Category Archives: In The News

Politics and Tango-ing

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Since my experience on the TED Talk stage this winter, I have been mum on my website. Politics became my world and it was difficult to filter my life through anything but policies in education during my bid for our school district’s Board of Trustee position. I didn’t win in the primaries, but had an amazing time learning firsthand the process of grassroots campaigning and stretching myself in the world of civic duties.

 

Right after my TED Talk, my ex husband, Devon, also threw his hat in the ring for a position with the Nevada State Senate. He is still in the running and doing well; I have joined his campaign, along with my three kiddos and his husband, Felipe, to walk and knock on doors to help overturn the Republican majority in our state’s capitol in Carson City, Nevada. He stands an excellent chance, and the support at the national level to help him get there has been amazing.

When I look back on our lives, before the disclosure of him being a gay man living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage without my knowledge while he did all he could to become straight, I often pictured myself standing by him on a stage, supporting him as he sought an office with the Republican party. How ironic that I am still standing by him in a different way, as we all marched in the Reno Gay Pride parade with so many supporters, cheering him on to make a difference in the lives of people in Northern Nevada.

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I am glad I did my Ted Talk about my experience with him. Little did I know that when I was chosen for this opportunity, my transparency would help us both in showing that while there are many troubles in this life that we cannot predict, healing is possible and impacting others can happen in real, tangible ways. We are real people with real struggles that want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Life is definitely stranger than fiction, to be sure.

Politics aside, I have met many straight spouses along this journey. Most of us want harmony and peace in our relationships, and strive to make things amicable. Unfortunately, the adage “it takes two to tango” is more true than I can sometimes relate to. So many straight spouses experience narcissism, selfishness and untruthfulness from our LGBTQ spouses, that it is difficult to know how to encourage those who ask questions that I cannot relate to through my own experience with Devon. We had our tough times, to be clear. He messed up, but so did I. Somehow, with time and hard work, we made it to where we are today.

(Are there relationships that cannot be healed? Of course, especially those that are damaging to a person, emotionally, physically or spiritually. If that’s the case, tango-ing should not be attempted. I am speaking pragmatically to those that stand a chance.)

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When there aren’t two people tango-ing, bitterness and defensiveness occurs, often from both sides of the isle. We feel the need to protect ourselves and salvage something from a relationship that was based on dishonesty, particularly from a spouse who was hiding their sexual identity. There really IS no how-to book on how to make it through this road that so many have travelled because we are dealing with people and hurts that happen in relationships.

It seems that there are more negative outcomes than positive ones from the perspective of straight spouses. The advice that I gave in my TED Talk for the LGBTQ spouse in a Mixed Orientation Marriage is often unheard and unheeded. It makes me sad, but that does not mean that I won’t continue to speak out for both sides, within the perspective of my straight spouse experience.

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The one thing that heartens me when I hear from people, are the messages coming from LGBTQ spouses who have come out to their straight spouses, especially when they ask: What can I do to help my spouse who is hurt? My heart feels some hope for their relationship and future healing.

I wish there were more of those emails than the ones of pain and betrayal, though I welcome all dialogue. One of the things that I see as a common thread is many LGBTQ spouses who write OpEds in places like the Huffington Post Queer Voices section who make it all about the gay experience and overshadow their spouses who were hurt. In all honesty, I would love to see more LGBTQ people write in defense of their straight spouses and their experience. There are a few out there who do, but it isn’t happening enough.

I recognize the few of you who do attempt to show the same kind of empathy that many of us straight spouses try to show to the LGBTQ experience. People like Chet DeRouen, who speaks lovingly and transparently about his own experience and that of his ex-wife’s, Christa. They have a beautiful family, even though we differ politically. Here’s Chet’s blog if you want to check it out: https://whyamigayblog.wordpress.com

I have recently befriended a lovely couple in Northern California who have been on quite the journey together. They have taken their time, exhausted all possible avenues of keeping their marriage intact, and have made the difficult decision to divorce. They have finally announced their decision and life experience to the public, and I am thankful for their transparency. I know that they will still have difficulties, but the thing is, they are traversing this road together as much as they can.

