Michael Hamar

Straight Spouses: The Collateral Damage of the Ex-Gay Myth

Filed By Michael Hamar | September 23, 2012 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: coming out in middle age, ex-gay doesn't work, LGBT families, religion as an evil, religious based bigotry, Straight Spouse Network, straight spouses

A topic that needs more exposure is the damage done to straight spouses who find themselves in marriages to gay/lesbian spouses (who have married typically under pressure to conform to societal/family expectations and religious brainwashing that tells them that sexual orientation is changeable and that one can become "straight").

Despite the fact that all legitimate medical and mental health associations now condemn the "change" myth and hold that sexual orientation is not something that one can change, the leading Christofascist anti-gay hate groups and many churches continue to push the myth that "gay is wrong" and that "change is possible." Indeed, just this week Joel Osteen engaged in some of this batshitery even though he conceded that he did not "choose" to be heterosexual.

More after the break.

A piece by Amity P. Buxton, (pictured at right) founder of the Straight Spouse Network, on the Huffington Post looks at the plight of these men and women who find themselves in a whirlwind because their wives or husbands tried to be straight; often they had children as they deceived themselves (and their spouses) until the whole structure simply collapsed.

I'm a formerly married gay man with children and I've seen the collateral damage that the ex-gay charlatans and religious leaders like Pope Benedict XVI cause. The evil they do to countless thousands of gays/lesbians, their straight spouses, and their children, needs to be exposed and stopped.

Tucked in a corner of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender closet is a little-known group: straight women and men in heterosexual marriages whose husbands or wives come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender after marrying them as "the right thing to do." Finding the marriages too difficult to maintain due to their hidden sexual orientation or gender identity, they eventually say, "Honey, I'm gay," or, "I need to become the woman or man I am."
Though some couples work out ways to stay together, most divorce, their children now in a broken family. As divorced LGBT partners begin to live their lives with integrity, their straight ex-partners are left in shock, their own identity, integrity, and belief system shattered. The spotlight on the disclosing partners, few outsiders think about their wives or husbands. "They're straight! They're normal. No problem."

Lately, many people - of all orientations - say to me, "Oh, this doesn't happen nearly as often now, right?" Wrong. While conditions are improving for same-sex relationships and transgender persons, these marriages still occur to meet heterosexist expectations, and LGBT spouses in them keep coming out.

More importantly, the larger community remains unaware of this wider range of harm caused by anti-same-sex and pro-heterosexual marriage beliefs. Straight spouses are injured by the very anti-gay or anti-trans/pro-straight factors in our society that caused their mates to marry them - "collateral damage," some say.

Once they know the truth, the vast majority divorce and must pick up the pieces of their fractured families to create a semblance of normalcy for their children. In addition, a number keep their ex-partners' "secret," wanting to avoid the latter's rejection by community, workplace, or place of worship, and to protect their children from taunts... Few find the knowledgeable professional help they need.

It's time to pay attention to this invisible group. A new book does just that. Unseen-Unheard: The Journey of Straight Spouses, of which I am a co-author, opens the window onto their emotional, sexual, cognitive, psychological, relational, and spiritual trauma.

We wanted readers to see and hear straight spouses' anger at being in their mates' closet unknowingly, their disbelief that the marriage they knew was a mirage, their fear that they don't have strength to cope, their anxiety that their children will suffer, and their grief from letting go of what they thought they had.

The good news is that most spouses gradually become triumphantly self-confident. Many gain understanding of why their mates married them, and a number, like me, become LGBT equality activists. The bad news is that the societal factors underlying these painful journeys persist, and, until we change them, painful stories like these will continue to be told.

The next time you hear some pastor, priest, televangelist snake oil merchant, or even the Pope himself, railing against gays and the homosexual agenda and claiming that gays can "change," I hope you will picture in your mind the men, women and children who are being condemned to doomed marriages.

All so that liars and hypocrites can feel superior and good about themselves while they line their pockets with money.

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