Focus; The Other Side of the Closet: the Coming Out Crisis for the Straight Spouses and Families
This past summer the governor of New Jersey James McGreevey made headlines became a national story when he revealed that he was gay. And perhaps you'll recall having seen some of the press conference that he held that day that he talked with reporters and the fact that his wife stood beside him as he made that announcement. Our guest for this part of focus 580 Amity Pierce of Buxton no doubt has some understanding of what it was that the governor's wife was feeling that day because she herself had the same experience although not in so public a manner her own husband came out. Back in 1983 and in part as a result of having had that experience she founded the Straight Spouse Network to help other people who were going through that same experience. She's been quoted as saying that she knows how hard it was for the governor's wife but she said it made people realize that at any time that any time a married person comes out there is a straight spouse who as who is affected it's a family matter she said. She's the author of a book that has been out now for some time that addresses the experiences of the Straight Spouse the title of her book is the other side of the closet the coming out crisis for straight spouses and their families as published by John Wiley and sons. It is available in paperback. Emily Buxton lectures nationally she conducts support groups and she counsels spouses an ex-spouse is a bisexual gay and lesbian mates. She chairs the international Straight Spouse support network of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and she's joining us this morning by telephone questions are certainly welcome. We just asked people to try to be brief just so we can keep the program moving and get in as many people as possible but of course anybody is welcome to call 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Also we do have that toll free line that's good anywhere that you can hear us. And there he is 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 1. Dr. Buxton Hello. Good morning how are you. I'm fine thanks and thanks very much for talking with us. Well certainly I know in the wake of what happened there with Governor McGreevey I have read a number of articles that have quoted you. And have in a sense all sort of said the same kind of thing that in fact I think in one of these it was a newspaper article said that you were you've been waiting for something like this to happen but that you certainly didn't expect that it would happen with both spouses seen together on national television.
Yes I think that's what did it because people could see that when a married person comes out. Oh yes. Oh yeah. There is somebody else involved.
The we don't really know. People make guesses but for obvious reasons we really don't know how many how many gay people there are in the United States. You know we just don't know. But so but I think you at least try to make some sort of a guess at it again a sort of a difficult figure and that is how many gays and lesbians are married and their partners don't don't know that that their spouse is gay.
It is difficult to figure out I just took the. Current census and most conservative estimate of the incidence of gay and lesbian people and how many of them research have been married and really no one knows. So we figure that up to 2 million gay and lesbian persons were are or will be married and in most cases you're right the straights both won't know it in some cases. I think it was me and may not even know it yet.
And how do we have any other sort of more reliable number of how many how many people in a less public sort of way but have gone through this same thing that the McGreevy are going through you know all I know that as I've talked myself with about 95 hundred since 1986 and at any one time our network is working with 7000.
So you know so many people are still closeted just hard to tell I would say hundreds of thousands.
Any time that a marriage breaks up it's going to be difficult and particularly if if if one one spouse one partner says to the other one that I don't want to be with you anymore I want to be with somebody else that the remaining spouse is going to feel it's going to be feel hurt and I guess the question I'm getting at is that if if your spouse says I don't want to be with you because I'm gay is that any more difficult for them to say to you. I don't want to be with you because I just want to be with somebody else. You know that and the whole issue of their sexual identity doesn't come into play. Is that really that more that much more difficult.
Well it is because you're being rejected for being a man or a woman and in many cases the husband or wife who comes out still loves you but you're just rejected as a man or a woman. The implication of that is oh I wasn't. Feminine offer masculine enough to keep him from turning. These are the initial feelings of course. And so it's different. And that is the hard thing is there is no way you can change it. If your husband has an affair with his secretary or something you think well maybe maybe if I can get in there or change the color of my hair or cook better he'll come back. But in this case this new way of rerouting the sexual desire.
I would and I'm sure not having had the experience that some people would say that they might find that in some way assuring because then it really doesn't. It's really not about them.