Luanne, you have my heart and my ear anytime you need support. Matt, I am thankful that in our conversations you were willing to acknowledge the need to not overshadow the straight spouse experience, even while traversing your unchartered territory of coming out. It is people like you and Luanne who help ME to know I am not alone, and that healing really is possible.

Here is their most recent blog post that is short and sweet. Hopefully other LGBTQ spouses in Mixed Orientation Marriages will read it and take to heart the delicate issues that are not one-sided.

https://medium.com/@mattnightingale/living-the-truth-d2058f937516#.6kzb018wd

It is also my hope that more LGBTQ spouses who have come out of the closet to their straight spouses will begin to share with humility, in places like the Huff Post, how to support the ones who often feel overshadowed: the straight spouse. When two actually do tango, things can be stranger than fiction, and a safe place for healing can happen.

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If it isn’t possible to Tango and make things amicable, take care of you. Below is a little something I like to look at with frequency. It keeps me focused on the larger picture of my own personal motto: Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others.

Love,

Emily Reese

InTheEndBuddhasInstructions

The Conflict Avoider

 

Check out TEDxUniversityOfNevada’s Facebook page for details of the Jan. 23rd event. Find it here at https://www.facebook.com/events/840345259417185/

 

Without revealing too much of my upcoming TEDxTalk in January, I have received some feedback about it that has been deemed controversial.

This is quite weird to me, because I have been a conflict avoider for much of my life. It has always been my goal to heal, to bridge gaps and to encourage. When I laid out my plans and practiced my speech in front of others, I never dreamed that what I would be saying would be controversial.

Clearly, if you have read my writings, you will know that I consider myself an Ally, even though it took my ex coming out of the closest a decade ago to get me to that point. I can relate to those who think that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, because I used to think that way. It was easy to think that way until I actually experienced my husband coming out of the closet, which is something many people can relate to once they are deeply touched by his issue, because of a spouse or a child leaving their closet. I had all of the answers before that…you bet I did. But once I knew the truth, I was forced to grapple with my beliefs.

The interesting thing is, the above isn’t even the controversial part of my TEDTalk. I am not even going to address it. It is controversial because I speak directly to the LGBTQ spouse who comes out and call on them to make the situation better by telling the truth and asking for forgiveness for specific things they have done to hurt their straight spouse.

What is so controversial about that? Isn’t that what everyone should do who is worth their salt in life and who wishes to live in integrity? It’s not like I am asking an LGBTQ person to seek forgiveness for being gay. It is about their actions and choices that hurt someone who didn’t deserve it.

I can guarantee that all of us straight spouses want to hear humility from our LGBTQ spouses, after the truth has been revealed, because so many times we don’t hear that. If you are one of the lucky ones to have experienced your spouse asking for forgiveness with humility, you will get it. It really helps us to heal and move forward.

As a side note, isn’t that what every spouse needs to hear from their husband or wife, no matter what the betrayal is?

So, even though this is apparently controversial, I have been encouraged to own my content and say what I plan on saying. If that causes controversy, then maybe in needs to be said.

So much for conflict avoidance. Sally forth, Emily. Let’s do this!

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

Giving Advice


When your spouse comes out to you, the burden that they have secretly carried is lifted off their shoulders, more or less, and gets placed squarely on your back without consent from you. It is an awful thing to grapple with, and while they can finally be free to begin some sort of a process of usually moving on (even though it certainly isn’t easy for them), you are left holding a huge weight that you never expected to have to carry.

Unfortunately, our modern world often leaves us feeling ignored while their bravery is celebrated. It is most often left to us to pick up the scattered pieces of our narrative, without much support from society…and sometimes from the people closest to us.

This happens time and again to us Straights.

