Straight Talk Blog

Why Straight Spouses Need Support During Pride Month

Why Straight Spouses Need Support During Pride Month

By Kristin Kalbli

At OurPath, we know that when June rolls around each year, many straight spouses struggle. It’s not news that June is internationally celebrated as LGBT+ Pride month. What began as a righteous and necessary protest march for rights and equality several decades ago, has shifted into a enthusiastic celebration of LGBT+ sexualities and identities. Rainbows are seemingly everywhere. In stores, on clothing, on drink cans, candy wrapping, buses, crosswalks, etc. Sometimes, for straight spouses it can feel like there is no escaping the rainbows.

We have spoken and written plenty about how OurPath has a long history of supporting LGBT+ rights and equality. It’s on the first page of our website. We are not shy about saying it. We understand that with rights and acceptance comes (hopefully) fewer and fewer closets, and that means fewer and fewer closeted marriages, the kinds of mixed orientation marriages many straight spouses were in for years, even decades, without knowledge or consent.

So, we don’t need to talk about how we support LGBT+ rights this June. That goes without saying, it’s in the organization’s DNA. Instead, we need to talk about straight spouses, and the support straight spouses need during Pride month.

Straight spouses need support while watching their former partners move on to live completely different, reportedly authentic lives without them — new lives that make them question the authenticity of their marriages, new lives that make them question if they were living a lie, new lives that make them question if they were ever truly loved by their closeted spouses. It can be hard to see pictures of your ex-wife at a pride parade, smiling at the camera with your children and her new partner – especially when you know her claim that her new life is her authentic life means that her old life with you was, by default, inauthentic.

Straight spouses need support while grieving the loss of their families, family homes, family traditions, family histories and time with children. Disclosure and discovery bring with them the knowledge that those family histories are not what straight spouses thought or believed. They herald a new normal, often of shared custody, divided households, and new traditions that can be difficult to envision. In can be hard to see a steady stream of Pride posts and not feel that these celebrations come at a cost, that cost being your family as you knew it.

Straight spouses need support while trying to make sense of the lies, deflection, gaslighting, infidelity and other behaviors that are often (though not always) part of protecting closeted identities. It can be hard to smile at a rainbow flag when you are still reeling from finding Grindr on your husband’s phone. It can be hard to cheer on the LGBT+ community at the precise moment you learn that you are in a mixed orientation marriage, whether that’s by disclosure or discovery.

Straight spouses need support as they question their reality, their own judgment and their own history. When straight spouses discover the life they were living was not true, they often lose their trust in themselves and others. They can begin to second guess and doubt themselves, and it can take a long time to build that trust back. It’s hard to celebrate that “love is love” at a time when you aren’t sure you’re ever going to be able to love again.

These feelings are messy, complicated, and hard. That does not mean they are bigoted or hateful. After all, closets are messy, complicated, and hard. Mixed Orientation Marriages are messy, complicated, and hard. Straight spouses have a right to feel and process all the emotions (from grief to anger and beyond) that accompany messy, complicated and hard disclosures or discoveries, and they have a right to support, to tell their stories, and to heal in their own time. And they have a right to struggle with Pride month. They have a right to feel messy, complicated and “some kind of way,” during June.

It’s ok to feel all those feelings. It’s ok to see the celebrations and rainbows and parades and feel sad, or confused, or even angry. It’s ok to feel like collateral damage in someone else’s war with themselves. It’s ok to feel like you were run over as your spouse busted out of the closet door with a new boyfriend.

It’s even ok to really, really dislike rainbows for awhile.


14 responses to “Why Straight Spouses Need Support During Pride Month”

  1. Nessa Parks says:

    This was so helpful. Thank you!

  2. Anne Violanti says:

    Thank you for your suppiert!

  3. Peg Sage says:

    Love this. Feel all of this to my very core.
    We can not, should not be shut out, crushed, made to feel less than in the noise of the parades. We are very real, uniquely heartbroken & searching for inner strength that has been shattered.

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m only a month into this process and I am finding that the rainbow is quite triggering. A “facebook friend”, who doesn’t know my situation, keeps sharing rainbow posts about how important it is to support LGTBQ community. Yes, I agree, but I also want to scream.

  5. Steph says:

    Thank you for this. Yes, yes and more yes. People, friends, family openly support my AMAB partner while I’m crying myself to sleep. June is also our anniversary month and now that we are separating, it’s all A LOT. Sometimes you just need to know you aren’t alone.

  6. Avery says:

    Yes! This expresses much of what I am feeling. I always felt like an ally. But once I discovered by accident that my spouse of 47 years believes he is a transgender woman, with all the lies, infidelity, betrayal, sneaking around, denigration and putting my personal safety at risk – it is very difficult to see all of the celebration and at times, corporate trendiness, about Pride month – and feel that the unquestioning embrace of it and anything goes. I will never look at it the same again.

  7. Olivier says:

    I found out about a month and half ago that my Wife of 25 years identified as a lesbian and this post resonates deeply with what I am going through right now.
    As a straight dude that grew up when LGBTQ+ was still very much closeted and I have learned to understand, empathize with, accept and support people in LGBTQ+ community. But right now, I don’t feel capable to show enthusiasm and I am trying hard to restrain my anger.
    I am looking forward to the day when the grieving is over!
    Thank you for posting that. It really helps

  8. Kelli says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  9. Erica says:

    Thank you for this post. I feel like collateral damage left behind on my gay spouse’s journey to finding his truth. Finding his truth is celebrated while my life is forgotten. He has excused his deception and the damage he has caused me as necessary for him to move on and be happy with his life. While I understand his struggles to come out, I remain hurt and angry that he used me until he gained the courage to come out.

  10. Emma says:

    This post helped me a lot. Thank you. I felt so triggered, forgotten and lonely today. It helps to know I am not alone

  11. Ekta says:

    I have been a supporter of LGBTQ community and still am, but what I completely disagree with “they having the right to use someone because they are scared to reveal their identity”. That’s more selfishness, As there are more laws promotions the community, equally there should be laws against this mistreatment of straight spouses.

  12. Krista Morris says:

    Thanks for is blog post. Why is it necessary to celebrate that lifestyle for a whole month anyway? I am still very hurt and angry after 28 years of being deceived.

  13. J says:

    Thank you. I’m glad this post allows me to be sad or triggered without being bigoted or wrong.
    Thank you. I was wondering today “Do we have a flag? I’d like a flag” A flag for spouses who are hanging in there even though they’re not totally sure where ‘there’ is.
    My partner is collecting flags and pins and books… There is a ‘non-binary persons day’ and colour scheme. It might be nice to be part of something. What would it look like, our flag? I might even like my partner to make it for me. A “thank you for hanging in there” flag, perhaps.

  14. Ellen Marie Finnegan says:

    OMG.. I hear all the screams… I have never been as hoarse in my life as when I figured it all out after 27 years. Getting through this is equivalent to a cervical stenosis trying to give birth.

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