Gender + Sexuality

November 23, 2011

It Happened To Me: My Ex-Husband Is Gay

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Written by: Debbie
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When my twelve-year-old told me her father was gay, I finally understood why our marriage had been doomed. I was relieved. I believed he had finally come to terms with his identity and had the courage to come out. I was very wrong. He was coming out, but he had known all along.

After having invested eighteen years of my life in this relationship, you can imagine my reaction when the truth finally came out. My husband was gay. Me, his wife, our children, our identity as a family had been nothing more than storefront window dressing, allowing him to make his way through life shrouded in heterosexual privilege.

For what is equivalent to the duration of a life sentence, I tried to make my marriage work. I was not happy, and my husband definitely never tried to make me happy. How could he? The last thing he wanted was to be married to a woman. Unknowing, I had refused to give up. I tried anything and everything to make it work. I didn’t want regrets or to end up wondering ‘what if?’.  After having exhausted all possibilities and living the last two years in a turmoil of escalating violence, I had reached my limit. It was time to put an end to my marriage.

My outrage regarding the dissolution of my marriage is somewhat unique. My outrage is aimed not solely at a person, but the society and systems that kept him closeted and afraid.

My husband’s decision to marry and to have a family was deliberate and purposeful. He used me and our marriage for professional advancement and to avoid social disapproval. My whole life with this man was a lie. Twenty years were stolen from me by a man too afraid and to ashamed to live his truth.

I have never understood why people give so much of their personal power away. WHO are THEY to tell us how to dress, where to hang out, to dictate what car to drive and who to love? How can one’s choice of partner have any impact or relevance in the workplace? I fail to see how this can make a person better, more valuable or on the flip side – a failure.

I cannot pretend to imagine the pressure, the inner turmoil, the confusion that might come from daring to come out and say, “I’m gay.” If my husband had come out and said, “I’m gay and I can’t live this marriage, this lie anymore,” my reaction I hope would have been one of understanding. More so the earlier he would have admitted it. (I am human after all and being used is never fun).

As a victim of another’s personal agenda, let me tell you that the price was too high. Oh sure, I have three beautiful children…children who might have thrived had they been born to someone who had actually wanted them.

I have met so many people in my lifetime, and it doesn’t matter if they were man or woman…some were outgoing, others reserved, some extremely artistic while others were black and white in everything they did, yet each one was unique in his or her own way. I hope now, with our changing times, that we can learn to love and respect one another without judgment, because the price my family paid for social injustice and discrimination was too high.

About the Author

Although I mostly write for children and young adults, I have a voice (or at least a comment) for all that is unjust. Regardless of the jobs I've held over the years (nurse, teacher, martial arts instructor, to name a few) one thing has stood out as I worked with children, adults, handicapped and refugees...teaching. Teaching people to treat others the way they wish to be treated. Teaching them to act with respect and to embrace the differences that make us all unique...which is why I've become a writer...because I can create a place where these values actually exist!




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  1. Pete

    I’m trying really hard to give you the benefit of the doubt but when you say shit like:

    “children who might have thrived had they been born to someone who had actually wanted them.”

    I have a really hard time not dismissing you as a homophobic asshole.

    • Debbie

      He did not want them. I say so because he hasn’t bothered to take time or make time to see much of them since the separation. If he had waned them, cherished them, he would want to make sure they were part of birthday parties, Christmas or family gatherings, but they always seem to be left out. I am not as you say a ‘homophobic asshole’, far from it, and I would say the same of any man (regardless of sexual orientation) who would act this way towards his children. And there is no need to get testy…until you have walked a mile in my shoes…

  2. Ty

    I applaud your bravery to bring your story to light. There are a few issues here for sure.. and while orientation may be one of them.. some fathers are just not meant to be dads.

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