All right but you get to that point after about a year or so both gain from the rejection.
Do you still feel attracted to your husband or wife. It's just it's just a very strange Neverland nightmare to go through.
Yes we can hear that in time you realize of course. In fact some people say it's a compliment that they stayed with you as long as they did.
And it does and I think one of the basic points the number of the articles that I have read that have quoted you again since the this this big became a national story last August. Is that what happens. And again it's not surprising is that when when that happens when someone comes out that the attention ends up being focused on them in whether that is is anger sadness outrage you know whatever it is and indeed I'm sure that it shaped by how people attitudes generally towards homosexuality that the whole thing it becomes about that person who is coming out because not because they are coming out and that's a bit and that's a big deal but you're you're you're a point that you're trying to remind people is that that it's and it's not just about that person. So you feel that in fact when all this happens so much attention is focused on the person so it's coming out is that very little thought is given to with the experience what that what these the straight spouse is going through.
Exactly and their issues are there.
Will you need you we just talked about one of them the fact of your homosexuality your sexuality and your your being a man or a woman is rejected but also for another huge huge problem is the deception involved because no matter how long the husband or wife stayed closeted that little bit of time makes the straights think that they were pretty foolish not to have it want to see it here or there. Their trust has been betrayed and that there this person is there with no not what they turn expected.
I'm sure that that also that among the things that the Straight Spouse hears from friends family anybody who knows about what happened is this question well why didn't how could you not have known right.
Well because you mean most cases ninety nine point nine percent. Give them that. The two love each other tremendously want to have a family together. There's that and the gay person for however long you hear see or hear from you is apparently very very straight.
You can have make love. You may not be totally desirous but you can if possible to make love. So there's there's absolutely no clue.
So but you do feel pretty stupid. And when people ask you well how could you have known that make you feel even more stupid.
In fact the fact that other people don't understand the uniqueness of the situation makes many spouses not want to talk about it.
They go into their own closets for you know there's people I think are trying to understand. What it means to be gay. There's seems to be a lot of controversy and perhaps misunderstanding about how it is that people come to understand their sexual orientation and and how that happens and when that happens.
And from from your experience talking you know not sure again what sort of representative sample you've been able to collect but having talked with a lot of families who have gone through this do you have some sort of sense of when these people married. Were they at all conflicted about their sexual orientation.
There's I think they you know from the 95 hundred folks I've been talking with and then you know the research I've done you know.
Who knows exactly what percentage but a large number had no clue it was something that maybe in high school I had a crush on some boy or something but I kind of discounted it. I thought it was just a teenage thing and put it aside and buried it somewhere. And if they were in some kind of a conservative base community or conservative town then it wasn't even an option to think about it. A number of others did have experiences or knew they were had these feelings of the corrections for the same gender when they got married but felt that they loved this person so much it would supersede those feelings.
And then on the. The other group we're told by friends or family or psychiatry or doctors or whatever that is. Well if you get mad the feelings will go away.
We have a caller and would welcome others. Our guest in this part of focus 580 is Amity Pierce Buxton. She lectures nationally and conducts support groups and counsel spouses an ex-spouse of bisexual gay and lesbian mates. She also chairs the international Straight Spouse support network of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and is the author of a book that's titled The other side of the closet the coming out crisis for straight spouses and families and is available in a paperback it's published by John Wiley and sons So if you're interested you can head out to the bookstore and look for the book. And also her organization does have a Web site too. So if you have internet access and you are to interested in reading about the organization and more about the issue that's one place that you can go as well. Let us talk with the caller here in believe the caller is in Indiana and our line for toll free 1.
