Category Archives: Humor

Grace and Frankie and the Huff Post

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I follow, fairly religiously, the Huff Post Queer Voices section. Partially this is because I am an Ally, but I also like to see what’s going on with Straight Spouses, which is sometimes a topic that is discussed there.

In the article link below, the series Grace and Frankie is used as a framework for a discussion about Straight Spouses and the reality of their experiences. I happen to enjoy the series very much, and while it may be a trigger for some serious emotions, it is a great show that uses humor and condenses a lot of the issues that we straight spouses deal with into each episode.

Watch it if you can; but remember that it may trigger some intense emotions in you.

Here is the Huff Post article, and I encourage you to read it so that you know you aren’t alone. Hugs to all of you on this roller coaster. It’s not easy, but there are so many of us out there cheering you on!

Thanks to Amity Buxton and  Kimberly Brooks Mazella for being a part of that article. You ladies are amazing and I am grateful to be able to know you.

3 Women Share The Moment They Found Out Their Husbands Are Gay

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

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Broke-Back to the Future

This is the final piece I wrote for the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine in the May 2013 issue.  Devon and I were blessed to be able to share snippets of our story and journey as we navigated the waters of his Big Reveal that he is gay.  In it, I refer to the movie Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005.  It was a turning point for Devon and his desire to finally come clean to me.  Thank you, Oliver X, for letting us share our story through your publication.

BrokeBack to the Future

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You know, years can pass by after a major relational hurt in your life, and even though you’ve moved on, forgiven someone and have healed your relationship, something random can trigger those old feelings again. It’s like Doc kidnapping you in his DeLorean and forcing you to relive your crap in the past. You may just find yourself right back to the very moments of pain years earlier.

This is why I have avoided the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember lying in bed with Devon one night, almost nine years ago, having our usual chit-chat, which often included conversations about movies. Devon fancies himself a movie critic, so we usually debated about the value of various films. This particular discussion led us to talking about what movies we wanted to see.

“I really want to see the movie Brokeback Mountain,” he casually stated.

My reaction fell directly in line with my Judeo-Christian, Leave it To Beaver, beliefs at the time. I dismissed him outright by saying: “No way. That’s disgusting. I don’t want to see two guys having it out in the wilderness. Plus, they cheat on their wives, all for their own desires. It’s gross and wrong and I can’t believe you’d want to see that.”

He hummed and hawed a bit, mentioned something about the fact that it had wonderful cinematography and the conversation ended there.

As an English teacher, this conversation would fall under the literary term foreshadowing. Indeed, five months later, the truth came out of the closet.

Lotr-Brokeback-Mountain
Lord of the Rings: My favorite movie. I thought this was a funny comparison.

I often look back on that conversation and wonder if he was trying to open up and tell me something. As usual, I dismissed him and said something hurtful without even knowing it. We had lots of conversations before his Big Reveal that I view now as clues that I should have been less naïve.

When I found out that the turning point in Devon’s realization that he is a gay man was due to him viewing Brokeback Mountain (he actually left town to watch it and I didn’t know about it), I despised that movie even more. Devon revealed this to the readers of Same Sides in one of our installments of the Reno Tahoe Tonight several months ago. He mentioned that I still hadn’t watched it because of the hurt I felt from it years ago, but that maybe someday I would.

Well, I did. Over Spring Break. And it hurt. A lot.

I will tell you that the scenes with the two main characters “having it out” in Wyoming weren’t really as disturbing as they might have been to me eight years ago. The thoughts that I had during those moments were ones of me picturing Devon watching them and his possible realizations that he was unhappy with his life and our marriage as well as the fears that he may have had in telling me.

BrokeBackMountainWedding

The scenes which hurt the most were the ones of the deception that occurred in the lives of their marriages. Good God. I knew almost exactly what those ladies were feeling, especially the wife at home with her beautiful young babies, realizing that her husband wasn’t finding true fulfillment in their relationship… and not knowing why. There was deceit, to boot. The shock she felt when she saw her husband in the arms of another man was so real to me that I had to stop the film in order to catch my breath so I could keep watching. I even grabbed a glass of wine at that point.

And yet, she didn’t say anything. She wanted to deny it was happening. She let her marriage deteriorate and allowed her husband to live a lie. Their marriage was one big sham and she allowed this, not just him.

The interesting thing about the movie, ultimately, was the cultural era and time frame in which it was set. These guys literally couldn’t live openly. They accepted their fate and continued with their charade because they had no other choice. One of them was brutally killed because of it.

It was just so sad.

As I watched it, old wounds were opened in my heart. These were wounds I never wanted to see again. I questioned my decision to rent it when I finished it, sobbing uncontrollably like I did eight years ago when I first confronted Devon jokingly by saying, “What are you then? Gay or something?”

