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A Rude Awakening

Posted by on Sep 15, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Lately, it seems that you just cannot turn on the TV or go to any sort of public event without encountering previously unheard of rudeness and hostility. First, there were all those angry old folks shouting at Congressional representatives about health care.

Then, there was the rude interruption of the President of the United States by a Congressman during the State of the Union Speech.

And finally, there was the outburst of poor sportsmanship by Serena Williams.

But wait. There’s more.

Several message boards and online commentaries featured the idea that after all this time, we should “just get over” the events of 9/11. Yup. The single worst attack on American soil in history, we’re still at war as a result, but hey, its a new day, just get over it. Can you believe this?

And just last night, Kanye West grabbed the microphone away from a stunned Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, saying that her competitor Beyonce should have won. Poor 19 year old Taylor stood there, at what should have been a moment of personal and professional joy, looking strangely reminiscent of Sissy Spacek in the movie “Carrie”.

Well, Taylor, Mr. President, members of congress, and Ms. Tennis Judge, welcome to our world.

Often when straight spouses try to tell the truth, we are interrupted, sidelined, silenced or mocked. Having people be intensely and unexpectedly rude to us is nothing new. Having our grief minimized and dismissed is also, sadly, somewhat common.

Sometimes the rudeness is from our gay spouse. Somehow, we’re not supposed to think that cruising gay websites, looking at gay pornography, or having sex with someone else of the same sex means someone is actually gay. No, they’re experimenting. They’re on the Down Low. Somehow, the fact that your wife is having sex with a woman is supposed to be HOT and you are supposed to be PERFECTLY UNDERSTANDING and compassionate when she wants to bring her girlfriend home with her – to your home. Laughing, snorting, sneering, leering – we’ve endured it all. Then there’s the rudeness in therapy and counseling. We hear everything from how we can work harder at the marriage, to enduring knowingly raised eyebrows and a broad hint that NOBODY is COMPLETELY straight. And lets not even get into the family members and former friends who ask “Are you SURE? How can you tell?” or who suggest that if you want him to be more of a man, try being more of a woman. You suddenly find a lot of people who think that after a year or so, you should just GET OVER IT, because after all, hey, yawn, gay happens. Your world stopped, theirs kept on turning, so deal with it.

When you come to a Straight Spouse Network face to face support group meeting, we won’t be rude to you. About the rudest thing that should happen is someone might be even angrier than you are and shout louder about it! We won’t tell you to tone it down, you might offend someone. Some of us might tell you that we remember feeling that way too! We might have to pull you off the ceiling and dust you off a bit, but we won’t tell you to tone it down. This is YOUR story. And we understand and share the pain.

We’ll listen. And we’ll help guide you through it, toward a healing path. Maybe we’ll make some new friends, build some bridges, gain some new perspective, new connections. We’ll help you realize that you are NOT alone. After all, when your husband is not home a lot, you find pics of naked man body parts on the computer, there are unexplained charges on the cell phone bill, and he’s suddenly obsessed with working out and removing body hair, we can fully understand how angry you become when counselors, friends, and family tell you well, gee, that doesn’t make him gay, ya know. When your wife is constantly in the company of another woman, calling her, texting her, not being intimate with you, and spending much of her free time at lesbian clubs because you just have to understand, she loves the poetry, well, yes, we understand how that feels too. We’re certainly not going to tell you that its so so hot. We won’t hurt you that way. We’ll help you grow strong in the face of that hurt.

As survivors of unimaginable rudeness and hostility, we have some suggestions for the people who have recently been sideswiped in public by bizarre displays of self centered rudeness.

Congress, keep it real, and get to the deal. Mr. President, keep it cool. Ms. Tennis Judge, let the Tennis Association deal with it, and perhaps Serena can take some etiquette lessons from John McEnroe. And Taylor, you just keep on singing and filming your videos. Maybe you should keep singing that song “Picture to Burn” that makes some straight spouses laugh, and other straight spouses cringe. You know, the one where you sing

So go and tell your friends
That I’m obsessive and crazy,
That’s fine
I’ll tell mine
You’re gay,
And by the way,
I hate that stupid old pickup truck,
You never let me drive…

Go ahead and keep singing that song. And dedicate it to Kanye. We promise, no one will believe you.

After all, who could imagine Kanye West driving a stupid old pickup truck?

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Mad Men and the Closet

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

By Cathy Wos

I am obsessed with the show Mad Men. The writing is superb, the actors are phenomenal and the wardrobe is stunning.

It’s the 1960’s, and while an interesting era to watch, certainly not one I want to live in. The world of a 1960’s housewife was stifling. She was to been seen and not heard. Her husband was the breadwinner and he made all the decisions. If the couple divorced, ostracism was certain. She dealt with her isolation through therapy, cocktails and pills, and not necessarily in that order.

In Mad Men, each character struggles with the role he or she plays in society. It is most apparent with Salvatore Romano: Madison Avenue Advertising Art Director and closeted homosexual. In pre-Stonewall society he has no choice but to remain in the closet and play the part of red-blooded hetero male. In Season 2, we are introduced to Kitty, his adoring wife. Sal has invited a co-worker to dinner and Kitty tries to hold her own in the conversation, only to be cut off.  This goes deeper than the usual friction between husband and wife. The viewers can see that Sal has a crush on him, but Kitty doesn’t. All she knows is that something in this marriage is missing and she doesn’t quite understand.

Approximately 2 million men and women have been in Kitty’s role: straight spouse. Mad Men may be set over 40 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the closet has completely opened. Each day more and more people seek support from the Straight Spouse Network. The difference now is that they have somewhere to turn. The difference now is they do not need to stay in their gay spouse’s closet.

As the season progresses, I hope the writers at Mad Men treat Kitty with respect and empathy. My biggest hope is that characters like Kitty continue to exist only on-screen and not in real life.

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