Hello. Two questions the first question you started to Mike since I get the answer and that was earlier in the program you mentioned that when they would ask you about you know why would people get married that are you know themselves. And stuff that somewhere in there you said something to the effect that they don't know it yet. Or something similar to that. And you now would start talking about people having a crush and thought maybe it was just a teenage thing. And I didn't know about this thing where doctors would say well if you do get married always go away. That's one I've never heard of and I'm in the Midwest a long time and we have a lot of strange things about homosexuality here that you know nowhere near the facts but my second question then is I may not be enough dad but I was wondering if there's anything gender going on here. All we've talked about so far is the male coming out and in the you know the dutiful wife standing by her husband's side. I myself haven't thought of any well-known people who were lesbians who gave up their husbands or boyfriends. But since you have a fairly large group there maybe you have and I just wonder there is this sort of massaging this thing going on too it adds to the homosexuality especially when it's the male that comes out of the claws in the female sort of left holding the bag.
Well not really. Sure what your question is but yes there are a lot of lesbians coming out and just women discovering that they're attracted to women so much later in their lives than gay men.
For some reason and there are more lesbians coming out of them.
Before I used to get one out of every five callers was a man whose wife would come out and no it's 2 out of every five.
So it does I get just generally and I did begin just with this example of the story that was recently in news that had just happened to be a man coming out but there but it does happen the other way and the other the other situation does happen and and in your contacts you certainly have met people who where the where the case was that the wife was the one who was coming out. So what if it does indeed happen does it. Tell me again with the percentages look like does doesn't.
Currently I get every everything out of every five call to are from husbands whose wives and cannot. That's twice as many as before.
What you talked about the fact that in a lot of people's response would be would be sort of a feeling of personal failure. That goes beyond the kind of feeling of failure that you might have when any marriage would hurt you know any marriage would break down that it's not just it. I wasn't a good husband or I wasn't a good wife.
The feeling is that I'm there's something wrong with me as a man or as a woman or as a person is a lot of things that go on after this too.
What in what way do you counsel people who are having those feelings you know. How do how does one work with those and work through those.
Well the one the first piece of advice I give is go slowly come back. If these issues are so profound you can't get there quickly and friends and family oftentimes push you to do so. Probably the there's one thing that this is a self-esteem and feeling rejected and feeling sexually shortchanged in your belief system is torn up because gender isn't what you thought it was and marriage isn't what you thought it was. But in addition to those issues there are four really powerful emotions that can sidetrack you. One is the pain just the devastation that the world's been ripped apart for years.
And another is anger not necessarily that the person is gay or lesbian but that you were deceived and you were betrayed the trust was betrayed. And the third is this is the fear fear of OK what happens now what about the children how will they be treated.
Will the guards left Canada. And then finally because most of these couples do end up in divorce is the whole grief thing.
So we hold people's hands as they go through dealing with these issues until they can finally accept the fact that their husband or wife is not going to turn back into a straight person and that you have to figure out what you want yourself.
Is it is it common that initially that that the straight spouse will think to himself or her to herself somehow I can do something that will make my partner not to be gay.
This is in most cases you know that's very true and you think well we can work it out somehow. We love each other so much and we've got so much history with that these kids we can work it out.
How common is it for spouses in this situation to decide to stay married and to make that relationship continue to be successful.
Well not too common usually about a third of the couples break up pretty quickly. One of them may have a lover or the industry. Spouse as you know I kind of deal with non-monogamy or it's wrong to be evil. I mean it's evil to be gay. And another third stay together for a year or so and just try to figure out what to do.
But the last third can commit to trying to figure out a way that they can stay married and half of them which means a sixth of the total decide are still together after three years.
Some are monogamous. Some of an open marriage. Some are celibate but their relationship is that important that they can each give up a little bit to stay together.
And is that something the decision that is made for themselves or is that primarily something it's made because they have children and they're there since they did they're doing it for them.
It's a it's a mixed bag. It's basically it's for themselves and the relationship is that important. And secondarily because of the family and the children and their responsibilities. But rarely just for the sake of the children.
In any time that a marriage breaks up and there are children that's just that's an additional complication.
It is because you know if you're particularly if you're in a conservative community you know the kids are going to be teased for having a gay parent.
