The words mixed orientation marriage aren’t often used in everyday conversation, nor is the term straight spouse.
I was painfully reminded of the lack of public awareness a few months ago. I work in television, and my whole department meets each morning to review everyone’s work and discuss priorities.
One of the managers read the ratings for all the networks, and one of the shows he named was “Sean Saves the World.” The series was about a man who, after being married to a woman for years, realizes he’s gay. It’s his story of life after divorce and how he co-parents with his ex-wife, a straight spouse.
The show didn’t get a great rating, so someone at the table sarcastically said, “Who can relate to that? Like 600 people?”
“I can introduce you to a lot of people who would enlighten you, Mr. Statistics.” That’s what I wanted to say. Instead I kept quiet. I hadn’t shared my experiences with many of my co-workers and I really didn’t want to discuss it in a meeting in front of the whole department.
The founder of The Straight Spouse Network, Amity Pierce Buxton, PhD says:
The most conservative estimate of heterosexual marriages in which one of the spouses is gay or lesbian is at least 2,000,000 and an unknown number of bisexual spouses ...are or have been in a heterosexual marriage.
Following that meeting I thought about what my co-worker said. And it hit me. Straight spouses don’t want to talk about it. I hadn’t told many people because I felt shame, guilt and embarrassment. No wonder people are so unaware of this phenomenon.
By sharing my story I hope to help the individuals who make up those statistics. I want to change social attitudes about legalizing same sex marriage. I’m very much in favor of everyone being accepted for their sexual orientation so they can marry the sex of their choice. We should end the need for closeted marriages for good.
I’ve had several readers ask if I could recommend a support
group for spouses who suddenly find themselves in a mixed orientation marriage.
When a gay spouse comes out, there are many resources
to help them through this challenging time; however, there are very few support
groups for the straight spouse.
anonymous group, full of love and support.
You can share your experiences and listen to the experiences of others. It was extremely valuable to me to know that
I wasn’t alone.
an ever-evolving website with information for spouses and their families and
the larger community. The site has instructions on how to join the
SSN founder, Amity Pierce Buxton, PhD also reminded me that
the group has an advocacy arm to promote LGBT equality so that fewer straight
spouses will find themselves in their mates’ closet.
I’ve had personal experience with SSN, but there are other
online groups that you may find helpful:
Husbands Out to Wives, Alternate Paths
and the Yahoo Groups, Making Mixed
Orientation Marriage Work and Men
Married to Lesbians.