Spouse Network is here for you. We are confidential, non sectarian, and we won’t tell you what to do. We will listen.
There are plenty of religious organizations that advocate for the rights of gays and lesbians. There are plenty of religious organizations that advocate for the exclusivity of male female marriages. There are plenty of political offshoots of faith groups on both sides of Prop 8.
There are no ministries to straight spouses. Clergy who wish to support us have scant resources. For those faith communities who are interested in reaching out to straight spouses, the Straight Spouse Network can be an invaluable resource of information and perspective about this devastating experience.
The Haggards are back, and Oprah’s got ’em!
Gayle Haggard is on a publicity tour for her new book “Why I Stayed“. It’s an interesting perspective on remaining married after same sex infidelity and betrayal. It is very clear that a major factor in this decision is that Gayle genuinely loves her husband, Ted Haggard – and he loves her right back! That alone is a story that many straight spouses never get to live. Those who remain in mixed orientation monogamous marriages know that love, trust, and communication are paramount in importance – and have to be mutual.
Gayle made an appearance on Oprah, with Ted, and carried herself very well with Oprah’s proclaimed “non judgemental” interview. Oprah appeared incredulous that Gayle still loves her husband! This is not so incredible to those who remain in long term mixed orientation marriages. Oprahs questions were probing, insightful, and brought out a lot of good points about the entire experience. It was a great interview.
However, Oprah lost us on one train of thought:
“Would this have been the same were the infidelities with women? I wonder if yeah, I just wonder, if and I’ve interviewed other women who found out their husbands were in relationships with men, who found out their husbands were gay, for some women it’s easier if the other man is gay. ….if its another man, there’s nothing you can do about that…for some women it makes it easier because you think well no matter what I would have done, well, you know, I’m not gonna be a guy!”
In our experience, it’s unusual for a straight woman to find infidelity with a gay husband to be preferable to infidelity with another woman, or even “the same”. The realization that “it’s not me” does not come quickly for everyone, especially when you may not be able to disclose the reason for divorce, or confide in friends and family members. As Gayle says, “It’s different”. Women who have attended our face to face meetings across the world and right there in Oprah’s home town, Chicago, say the same thing. In a private, confidential, peer to peer setting, they share the stories of deception, betrayal, and the unique shredding of their own sexual identity that often comes with marriage to a closeted gay husband. For many women, the rejection of their female body and passive aggressive denigration of everything about them by their closeted gay husband comes before any actual infidelity. After discovery or disclosure, there can be a sense of relief that “it’s not me”, but they are left to rebuild who “me” is after so much tearing apart.
Gayle is telling her story, and emphasizes that it is hers and no one elses. We applaud her for that, as we all have different experiences with our spouses and families. Her story will share some common threads with many.
If Oprah were to interview other straight spouses, she would gain an understanding for herself and to her audience of the many different experiences and perspective concerning the experience of straight spouses, from “honey I’m gay” to “no, I’m not gay, you are crazy” to “well, you just have to let me be me and tolerate my same sex relationships” to “Im not gay, I just like having sexual encounters with men”.
The Straight Spouse Network is the pre eminent peer to peer support group for the heterosexual husbands and wives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. There is an active face to face support group right there in Oprah’s back yard. We encourage her to keep on interviewing women whose husbands are in relationships with men, and men whose wives are in relationships with women.
And Oprah, the next time you interview one of us, a straight spouse like Gayle or Dina, we’d appreciate it if you would let your large audience know that yes, there’s a support group for that – a big one, which spans the globe!