“We’re all victims, both the gay spouse and the straight spouse…” 3 Women Share Their Struggles With Husbands Who Are Gay

“We’re all victims, both the gay spouse and the straight spouse…” 3 Women Share Their Struggles With Husbands Who Are Gay

Originally published on huffingtonpost.com

The hit Netflix original series, Grace and Frankie, tells the story of two decades-married women who find out their spouses are gay, with a healthy dose of Hollywood humor. But in real life, for an older couple, a spouse coming out can cause heartbreak that’s no laughing matter, for everyone involved.

“We’re all victims, both the gay spouse and straight spouse are victims,” Amity Pierce Buxton told The Huffington Post in an interview. Pierce Buxton founded the Straight Spouse Network in 1986, after her own husband of 25 years came out, to help other couples going through the same issues.

When the people involved are middle-aged or even older, the situation brings about its own unique challenges.

“When you’re older, there’s less time to rebuild a new life,” she says. In her experience, a third of couples split immediately and angrily, a third try to divorce amicably and another third try to make it work.

The revelation can be particularly difficult for older women who imagined a peaceful retirement, spending their golden years alongside their partner, enjoying visits from grandchildren. Along with questions of self-worth, many older women who may have put their careers on hold to raise children also could have financial concerns, Kimberly Brooks Mazella, a Virginia-based psychotherapist, told The Huffington Post.

That said, most of the anger that arises in these situations isn’t directed at the gay spouses’ sexuality.

“Many, including myself, are LGBT allies and strong supporters of gay rights,” Brooks Mazella said. “The anger that straight spouses feel is at having been used and deceived, especially when it goes on for years. I suspect the angriest ones fall in those [situations when] spouses did not come clean on their own.”

Indeed, in research she’s conducted on her own, she believes that two-thirds of gay spouses don’t come out on their own. Many are confronted by the straight spouse on a basis of infidelity or the discovery of other clues, like private communications or pornography.

Often times, experts say, the gay spouse doesn’t come out to their straight spouse because of an external factor like religious beliefs, societal restraints or even because of a true love and strong friendship with their other half.

“Living a closeted life is understandable. However, once you marry, then you’re bringing an unsuspecting woman into the closet with you,” Brooks Mazella said.

Some even believe that being in a heterosexual relationship will restrain their homosexual impulses. When that theory doesn’t work, they’re unable to live fulfilling, authentic lives and can be as devastated as their straight spouses.

“We’ve got to find ways to educate people that just being LGBTQ is not immoral or sick and that therefore there will be no more mixed orientation marriage … so that this doesn’t happen,” Pierce Buxton said. “No more closeted marriages.”

To understand more about what occurs in these situations, three women shared their own personal experiences with The Huffington Post. Here are their stories.

*

AMITY

“We had two children. It was just a wonderful marriage, but toward the end he got distant. He’d taken early retirement and was traveling and doing things alone. I didn’t think much of it.

He had left and then he took me out for lunch the following year and he made some accusation that I was frigid and I got livid. Later, he was in the hospital for some minor surgery and I went to visit him while he was under influence of anesthesia. He said, ‘I have something to tell you. I’m gay.’ I burst out laughing and said, ‘Are we ever in a soap opera?’

He had a lover who he had jilted to marry me, because he was a Catholic. But he was totally faithful to me during our marriage.

There’s shock then disbelief. Then it takes a little time to face the reality. You ask yourself, What does this mean? Wasn’t I sexy enough? Didn’t I know the right lovemaking technique? You just wonder, ‘If my life has been involved in someone else’s lie, then who am I? My whole belief system went askew.

It was rather obvious, it was like a prison for him. He couldn’t be who he was. One day he told me, “I don’t think I can go on anymore.’ I said, ‘Of course you can!’ The next day he took his own life. Life was too much for him. He was a great person and I absolutely sobbed. I think he was depressed because [for] his whole life he wasn’t able to be himself. Gay men go through the same issues, with their sexuality and identity. The kids do too. All the people involved go through the same issues.”

*

SUSAN

“About 10 years into our marriage, I thought he was having an affair with a woman. I’d heard him talking on the phone to someone about dancing at a bar, and then somehow I figured out he was speaking to a man. One night on vacation we were drinking probably a little too much and I asked him about it, his response to me was ‘I’ve always found men attractive.’

I questioned him again over the next few years and he would just get angry, so I stopped, but it was always in the back of my head. It was at that point that I started watching him, and putting the clues together, but it was close to 10 more years before I had the courage to end my marriage.