I am preparing a TEDx talk for this coming January that addresses the above issue in part. It is pretty exciting for me personally, and I hope I represent us well.

This is the first thing my students see when they walk in my classroom at Rainshadow Community Charter High School.

 

This morning I read an excellent post on the Straight Spouse Network’s blog section. In it, they set the record “straight” about some poorly handled advice given in a column from the UK. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I thought I would share it with you. My hope is that it helps you feel encouraged and lends insight to those who may need to support you, when they are unsure to how to help.

The Straight Spouse Network is an excellent resource for many straight spouses. Thanks for stopping by here to get encouragement, too. You can email me anytime and I will always do my best to NOT say the things that the advice columnist in the UK did.

I get you. I love you. You are not alone.

Here’s the link: Giving Good Advice in the Worst Way -Straight Spouse Network

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

 

One of my favorite songs ever by Stevie Nicks, “Landslide”

 

What Your Kids Probably Want

 Having kids and going through a spouse coming out is horribly painful and difficult. Besides each family’s situation being unique in how it is handled, our kids are our biggest responsibility in helping them come out of this on the other side, as healthy and happy. I think the kid in the video link below says it all.

What do you think?

Kids take our cues on how to view and handle this tough situation. Protect yourself and protect your kids. Gosh darn it! What a difficult thing to do.

Much love to you all. I hope this little girl can give everyone the insight and wisdom we need.

Click here to view the video.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily and Her Three Little Birds

Hitting Home

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Bonnie Kaye’s life has impacted many straight spouses over the years. Her story and writings have given encouragement and insight into the tough road we straights have laid in front of us to trudge down.

Instead of writing some of my own words, since I have been quite busy with school st arting for my students at Rainshadow Community Charter High School, I thought this would be an excellent article to share. Enjoy it, gain insight and hopefully some encouragement from it.

Also, I love you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

Bonnie Kaye’s Storyhttp://www.out.com/news-opinion/2015/8/13/meet-women-who-pick-pieces-after-their-husbands-come-out

Speak Up, For Christ’s Sake

I need to vent.

One of the things that I am getting tired of hearing is the phrase: “But not all Christians are like that.” Or better yet: “Don’t judge me based on what [the right-wing flavor of the day] said. They are wrong.”

Like: I am a Christian, and I don’t agree with that. There seem to be so many of you.

Trust me when I say that I understand. I do. You know why? Because I used to say things like that myself.

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But you know what I also did? I sat in silence among Christians, politicians and groups who misrepresented the name of Christ. Ultimately, I was a follower. I would rather sit there with my mouth closed than rock the boat against my pastor, Bible study leader, uber conservative friends, or my family. I would say things to others, usually in some sort of anonymity, that I am a Christian and I don’t think that way. I would act all offended, when really, I was too chicken to do anything other than defend myself with those words. Why didn’t I do more? Why did it take my ex coming out of the closet and me becoming the scorn of judgement before I could wake up and say something more than that?

The reason? Fear.

And if you are a Christian, then you know that there is no fear in love. If you are afraid to speak up to someone or about something, then that circle or idea is not loving, in my opinion. Christ is likely being used as a pawn for some sort of unloving justification.

And Christ wouldn’t want to be used in that way, wouldn’t you agree? (If you don’t agree, I am okay with that. I am going to love you anyway, and speak up anyway.)

I say all of the previous to challenge you. If you get it, if you don’t want to be associated with extremism, if you surround yourself with others who want to speak out but don’t, then I say boldly: you are part of the problem.

Silence is sometimes called for. The adage “Nothing says screw you better than nothing at all” can speak volumes. But also, at times, if you say nothing at all, you are perpetuating a problem.

Stop doing that, especially if you are afraid to rock the boat. If you are afraid, then maybe that means you should say something. Maybe that’s your conscience or even the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Stop being a follower of men and their ideas. Think for yourself. Towing the line is dangerous, especially with people’s livelihood.