And so you have to figure out how to support the children. But it's good that you from the children's perspective they're more interested in having two parents who love them than the fact that one of them is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender.
Do you is it more difficult for who for whom is it more difficult to adjust to the fact that the parent has come out is it does it tougher for the spouse or is it tougher for the children who suffer for this both because the parent always continues to be the parent.
And the trial continues to be the child but the spousal relationship is questionable.
That's And in most cases of the coming out and up and divorce that of course that's more the day after we're about a midpoint in this part of focus 580 and that perhaps I just again real quickly introducing our guest Dr. Amity Pierce Buxton she lectures nationally and conducts support groups and counsels spouses an ex-spouse is a bisexual gay and lesbian mates. She also chairs the international Straight Spouse support network of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and she got into doing this because she had this experience her self or her husband came out. Now it's been some years. But as a result of going through that process and seeing other people do it she decided that one of the things she wanted to do was to provide some support and assistance for people who are having that same kind of experience. And now she spends a lot of time doing that. The number here in Champaign Urbana if you'd like to call it questions comments 3 3 3 9 4 5 5.
We do also have a toll free line good anywhere that you can hear us or on Illinois Indiana in fact if you'd be listening on the internet as long as you're in the United States you can use that number and that is 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5.
I would imagine that again going back to the idea that this there's something perhaps unique going on here when this relationship breaks up for that reason and that has to do with the with the person is this the straight spouse perhaps questioning their their worth as man or woman that that could lead for that person. As far as their their their sexual identity in a sense would lead them to either think that that means that nobody is going to be attracted to them. Right. And for that reason almost give up on the idea of having another partner. I suppose one could go the other way and that one would set out to prove that indeed they could be attractive to another man and another woman here.
Right you're right I'm both come from any kind of wild. There wasn't a lot to prove to themselves that they're sexually attractive and the others just wonder and fear dating so it takes a long time it takes at least three years to sort of get back on your feet and another two or three years to really feel like a full authentic person. In fact the process of getting back on their feet and feeling like an authentic person is exactly what the gay spouse did in coming out.
Well you have some of the callers here to bring into the conversation let's do that. Next is where we are line number one.
Well good morning. Very interesting subject. The speaker said that he s. Did hundreds of thousands maybe that were married and in the closet. How would you know if if you are how does that turn out. And do you know what I mean. How how would you know if you're gay or if you're married to someone who's gay.
Oh well there are no real signs except if you find them absorbed in gay porn on the Internet or find numbers scribbled on matchbook from gay bars or or you discover emails written to lovers and things like that it's very hard to tell that's one of the problems.
Because if you're gay or lesbian in most cases and married you don't want to come out and lose your family you don't want to come out and be rejected at work around your church or whatever.
So it's just very hard to tell. OK thank you.
Well does it. Dr. Walks.
Is it the case that that ultimately what happens is that the the the gay spouse the gay partner it gets to the point where they feel they simply have to do the half they have to come out and say you know it it comes down to the day when they sit there with their their partner and say look there's something I have to tell you. Yeah.
And it's that I'm gay Exactly and it could be it could be a life crisis it could be a death of the family it could be I know one person came out on Valentine's Day.
Somebody else can be pushed by a lover to say look make up your mind who you want me to hear your voice for your husband. Yes it can. That is kind of a build up because if it is it is this attraction is there and can no longer be denied.
Let's talk with someone else this next caller's in Champaign in line too. Hello.
Hi good morning. I think my comments are going to quicken. Oh well of course. Listen what about the people who knows that he has money. You know I mean and he has no broke you know. Well that was my case when I was in Mexico my has gone minute he was gay but he never wanted to cut the marriage. Very cool Barry would have stayed he is really creating sales now finally with Eddie because I see keep the kids because he has a big. So I mothered a lot put my key to key fry I think have been my keys on all the foremost. Oh my God life 50 years ago. I never get my keep. But what a pretty car and I didn't have no way. Nope not people to draw or allowed it to. I mean no football or anything. Only something you care for your life. I see Don Medion early folks e-mailing me was because I was smart like I know because I was attractive and if you know who you know you're pretty. Effects a bore for people I also like for me who have been there but don't nobody because he was a professor in the university.