By 2015, things got pretty ugly. He was coming to terms with his sexuality and I was at the end of the puzzle. I got the courage to ask the question, ‘Did you know before you married me that you were gay?’ and he answered yes. So at that moment and for a long while after that I had very mixed emotions about this truth. There was a huge part of me that was angry and hated him, but at the same time there was just as huge a part of me that felt sad for him. I remember telling him had he just been honest with me we could have been the best of friends. I told him I wanted out.

The revelation of his sexuality has certainly had an impact on my self esteem. If I could live with someone for 20 years and not really know them then what is wrong with me? It has me fearful of meeting someone or being intimate with someone. But on the flip side, am I such an accepting person? Do I have no bias or prejudice? Those, to me, are positive traits, so this journey has made me look at myself from that perspective.

I tell my children, in a perfect world, we could all spend holidays together, I’m just not 100 percent there yet.

I’m not really sure what the experience has been like for him. In my opinion he only has one foot out of the closet. He doesn’t say he is gay, he tells people that he is interested in men. It’s as if he is afraid to say the word, so my guess is that it’s been difficult for him.”

*

JUDITH

”Mine was a very different kind of experience from many people’s. I knew before I married him, but I was so drawn to him, my soulmate. One day before we married, Dick said, ‘I have something to tell you. If it weren’t for you I’d be homosexual.’ It was 1966. Gay didn’t exist. In my world, I didn’t know anyone who was gay. My feeling was, this is like a neuroses. He said yes, in part. He’d been in therapy and I asked him if he couldn’t just get more therapy.

He asked me to marry him and we got married. I didn’t know that he was suffering. I didn’t know that he was thinking about men or fantasizing. We just didn’t speak about it. Things were rocky.

When he told me, on the one hand, I was flattened. I felt this terrible sense of loss. On the other hand, I was a feminist and I really supported gay liberation, which was just beginning. I did say to him, ‘I admire your courage.’

If he had slept with a woman, I would have been devastated. That would have dislodged me from my place with him. I was still the only woman in his life. That was also comforting. It was like any breakup with someone you deeply love, it was never going to be the same.

He was the most important person in my life, and remained so, until I had my daughter. It was never a problem with my husband until Dick died in 1986 from AIDS. My husband was surprised by my grief. I’ve never bonded with anyone that way. My whole youth and my young enthusiasm were bound with him. You can’t get that back.

(You can read Judith’s full story HERE.)

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34 Comments

  1. Mandy
    August 31, 07:23 Reply

    There are oftentimes I wish this blog was more mainstream, that more people knew about it and so are more willing to share their own sides of the narrative. That way, hopefully we’d have Nigerian women, wives who discovered they married gay men, tell us their own side of the story.

    • Dubem
      August 31, 07:32 Reply

      the MGM themselves who read the blog aren’t sharing their own narrative.

      • Delle
        August 31, 11:08 Reply

        No MGM or intending MGM would even comment on this post. NONE!

        I laugh because throwing sentiments away, there really are no cogent premises to win this argument. None whatsoever.

    • ambivalentone
      August 31, 09:03 Reply

      I am sure there are pockets of such stories online here and there. They (husbands) have perfected the art of lying over time, glazing their infidelities or the wives are very oblivious or know but ‘been drawn into the closet’ and share in the shame of being homosexual (married to one actually). The stories I have read and the comments that followed were heartbreaking.

      • Pink Panther
        August 31, 09:19 Reply

        Any Nigerian narrative? If there are, kindly refer the links to me.

        • ambivalentone
          August 31, 09:41 Reply

          I remember I @ u one narrative with my defunct twitter acct one time. I will be on the lookout for more tho as I can never remember from off my head where I see/saw/happened on them.

  2. ambivalentone
    August 31, 08:32 Reply

    LMAO. I laughed at Judith’s level of conditioning and open mindedness sha. You’d av been devasted it was a woman but not a man ur husby was cheating on u with? How…different.

    • Delle
      August 31, 11:05 Reply

      I totally get her trying to sew an apparel with the little positivity she sieved out of the situation. Technically, she’s the only female in his life. That should count for something…at least.

  3. Mitch
    August 31, 10:13 Reply

    Wow! The amount of pain these straight partners feel is heart rending. I wish that this message gets to the younger ones out there, the Lesbians and Gay men who plan on getting married to straight spouses. They need to understand that their actions would have consequences, devastating ones at that, and that they don’t have the right to make any other person’s life hell with their actions.