I had to work through those things all over again. But you know what? It only took me five minutes. As soon as I started to think about all of the blessings that have come from his truthfulness with me, I became the New Emily again, instantly.

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This New Emily has so much to be thankful for, and she owes it all to Devon’s Big Reveal.

1) I am no longer judgmental toward people who are different than me, especially the beautiful LGBT people in this world.

2) I am no longer living in a marriage where my husband isn’t able to be fulfilled. I can find someone who will be fulfilled by me and we can fulfill each other completely.

3) I walk in truthfulness and bask in its light.

4) I still have Devon in my life. In fact, I know ALL of Devon, not just the parts that he was willing to reveal when we were married.

5) My kids see us as transparent humans, willing to accept, willing to forgive, and willing to parent together. We even have a wonderful step parent in Felipe. We are all blessed beyond measure.

6) I can relate to people. All kinds of people. I can relate to mistakes, erroneous thinking, changed hearts and people who are hurting.

7) And well… I get to write about it. Devon gets to live openly in a loving relationship without fear of being killed for his love of Felipe. He didn’t have to cheat on me for years with another guy in order to meet his needs at his core. Sure, there’s still hatred and misconceptions out there, but the tide is changing and I get to be in the thick of it.

8) I now grasp what I’ve always desired to understand since I was a little girl: true unconditional love and forgiveness of others.

As we close out our column in the Reno Tahoe Tonight, our family wants to thank Oliver Ex and our readers for allowing us to share our story with you. It has been our goal since working through our issues to be transparent, loving and provide encouragement to others because of our lives. We are honored to have experienced what we have gone through so we can spread hope to others.

So hey, Doc, thanks for the ride in the DeLorean. I needed that.

Love, Emily

Great Scott!
Great Scott!

 

 

 

 

I Knew It! Now I’m Going to Punch You in the Coccyx!

When Devon first came out to me, I simply did not know how to handle telling people. silence1

As in, telling people at all.  I felt like I needed to keep it confidential because I just knew in my heart of hearts that he would “choose” to live the heterosexual lifestyle we had always lived and that his homosexuality was just a struggle (a.k.a. “sin”) that was his to fight.  And I was going to help him fight it by doing everything he needed me to do.

And so, I initially chose not to tell anyone that we knew, even my own family, because if he came around and realized that we could work through it, I didn’t want him to have to backtrack and have to explain himself to friends, family and colleagues.

In addition, Devon actually told me that I couldn’t tell anyone during our discussion after he revealed to me that he was gay.  The people in our church circles?  Well, they would likely jump to conclusions that he was some kind of pedophile, since we worked with the youth.  Perhaps an exorcism or a “Matthew 18” reprimand would happen.  This was mortifying, both to Devon and me.  The people he knew professionally?  He was afraid of losing his job over it.  My family?  That was an absolute no-no, especially because he didn’t want to be looked at as a home-wrecker, a person living in sin, or be lectured by anyone who felt his struggles were a choice and that he could “pray the gay away.”  (Honestly, he has always been afraid of my dad.  He was the last person Devon wanted to have find out.)

The submissive wife in me at the time obeyed his desires.  I could see some of the logic in it, but the biggest part of it was that I didn’t want to do anything that would potentially push him away from me.  If I “outed” him (which he felt was his job to do and not mine) I would be damaging any chances of him choosing our marriage over his homosexual core.  I actually felt that everything fell on me to handle this the right way.

What was the right way?

cryingOnBeachSo I isolated myself.  I cried alone.  I drank lots of wine.  I took day trips to Tahoe when the kids were in school and just cried on the beach, all alone. I sought the Lord in prayer with primal screams out in my van in the garage after the kids and Devon had gone to bed and my mind wouldn’t stop spinning.  I went to work out at the gym at 3 a.m. for four hours just to escape for awhile.  I sought online support groups, of which there were very few at the time.  The main Christian one that I reached out to, Exodus International, was a complete joke… they didn’t have any answers or advice that was based on the reality of my situation.  They existed for the sole purpose of turning gay people straight.  Unbeknownst to me, Devon had attended an Exodus International support group meeting the first year of our marriage while he attended KU.  He went running from that meeting and never wanted to go back, and ultimately, the spouses were an after-thought.  The Straight Spouse Network was around, and while they seemed to have a grip on how to get me some support through chatting with others who had experienced this, they did very little to address homosexuality, the straight spouse and the kids in light of our Christian beliefs.  They did support staying together if I wanted to, but they were a secular group… and that didn’t jive with my reasons for staying.  God wanted us together.  He hates divorce.  I couldn’t be a part of a group that was okay with divorce or didn’t espouse Christian beliefs.