For instance, legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

If you get offended when people post things against laws that seek to keep LGBTQ people from having basic secular freedoms, like marriage equality, then take it as a clue that others see Christ followers as bigoted. I don’t for a second believe that myself, but you should care that others do feel that way. Isn’t how the world views Christ important to you if you are ambassadors of Unconditional Love? If you are willing to see that and admit that it is their truth, don’t just say “I am a Christian and don’t feel that way.” How about you speak out against it instead of defending yourself? Then your words will match your actions.

Take baby steps, if you are too afraid to share your thoughts on social media. Why don’t you start with your church? Those you fellowship with? Your pastors, even? If you are confident in your salvation because of Christ, you should no have fear.

If you cringe at the thought of confronting those around you with civil conversation, then I will be even more bold and say that you really are part of the problem. Starting within the Church is the only way true change is going to come about. People like Dobson and Glenn Beck won’t last as long if they don’t have a following of people who are willing to agree with their ill-advised ideas (like Civil War will happen if Gays are given the right to marry). When these ideas are expressed and leaders in the church or followers of Christ don’t speak out against such nonsense, then their silence equals condoning.

Again, this must start within the Church. So if you find yourself defending Christianity by stating “Don’t lump all Christians under the same umbrella,” then do something more than that. Be proactive. Challenge others to think and not follow.

If you refuse to see the damage being done by a “handful” of people, if you refuse to hear the other side on how that thinking is keeping others from unconditional love, and if you are afraid to speak up toward those who are hurting the cause of Christ…

Then your silence speaks volumes. You are condoning those ideas.

Don’t be the three monkeys. DO something.

Speak up, For Christ’s Sake,

Emily

P.S. A friend of mine had an excellent point: Everyone speaks at a different volume, in different ways, and everyone has their own calling. If your calling isn’t to speak out against injustices toward LGBTQ people, then whatever it is, do so according to your own convictions and gifts. Just…don’t be silent. Don’t cover your eyes. And above all, don’t live in fear.

“A Large Pizza, Please, With Extra Stones”

I have been very quiet these last few weeks on my blog. I suppose it’s because I have been preoccupied with watching all of the news sites and trying to understand case law regarding the “religious freedom” bills floating around out there.

Depending on where you are in your journey with finding out about your spouse being out of the closet or in denial, these happenings might not interest you or they hit too close to home. For me, it has been nearly a decade since my ex’s Big Reveal, so I am currently on a path of fighting against LGBTQ discrimination. Why? Because after researching the heck out of this stuff to the best of my ability, and knowing the thoughts of fundamentalist Christians since I used to be one, I am incensed by what is happening in our country.

If you would like to understand further why I would be an Ally in light of my husband coming out of the closet, I best explained it in the Huffington Post with my article The Real Learning Channel. Take a look at it if you want.

If you choose to read further, please know that this is not a typical post for this blog. But since I need to vent, it is the best outlet I have.

First, let me state some facts from my point of view.

1) These Religious Freedom Resoration Acts (RFRA) that are being adopted by states are not unusual. The federal government passed such a thing in the 90’s, and many states have since used them verbatim for their own state.

2) The ones that are so contentious (like the one that caused the uproar in Indiana) are NOT worded the same as the federal and state RFRA’s that have passed. The issue at hand is how they changed the language. The biggest change, among some others, is that they define “person” to include a for-profit business or corporation, with religious rights. This follows on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which granted corporations the same religious rights as individuals.

3) In turn, because now a “person” can choose to deny a citizen of the United States services due to religious beliefs, like PIZZA, they have the potential legal right to do so.

4) The problem here, with these reworded RFRA’s, is that specific groups are not protected from discrimination in their state (unless it has been adopted by a county or city within that state). This applies specifically to sexual orientation or gender identity. Many states have adopted these groups as protected against discrimination in their numeration laws (like race, gender or age). But as you can see below, many more states have avoided adding LGBTQ to their numeration list.