  4. Delle
    August 31, 11:03 Reply

    “Some even believe that being in a heterosexual relationship will restrain their homosexual impulses. When that theory doesn’t work, they’re unable to live fulfilling, authentic lives and can be as devastated as their straight spouses.”

    It never does. Never.

    I’m just so annoyed and at the same time sympathetic towards the women that are being drawn into the world of deceit and unknown penury. I don’t think any woman deserves to get married to a gay man, no one deserves such wickedness.

  5. Brian Collins
    August 31, 12:14 Reply

    Funny that I decided to visit KD today and see this.
    My bisexual ex boyfriend, who I absolutely love and did not exactly breakup with, is getting married in three weeks. He didn’t tell me until a week ago and I was crushed. Can’t really explain why, but I really was. And I even shed a tear or two. Thing is, he is marrying the girl for all the wrong reasons and already sounds miserable at the the thought of going through with it. But he is still going ahead with the whole thing. It actually inspired a four part series I would like to write and have posted on KD.
    I hope Pinky will want it.

    • Truth
      August 31, 14:13 Reply

      Isn’t he supposed to be your role model?

    • Delle
      August 31, 15:10 Reply

      You were crushed? What did you expect? That a Nigerian bisexual man would go for you over his supposed girlfriend? WAKE UP, silly! *snaps fingers in your face*

      Yours is a little better though. At least, he swings both ways. The gay ones on the other hand? Can’t just understand…

      • IBK
        August 31, 20:38 Reply

        Experiencing what you foresaw doesn’t always make it less heart rendering.

    • ambivalentone
      August 31, 15:31 Reply

      Cry for what na? Abeg, where is the venue of the wedding reception? I hope its in Ife. I can’t seem to get enough of the food of deception since my initial taste.

    • Pink Panther
      August 31, 17:22 Reply

      Uh, Brian, we can’t know if Pinky will want it until Pinky sees it, can we?

  6. Kennedy
    August 31, 13:24 Reply

    …. “No MGM or Intending MGM will comment on this post. NONE”…. The way people jump into conclusion shaaa…. Na em u no go represent naija 4 Olympics!

    • pete
      August 31, 13:28 Reply

      Go to the previous post & see them tying themselves in a knot over somebody doing the same thing they do i.e stereotyping & jumping into conclusion

      • Truth
        August 31, 14:14 Reply

        finally, someone to bail the MGMSs out ? ? ?

        • Delle
          August 31, 15:17 Reply

          And he didn’t. He just played the victim card.

          @Olympian…until they comment and vindicate themselves, I don’t see how that’s a hasty conclusion.

      • ambivalentone
        August 31, 21:10 Reply

        I’m sure u r itching to enlighten us about our being wrong in stereotyping u. Y’all don’t get married AND/OR have side bobos that ur wives know/don’t know about in form.of that close uncle??? Gurl pls.

  7. wiffey
    August 31, 13:45 Reply

    Okay welcome to Nigeria where every gay man has a dream of marrying a beautiful lady and then bring her into a life of untold misery, isolation and inferiority with that stupid mentality of “I’ll stop being gay when I marry”.

    Note to self: never be like them, either marry a man who is the love of your life (yes here in Nigeria) or remain single and be a dad to 2 kids (gotten by IVF, adoption or from a payed off mum) and remain in your truth.

  8. Peak
    August 31, 16:37 Reply

    Someone sent me the link of this publication yesterday. After reading and digesting the main content and some of the comments that followed, I was left feeling some type of way, with 2 divergent views on the subject.

    A part of me couldn’t help but to be sentimental and sympathetic to the women involved. Another part of me couldn’t help but see things from a practical and objective angle.

    Like I told someone, this hinges MORE on INFIDELITY than the DL issues. Anyone who has decided to build a life long partnership with well over 2decades of investments, can easily feel any of these emotions. Before you fly off ur handles, pls think back if u didn’t feel any of these psychological lows, questioned ur worth, when someone you care about stepped out on u, outrightly rejected you, made u feel insignificant, or simply led u to believe you meant something to him/her or had a chance with them. A good number of us have either caused this kind of pain or felt it.

