My wife of five years, mate of 11 years, and mother of our two kids has dropped a bomb on me: She thinks she’s a lesbian.
About eight years ago, shortly after our first child, she had a couple of experiences with another woman. Being young and ignorant (she was 19, I was 23), I thought it was cool—until I found a letter that she wrote telling this woman she missed her and wanted to see her again. I confronted her, and we chalked it up to excitement about the “experiment.” Fast-forward to a year ago. She met a new “friend,” and my wife suggested that the three of us have sex. I agreed. To be honest, it was great; it even seemed to improve our sex life when we were alone. Eventually, our new “friend” found another boyfriend, and everything ended.
Then, two months after our threesome experiences, my wife dropped the bomb: She believes she’s a lesbian, she’s been attracted to women since she was a teenager, she thinks of women when we have sex, and she doesn’t want to have sex with me anymore. Last night, she told me that she doesn’t think she can ever get her feelings back as “straight.”
So my question, Dan, is this: I’m hoping that she will tell me that it’s a phase. I’m hoping that she will experiment with being a lesbian and realize that she wants me back. I’m trying to hold on to something because this is just surreal. I’m in shock. What the fuck am I gonna do? I have no one else to go to. Help me. I’m falling apart. No witty acronym. Just sign me…—FUCKED
“The writer is in shock,” says Amity Pierce Buxton, “like most men and women whose wives or husbands announce they are gay or have same-gender attractions.” Buxton is the author of The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families and the executive director of the Straight Spouse Network (SSN), an organization that provides support, info, and resources to the straights in your shoes, FUCKED.
So is there hope for your marriage? Honestly, FUCKED, Buxton doesn’t sound too encouraging: “With shock often comes denial and wishful thinking that the marriage can last,” says Buxton. “In reality, most do not last. About a third of couples break up immediately after disclosure; another third stay together to sort things out for a year or two and then separate. The remaining third work jointly to make their marriages work, and, of these, half are still together after three years.” But your case sounds particularly unlikely to land in that final category. “In this man’s case, his wife sees herself as a lesbian, doesn’t want to have sex with him, and doesn’t want to have sex with any man.” Which doesn’t leave you a lot of options.
So, what should you do?
“Take some time to sort out what he wants, needs, and values so that he can communicate them honestly and calmly,” says Buxton. “In turn, his wife needs to do the same honest sharing. Honest communication like this helps couples work out a resolution that does not turn their relationship into one of lasting hostility. It’s a process that takes time, time, time.”
Buxton estimates that two million straight Americans are in “mixed-orientation marriages”—Hey there, Mrs. Haggard!—and while married men and women who come out as gay don’t have it easy—Hey there, Rev. Haggard!—they do have access to certain resources and a community. The straight spouses they leave behind—or don’t, in Mrs. Haggard’s case—often have it harder. SSN can hook you up with others who have gone through the same crap you’re now facing. You can get information about groups and online support at SSN’s Web site: straightspouse.org.
In other lesbian news…
The publisher and editor of a magazine for African-American gays and lesbians recently came out as an ex-lesbian. The news was splashed all over the cover of the most recent and, without a doubt, final issue of Venus (“Redeemed! 10 Ways to Get Out of ‘The Life’ If You Want Out!”). Charlene E. Cothran has found Jesus, and we’re encouraged to conclude that she no longer has any desire to bury her big stupid face in Halle Berry’s smokin’-hot crotch.
The American Taliban, predictably, are absolutely ecstatic about the news. They’re also annoyed that Cothran’s conversion hasn’t received much attention from the national media.
“Imagine a prominent conservative Christian publicly announcing that he has renounced heterosexuality and will henceforth and forever be homosexual,” writes Kelly Boggs, editor of the Baptist Message. “Try as I might, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine the mainstream press failing to report such news. Instead, there would be a media firestorm.”
Cothran’s prominence in the gay community is debatable (this pasty white fag had never heard of this dyke or her magazine until she came out as an ex-dyke), but this point is not debatable: Cothran is still a dyke. She may have renounced her homosexuality, but she has not managed to become, to use Boggs’ words, “henceforth and forever” heterosexual. In what has to be the most entertaining interview with a closet case since Ted Haggard discussed meth and male escorts with a TV reporter as his horrified wife and children sat beside him in the family minivan, Cothran told freelance journalist Clay Cane (claycane.blogspot.com) that….Actually, it’s such a delicious interview that it’s worth quoting from at some length:
So, what about you now really makes you heterosexual?
Charlene: “Nothing….My prayer was not: Fix me, repair me, and make me straight—that was not my prayer. My prayer was God make me whole in every sense of the word.”
Are you saying that you are not heterosexual?
Charlene: “I am saying that I am celibate right now. I’m not saying there won’t ever be a man in my life. You’re asking me about where I am and that’s all I can speak to. Today I am celibate….But…there is one thing I can say and one thing I will go on record and say—I will never be entangled with the bondage of lesbianism again.”
Are you physically attracted to men?
Charlene: “[pauses] I am physically attracted to the spirit of Christ right now.”
Are you still attracted to women or is that attraction completely gone?
Charlene: “I would say after 29 years of walking in the sin of lesbianism that if the devil were going to try and tempt me that he’s probably not going to send a football player, if you will, because that didn’t do it for me. You follow me?”
Yes, Charlene, we follow you. If the devil is going to tempt your ass, he’d better send Halle Berry and not William “Refrigerator” Perry. Because you’re not attracted to men. Except Jesus—and you’re not even attracted to the hot body (and blood?) of Christ, just to His “spirit.”
Um, Kelly Boggs? The mainstream media is ignoring Cothran because there’s nothing much to see here. Just another silly, insecure homo undone by the zap put on her head by her family (Cothran was disowned when she came out 20 years ago) and the faith in which she was raised. The celibate Cothran hasn’t been liberated from her homosexuality, just from the possibility of an intimate adult relationship. Getting right with her fictional bogeyman of a savior didn’t make Cothran straight. She’s still a ’mo—a slow ’mo, but a ’mo.—Dan Savage
Dan Savage’s books, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, are on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.