Yes I've heard that's a common story.
Very very common story unfortunately. Yeah but there are people that you can talk with known on the Internet and in the group.
One of the the isolation you talk about is is one of the burdens that the Street has and for that reason oh we're now independent we're we're not part of the parents families and friends and lesbians and gays anymore were our own organization because we we feel that we need to stand up just as the straight stuff does and say we're here we're here to help you heal and build bridges of understanding while still so you can go to the website which is W W W Yes and an e t's w k dot org.
OK thank you so much for your prissy. Did I get to any people or support people who don't come up with a good offical or yes yes yes.
OK thanks. Well thank you so that I just again that your your experience of the time that your husband came out and this was more than 20 years ago 83 in 1983 so there there I gather that at the time there was nothing like this.
The network that year.
You know we have support groups here and there and one of the people I interviewed for my book was running this task force for the flag and when the book came out as it were. She asked me to take it over and so we changed into a network.
So we have 17 support groups across the country and contacts in 11 different countries and contacts in every state.
The caller just told a story about her her husband coming out to her but saying that he didn't want anybody else to know and that they he wanted them to stay together and that they did even if they did for a while although sound like she said it was it was really really difficult. How come. Situation where you go out.
That's very common.
Despite the growth of acceptance of gay people when gay people come out having been straight they are so fearful of losing their jobs and their friends and their status in the church or they or temple. And so it becomes a secret and that's another burden for the straight spouse who's never in her life or his life had to be keeping a secret because his family secrets are lethal.
We'll continue to call I'm sure the next is in champagne and wine one hello.
Hi I'm just wondering is there ever a time when you know there isn't like well this is your true sexuality like you have lived as a straight person but then you're saying that suddenly somebody realizes their true sexuality. I guess I'm just kind of questioning when it's there's always a true or real sexuality like for example do people ever think that they're gay and then go back and get their They're really basically.
Heterosexual or bisexual or who says the guy's a good question.
Well it's those feelings of attractions and desires that bubble up inside for people who would if you're totally straight would not be doubling up in size. So what we have to distinguish between what you call yourself your identity and the feelings that you have and then what you do about it. So if you say it's very fluid and very complex. But yes we've had wives and I know two instances of wives who came out left their husbands and then came back and remarried because they felt yes I am biased. I have these feelings for women but totally my my loyalty and my my bond is with my husband.
Right I mean the social implications of being gay some kind can be almost more Orwellian for some people than then making the change or.
Yeah exactly and it's a whole long process of coming out and it can get. It can be very confusing particularly if you're the straight spouse and your husband or wife is is trying to work through this very confusing dilemma.
Right. OK. Thank you very much.
Will do you I wonder do you think Dr. Buxton that if as a society we were more accepting.
Of sex of homosexuality.
This idea of sexual identity and perhaps its fluidity whether we would have fewer cases like those that we're talking about or would we still have people get married and then decide that that was the that was for them there was no right.
I think what would happen is that people would be more honest to them about themselves and to their brides and grooms to be. And we might end up having marriages that end up breaking up but they'll be based on honesty and truth. And that's the thing that's most troubling about these situations is people aren't really sure about who they are and marry and keep this part and separate and that's part of part of the critical so. Yes they would be.
That would maybe there be fewer marriages like this.
But in those cases that the less devastating if they fell apart the next caller's line three and this is also someone in Champaign I think joined the program so far I think you've been extremely helpful and extremely interesting. I have another issue that I'd like to hear you. Say something about and that is the physical risks that are you take along with perhaps living a secret life. And I'm thinking specifically about HIV infection. Can you say a word or two about the secrecy and perhaps the risk to the unknowing partner.