    People get hurt. It’s how life works. Nothing should justify someone consciously taking the time to hurt another, but that is the circule we live in. We have all hurt people and got hurt in return, then gone on to justify it with all kinds of weird and twisted stories. It easy to judge another when we have done the same in varing degrees and different situations.
    No one decided to get into a relationship, for the sake of fulfilling the other party. Your sleeping or dating someone was/is primarily borne out of our own selfish need of the other person and not for their own personal gain or benefit.

    The only difference between you and these women, is that they have invested way more than the average person. What separates you from these men is that you are young, single and floating on the clouds of ur youth. A good number of us are no different from these men. We have been deceitful not just 2 our lover, but our friends. Please note that one of the main crime here is DECEIT, and if i am to go with my experience witn most Gay/Bi people, they blossom and bloom on a bed of lies and deceit.

    P.S This is in no way justifying the suffering of these women, down playing their sufferings, but an attempt to look at things without a sentimentally blurred vision.

    • Pink Panther
      August 31, 17:25 Reply

      Well said, Peak. I see you toeing that line very carefully and masterfully. 🙂

    • Peak
      August 31, 17:37 Reply

      PP sadly I am not very proud of my spin on the issue, but shit just happens and it’s called life.
      “God forbid, god forbid, bad thing no go happen 2 me”, like we like to do in this part of the world with snapping of the fingers for emphasis. You then wonder, who like bad thing since u don reject am from ur side.

      Perhaps its time to stare the truth down in the face and come up with ways to curb the trend of gay men marrying for deceitful purposes. Then again straight people marry for innumerable deceitful purposes. But since this is a gay blog and we have no business discussing straight people, I go rest.

    • ambivalentone
      August 31, 19:59 Reply

      SMH. What is this one saying? Everywhere and yet NOWHERE.

    • IBK
      August 31, 20:34 Reply

      Really peak? Trying to detract from the fact that this is a legit mgm issue, are we?

      We get it.. People lie.. People have no moral ground to point fingers but just because of that should we keep quiet when we see something wrong being done. Just because life is hard means we should put our head in the sand?

      The cause for the deceit was the gay man marrying a woman. The two are linked in this article. Don’t try to separate it.

    • Peak
      September 01, 04:52 Reply

      @IBK, I am not trying to distract from anything. You have been here long enough to know that any issue that has a gay man marrying a woman on KD, is like dropping a pint of blood in a pool filled with sharks. They don’t bother about the message or anything else the piece holds. Their 1st and only instinct is to attack, judge and tear down.

      Have we all taken the time to ask ourselves some basic questions like;
      -Did these men step out on their marriage? (Yes they did)
      – Would these women be contented if they were cheated on with women? (U be the judge. But I know that they cheating with men, made it even more painful).
      -“just because of that should we keep quiet when we see something wrong being done”. No, you dont, What I’d like to know is what has all the name calling, all the holy & pretentious attitude, the hypocrisy we bathe with day and night done for us ?

      All the discussed scenario happened in developed countries. Countries with better educational system and sound awareness on LGBT issues. We don’t have a fraction of that here, yet we are always quick to make comparison between gay men there and here. Who talking and name calling don epp?
      Perhaps we should focus on making being LGBTQ OKAY! A friend said that the main focus should be making it okay to be gay and different. Work hard, excel at ur field, be charitable, make a name for urself. All of these would ultimately help change the narrative of homophobes that gay people are degenerates, cursed and lack focus. Develop a crop of admirable individuals who are major contributors in the society. That is one way to change the trend to fit in. Talking is changing nothing, you know it, I know it, we all know it.

  9. Fresh
    August 31, 22:12 Reply

    My sister married one and I’ve kissed with him twice. That’s not a big deal besides he’s the most active and loving Inlaw we had. The straight ones are too serious and always occupied.

    • Pink Panther
      September 01, 03:06 Reply

      Hehehee!!! I don’t know what it is about this comment, but I’m laughing heartily here.

  10. Ice
    September 28, 18:31 Reply

    This really got me thinking.
    Yes, it is wrong to drag an innocent woman into marriage knowing who you are and where you stand.
    But then, you guys need to also understand that the guy is also going through a lot of stuff. We’re in Nigeria, let’s not forget that. This is something that everyone is still trying to understand.
    I don’t think a gay man wants to hurt or lie to anyone, society has expectations, your family does too. You are doing well, ya have a great job and getting older, everyone gets in your business abt marriage and in an attempt not to disappoint anyone, you get married.

  11. Cube
    September 28, 18:39 Reply

    In the end, I don’t blame the MGM, it really is way deeper than we all think it is. Simple things are not always simple.

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