Yes, I used to think this way.  The Straight Spouse Network seems to have more to offer these days, but a decade ago, they weren’t as extensive as they are now.  They are still considered a secular group, and anyone coming from a Christian background has an added layer of ick to deal with.

And so I floundered.

About 2 months after his Big Reveal, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I told our best friends about it over the phone at 4 a.m. in my van in the garage.  And then I called my sister.

Devon came unglued.  Enraged.  Scared.  And he blamed me for wanting to “out” him to everyone.

Devon was very used to being in control of his life.  He had to.  Looking back, he had a lot to cover up in his own mind and wanted to look like something on the outside that he wasn’t on the inside.  I am not joking when I refer to him as having OCD.  He may not have been clinically diagnosed with it, but he displayed many symptoms.  Ultimately, he nit-picked at things that didn’t matter because it gave him a sense of control when he couldn’t control the things that really mattered, like his homosexual leanings.  The kids and I got the brunt of his controlling issues in the form of having a neat and hyper-organized home, portraying perfection while in public settings,  showing that outwardly he was the head of the household and I was his submissive wife, and the kids were perfectly behaved, just to name a few.

Essentially, I was enabling him to continue to live in the closet by remaining silent to others about the traumatic Big Reveal.

LineInTheSandAfter a couple of months of counseling with a wonderfully non-judgmental Christian man, Larry, I set up a boundary that Devon would ultimately be unable to keep:  He had to not be friends with Felipe, whom he claimed was just a friend and nothing else.  The ultimatum was that if he continued to remain friends with him, then he would have to move out.  My line in the sand was drawn.

It lasted two weeks.

Then I told my dad.  He flew out a couple of days later to confront Devon as he moved out that weekend.  Yes, it was ugly.  Needless to say, there was no “repentance” on Devon’s part, no realization that he had made a mistake, no asking for forgiveness, and the final words were not pretty… from both sides.

Finally, I was somewhat of an enemy to Devon.  He was constantly accusing or assuming that I was out there to spread the news that he was gay.

I wasn’t.  I kept things as quiet as possible… until I felt I needed the support, regardless of his wishes.  I usually let him know before I told someone, but it wouldn’t have mattered.  He got angry whether I told him beforehand or not.

This is the part of being the straight spouse in a Mixed Orientation Marriage that is one of the toughest issues.  The straight spouse feels completely alone in dealing with it.  No How-To Manual, no step-by-step tired and true way of dealing with a husband or wife coming out.

Gradually, I involved a very small group of people from our old church to help us in any way that they could.  The men tried to meet with Devon, which was fruitless, and they actually believed him when he said he wasn’t cheating on me with Felipe.  The ladies met with me through Bible study and prayer, and they offered their support.  And when it came down to it, the majority of them (barring J and K) felt that my decision to divorce was unfounded.  It was ugly, actually, and I was very hurt.  I still work through that to this day, and my bitterness toward how they handled things is lessening.  I would love to have them ask me to forgive them, but it was much easier for them to reject me as a scapegoat than to admit that maybe their own thinking and handling of things was wrong.

So be it.

None of the above mentioned people had any clue that Devon had struggles in this area until they found out from me.  It was always a shock when people would find out.

But, there have been a handful of people, mostly those who were friends of ours that were not in our family or Christian circle, who didn’t appear to be too shocked.

Here is the phrase I hated hearing the most from them once I finally started sharing my story more openly:  “I knew he was gay from the first day I met him” or even more expressive by proclaiming with a smile or some sort of joy “I KNEW it!”

To put it bluntly, don’t ever say that to someone who tells you their crushing heartbreak of a story about their husband or wife coming out.  EVER.  Even if you think it.  Just DON’T SAY IT.

It is hurtful.  I remember feeling like I was being punched in the coccyx when someone proclaimed their all-knowing gay-dar to me.

I was married to the dude.  I had sex at least three times that produced three kids, loved him, he loved me… and you knew the whole time?

Seriously, shut up.  Not helpful.  At all.

And if you really did know, because apparently your reaction shows that this scenario is all about your wisdom, why didn’t you tell me?  I realize that ultimately people don’t think before they speak as often as they should, but this is the very last thing you should ever say to someone who is experiencing a spouse coming out of the closet in a heterosexual marriage.

I will also admit that even if you had told me because you really did know, I might not have believed you.  Love causes a blindness that borders on the irrational at times.

It is certainly true that I can now look back after finding out the truth on that day of Devon’s Big Reveal, and see some signs.  But they aren’t as clear as the insensitive proclamation “I knew it!” would make it seem.