I will be happy to think you know this is how some wives find out with when their husbands go to the hospital with pneumonia and are diagnosed as HIV positive.
The first thing we do and spouses call us women is say get tested. So yes there's a tremendous risk in men and in this case it's primarily men who are having unprotected sex. And without their wives knowledge because they are not only put the ones at risk but they put wives who are pregnant at the fetus at risk. Yes and one of the things that has come to light this year which is so sad is that in the African-American community there's been a greater increase of HIV positive for the African-American women than for any other group because men on the down low. You may know about that sale King wrote. So we have now have a spouses of color network and we're trying to work with spouses and and work with. They are trying to work with us and with African-American churches so that acceptance of homosexuality and recognition that there are these cases might make some of the men to be more honest with their lawyers and be able to come out and as least have protected sex. Thank you.
All right thank you for the call again. Other people who have questions comment you certainly can pick up the telephone and join in the conversation here in Champaign-Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We do also have a toll free line and that was good anywhere that you can hear us around Illinois Indiana or on the Internet. That's 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 1. Again one of things that we know when when families break up. One of the challenges can be how do we chart the future shape of the family and how are people going to relate to one another and can get that much more difficult if the two original spouses than they go out and they have new partners and that the you know they may want their children the children of the first couple to be involved with the new the new partners the mom and the dad which again can be really difficult they forced simply talking about again mixed gender.
Couples You know that's that's tough enough. But if we were then taking it to the next level and we're saying that here we've got a dad with a male partner or a mom with a female partner and you want to get kind of make make a bigger extended blended family and involve these people that that can I'm sure just makes it that much more difficult.
Most spouses in fact I was with in our support group last night here in San Francisco Bay area there was a woman who's making it terribly making a strong effort to keep her there her husband in the children's lives.
And he comes over for dinner twice a week. But she's going to take. Time for the children to get used to. For the husband is his partner because one of the things that happens is if there's a large turnover of partners the kids get very confused. If you're over in daddies or mommies house and for four months or five months there's this one partner and then this another partner. I mean the same thing would be true in a straight state too but we are going very very slowly and then the children get used to the idea is it about love between two people of the same gender and it's their father's home. Some set up rules about you know don't have the partner is there and it is very complicated.
One of the things that. You talked about it when you particularly at the onset and I'm sure that it's a continuing thing that straight spouses have to deal with is the feeling of having been deceived. That is that here this person that was you know maybe they felt this was this is the person that's supposed to be closest to me in the world.
The person from whom you hold hold back nothing. You know the idea suppose is supposedly And of course if anybody has been married or been in a relationship for a long time you know how imperfect this sharing of Secrets Can Be. But you know the idea is that you're set you're supposed to know everything are almost everything about that person and when you get a situation like this when you realize that somehow there was this huge thing about them that you did not know or that they were withholding from you that I'm sure then one of the questions you start asking yourself is what else. When will we know what else don't I know or we know what what else are they maybe not telling me the truth about it. And I would imagine that this that question then gets generalized to all kinds of things that maybe you question many many other things that you thought you knew about this person and you start asking well you know what about this thing or what about this thing or do I really then I suppose ultimately you ask Do I really know this person at all.
It doesn't seem to play out that way is so good. This probably was so devastating that to you know what else would you like there be. That usually doesn't happen.
So yes not a situation where in their future relationship the members of the couple or at least the straight spouse in the back of their head they're not they're not continually questioning whether they're whether they're gay spouses being so to speak is being straight with them about whatever it is they have talking about.
Oh ok I see what you're saying. Yeah. No actually because of the deception. They don't trust anything the spouse says about anything.
That's that's kind of what I would say it is what else it's just OK to make a promise that you're a couple of weeks you won't go to the gay bar so that i can we can do some talking and then they go go out to do some errands and stuff comes back two hours later you say where were you. You know they get very very suspicious. I don't trust the word and get kind of paranoid for a while takes and it takes a long time to rebuild the trust. But there's wife coming out her husband coming out.
So that seems that would that would place a particular burden on the gay spouse to keep that in mind and.
And remember that even maybe small things if they say they're going to do certain things and they seem to be small things that that they may be small things but the fact that they're there they're doing what they said they were going to do that they're consistent that they're reliable that that that's important even perhaps with the small thing.
Well that would be true after about two years what happens is the dynamics are quite interesting when a husband or wife comes out finally they're able to do what they never could be able to do.
They can say it in their feelings are flowing and they become self-absorbed and in fact they'll joke among themselves they become like teenagers again like adolescents. And if you had if you have teenagers in your family you know they're very self-absorbed and what and they don't think about anybody else. So for the first couple of years it's so wife or straight wife or straight husband wants them to go slowly just so that they can work things out. Gay or Lesbian feels they're being imprisoned controlled and so forth. And they also want even things.
The consequences on the way that we're coming down to the point are we have about seven eight minutes left one more time let me introduce our guest Pierce Buxton. She lectures nationally and conducts support groups and council spouses an ex-spouse is a bisexual gay and lesbian mates. She also chairs the international Straight Spouse a support network of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She has authored a book that explores this territory that we're talking about here the title is the other side of the closet the coming out crisis for straight spouses and families. It's published by John Wiley and sons. Also her organization has a website so that if you do have Internet access and you're interested in looking at it and seeing what's there you can go to the website instable UWW dot S S and E T W K Dot orgy and you can see what they're all about.
We have another caller here Bloomington Indiana. Lie number four.
Well I join you mid program I might not have heard everything you've said but it seems to me that you're saying that the guilty party in a marriage. As you know he's perpetrated to whoever the guilty spouse is has perpetrated a gross violation of traditional wedding vows. And the victim of this violation has no Hamady. It doesn't even have any much social sympathy in it it appears. It's like the ultimate consequence of no fault divorce which is which leaves the perpetrator free the perpetrator gets a free pass and the victim just has to tough it out in my own living.
That's what many straight spouses feel in many cases when the husband or husband or wife comes out they haven't broken any vows. They just say look I've got these feelings what do we do about them. They all don't go out and act on it first right away. And but what we like to say is that in any kind of social change which this is acceptance of gay. Raising able to be free. Aside from the marriage they're going to be they're going to be victims along the way. And when a spouse comes out regardless of whether they act on it or not. Sort of the cold collateral damage is the wife and the kids. As a husband as a kid and what we try to do it illustrates US network as they get their wives and husbands whose husbands and wives have come out to stop feeling to grow beyond feeling like a victim. To become sisters in their own life that they they can themselves feel in control of their lives.
Well that's true. All right. I understand fully that the victim should and should be brave. But our society our culture should be structured in such a way that there's a stigma there's some great disapproval to the perpetrator to the guilty party the guilty party should not go scot free. And also this stigma does disapprove its functions not after the fact but it should warn the perpetrator. He should feel guilty before he perpetrates this kind of a of a fraud.
Well one of what we're hoping is that if society becomes accepting of people being gay then they won't have to hide in the closet of a marriage.
But thank you very much. Interesting program.
All right thank you for the call again we have just a couple minutes left. If somebody wanted to call in here maybe five minutes left and made a comment or ask a question that certainly would be possible and acceptable 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5.
But he does bring up an interesting point which is one of the reasons why I was pleased to see this is a grieving in the TV spotlight because we do forget that there is a spouse involved.
And I my feeling was that she was there saying hello I'm here too.
Well the end I guess it obviously the the caller's coming from a point of view that they believe that homosexuality is wrong you know. And that somehow that the idea of if you cheat on your wife with another woman that's bad but if you cheat on your wife with another man that's somehow worse.