Please be aware of how you react to the news when someone you know experiences this life-altering event.  If you have said this to someone in the past, I encourage you to ask them to forgive you for it.  It might not bug them now, but I am guessing at the time that it felt a bit like being slapped in the face… or punched in the coccyx.

SlapInTheFaceComic

That was a little bit about me and the early days of finding out (nearly a decade ago), being isolated, finding bravery to tell people and the very worst thing you can say to someone.  There is so much more to the story than that, but I hope that what I have written here helps you to not feel so alone.  Because you aren’t.  And I love you unconditionally.

And truly, my life is beautiful now, so don’t forget that part of my story.  I always want to encourage and not discourage or feed anger that you may rightfully have.  Be in the moment, work through your stuff, but don’t forget to keep moving forward, even if you feel like you’re walking backwards.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

What has been your experience as it relates to telling others?  I would love for you to comment below here, but if you would like to keep it more confidential, you can always email me by using the contact form below. 

That Damn Wedding Album

I’m a clutter whore.

I keep anything and everything.  It used to drive the OCD man crazy.

If Devon hadn’t have come out of the closet, our differences on our housekeeping philosophies would have driven us apart, I’m sure of it.  But you know, gay trumps clutter any day.

So when it finally came time to move out of our foreclosed home, I had been living there by myself for nearly a year.  The house was disgusting with piles of ka-ka everywhere.  I even had kept my Christmas tree up until April.  No kidding.  I think I kind of rebelled against him in a twisted way with my new-found freedom of not having to keep the place neat and orderly all the time.  I now despise June Clever, who wore prim and proper little dresses with pearls and carried a vacuum in her purse.

Like seriously, I pretty much didn’t fold one ounce of laundry for I think 5 months.  Ask my kids.  I would simply fish through a Mt. Everest of clean laundry everyday in order to get dressed.  They used to lie on it like a giant Lovesac and watch Hannah Montana.

I’ll bet it was uber comfy.

Wait.  Who am I kidding?  I would still be doing that today if my oldest daughter didn’t like to fold laundry so much (this is beyond my understanding).  Thank you, Devon, for passing on that mutant gene.

You can only imagine what it was like when it came time to sort through household junk and decide what he would keep and what I would keep.  I pretty much just wanted to leave it all there and start over.  I considered pulling a trailer trash move and walking away from everything just so I wouldn’t have to sort through and organize things.

Devon’s solution was to come over when I wasn’t there to find the things he wanted.   I was glad about that arrangement.  I definitely didn’t want to hear a lecture from him about my slovenly ways.  I’m sure he took a look around, baby barfed a few times on the dry brown lawn, and set to work.  I had already given him a list of things I definitely wanted and set a few things aside.

But, that damn wedding album.

That was a doozy.  I really didn’t want the stupid thing because at the time, I was still really struggling with my hurt and anger.  He didn’t want it that badly either because it made him cry.  Actually, everything makes him cry.  He’s the biggest bawl baby ever.

But we knew we needed to keep it.  You know, our kids really loved that album.  For me it produced hurt.  For them it produced nostalgia.  They loved us both.  Without the two of us marrying, they wouldn’t have existed.  That is a very amazing thing, really.

I put my hurt aside, he put his tears aside, and we kept it.  I gave it to him for safe keeping because I really wanted all of the scrapbooks I had created.  There were times that I considered cutting out his face from the pictures out of spite, believe me.

Today, I am so glad we kept it.  With time, my hurt healed.  We worked on our relationship to make it as amicable as possible, which also took time.  Today, I can sit down with the kids and look at that album with them.  They can even ask me questions about our first date, what it was like in the hospital when they were born and how Daddy reacted, what our favorite vacations were together as an intact family… and I don’t get sad anymore.  That one really took time.

It has been so important to the kids though.  When they see that we aren’t bitter toward each other, at least with our demeanor and words, then they feel more secure.

At this point in my journey, I can finally look at the pictures from that day and not feel bitter that Devon hid his homosexuality from me.  For a very long time, I felt like our marriage was a sham.  Once I finally accepted as truth that I was the only woman he ever loved, I felt free to believe that he truly loved me and that my relationship with him was real.

Keep that wedding album, people.  You might be glad that you did someday.  I fully believe that if you work through the bitterness, the betrayal and the lies that were lived by your gay spouse, you will make peace with the life you lived.  It is genuine.  Your love was genuine.  And your kids need to know that.

Oh, and don’t cut out any faces.  That looks freaky.

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We went on tons of family vacations to Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, California. This is one of my favorite pictures of us. I still have it framed and displayed in a prominent place.

Blessings, Emily