But my point is that spouses who come out not all spouses of good must have cheated.
This is just their feeling. And a lot of them will come out and as I said a sixth of them will still be married and stay married and stay monogamous. It's hard to do.
And a lot of them when they married didn't really really thought they could make a go of it my husband felt that his love for me was going to override his homosexuality.
And did he believe you. So you know he has he has since passed away and you have remarried and I guess some time ago so that that's not right but not to something that happened last week.
He lived a perfectly straight life which nearly killed him and did destroy our marriage because he became more and more depressed and repressed and withdrawn because he couldn't be who we wanted to be and trying to do the right thing as a good Irish Catholic.
There in his particular case he would have said that when you when he married he knew that he was gay.
Yes he had been active in it put it aside to marry me and he was faithful the whole time.
Another caller here Abana number one.
Since our society still streams you have to turn your radio down for us.
Society so strongly condemns homosexuality it leaves the gay person who discovers his or her beingness in a predicament where there's no solution but a heterosexual marriage if they want sexual fulfillment are to go underground in the network of the rejected in our society. Who says I do have any thoughts about how society could come to be more accepting of the idea that some people are bar not to marry homosexually heterosexually the only the only hope I.
I keep saying is that if people would look at what happens to marriages and which men and women who think they are gays feel is the only option they have to look at that devastation from so many of them they might stop saying oh you have to get married in a heterosexual marriage unless this is my personal opinion and allow gays and lesbians who want families and be together to let them do it. Otherwise we've got these thousands and thousands and thousands of divorces.
It's curious that people who want monogamy are denied it because it isn't heterosexual because of those rules.
All right well thank you to the CO. Do you talk about Snape again based on the kind of sample that you've had now talking with something something approaching 10000 people who have been through this experience. How many of them like you remarry find find other partners remarry have to have successful second marriages and kind of manage to go on.
I can't I can't really say I couldn't quantify it.
I would say let me put it this way. I would say 90 percent do go on to new and better life whether with married or not married. But. It takes at least six years to really do it and a lot of support. One of the reasons we became independent of peace flag was so that we could just depend on all our resources to focus on support and education for straight spouses.
How difficult is it. You know we talk for example we heard from an earlier caller and she told the story of feeling that she was going through this kind of situation and that there was nowhere for her to turn in part because her her husband said he didn't want anybody to know that he was gay. And she talked about others having taken place some years before. But even now how difficult is it for people who find themselves in this situation to do indeed have to have somewhere to turn to to get some share.
It's very difficult and this is why what you're doing is so wonderful and why the McGreevey is coming out because we've had so we've we've had triple the number of calls since Governor McGreevey came out and all the public public city followed. It's hard and we're trying to get the word word out. But there is somebody in every state I believe at least and in 70 communities who will be there and all you need to do that all anyone needs to do is listen you know if they go into the Web site it will find somebody and hopefully we can get the word out to doctors lawyers rabbis wherever to say look this does happen.
You are not alone and there is help.
Well we're going to have to stop there because we've come to the to the end of the time and I do want to mention again that there is if you have internet access there is the Web site that we have mentioned for the organization that Dr. Buxton is involved with and this is w w w dot S S N E T W k o Archie and she also has the book if you're interested in reading the book is titled The other side of the closet the coming out crisis for straight spouses and families and it is published by John Wiley and sons and Doctor books and thanks very much for talking to us.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- Amity Pierce Buxton, Ph.D., Director Straight Spouse Network
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- Chicago: “Focus; The Other Side of the Closet: the Coming Out Crisis for the Straight Spouses and Families ,” 2004-10-28, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-pv6b27q87n.
- MLA: “Focus; The Other Side of the Closet: the Coming Out Crisis for the Straight Spouses and Families .” 2004-10-28. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-pv6b27q87n>.
- APA: Focus; The Other Side of the Closet: the Coming Out Crisis for the Straight Spouses and Families . Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-pv6b27q87n