5) So, if a “person” claims for religious reasons that they cannot serve someone who is LGBTQ, then there is no recourse to sue and be backed up by the laws of that state.

Can you see the problem here? Simply using “religious belief” gives a “person” (for-profit business) the legal right to discriminate.

The smarmy thing, in my opinion, is the groups and law makers who are pushing this are people who do not approve of a gay “lifestyle” (read: it is a choice). In essence, they are using religion to be able to legally discriminate against anyone they claim they don’t agree with. They are saying that their religious freedoms are being stomped on because gay people are getting married, being served in restaurants, seeking housing, looking for employment, and hoping for benefits from their employer (either for themselves or for their partner).

Now, tell me how you would feel if you were being discriminated against in these same ways because you have been divorced, had sex before you were married or even committed adultery yourself? Or, take anything else that the Bible says is sinful, and they have a reason to discriminate, especially if they are really being consistent about their religious beliefs.

But no. They are taking one thing, homosexuality, and making it the litmus test for being able to get away with discrimination. For those people who are saying that the law (like in Indiana) is not meant for that, you can find a plethora of quotes and backgrounds from the very people who proposed, supported and passed this law…and their views about LGBTQ people. The timing alone for Indiana, who was denied the right to have a same-sex marriage ban, is enough to show you what their true intent was. Other states are following.

If you know anything about Scripture, there is very little said regarding homosexuality. Jesus never said anything about it himself, and that certainly should have credence with Christians. Jesus did say all kinds of things about judging others, loving others, following him, giving unto Ceasar, and making disciples of others.

None of what He said falls in line with denying tax paying citizens anything that everyone else can have, simply because they are “sinners.” In fact, He talks about turning the other cheek, helping non-believers, and serving others as He himself served…by dying for them.

So, now we get back to why I am so adament about fighting these crazy things going on in our government and society.

1) Our country was not founded on religion, and made dang sure in the Constitution that no law should be made forcing another person’s beliefs to stamp out the Constitutional rights of another human being. Unfortunately, if those who see homosexuality as a sin and think they can deny basic rights as guaranteed under our secular laws, then they don’t understand our history very well. Just read some quotes by our founding fathers. They weren’t too keen on religion at all. But, they wanted all to have religious freedom. Which we have.

2) How is allowing same-sex marriage or serving someone pizza effecting a heterosexual’s life or marriage? It isn’t, and if it is, then maybe they need to look themselves in the mirror and get some self-confidence. Even if you believe with every ounce of your being that marriage is between one man and one woman, how in the heck is letting a same-sex couple get married affecting your marriage? Why is there such an adament need to fight for this to become defined in our secular laws? It just doesn’t make sense to me. No one is making any clergy or church perform and bless these unions. You aren’t being forced to do anything against your religion. But pizza? A for-profit business making a wedding cake? That is different. Discrimination is wrong in our secular world. And any business who justifies it with religion is simply wanting to discriminate. They aren’t losing their faith, beliefs or religion over it. Good grief.

3) If a major goal of any Believer is to make disciples of Christ, they aren’t doing a very good job of it. In fact, no gay person is going to want to see what the unconditional love of Jesus really is, if Christians can’t grasp how to do so toward others, but instead discriminate against them. Believers are ambassadors. They are representatives. Hmm. Big fail.

 

4) Religious justification of all kinds of horrible things have happened in history: the caste system in India; the Crusades; burning of innocent “witches”; slavery and segregation; women not being allowed to vote; eugenics laws in Indiana and other states, which Hitler actually used as inspiration for his justified killing of millions of Jews, gypsies, mentally ill, homosexuals, and other groups of “unwanted” people. Judgement reigns, and hatred is the driving force, even if Christians want to claim that they “love the sinner, but hate the sin”…which, by the way, is nowhere in the Bible.

Listen, regardless if someone believes that being gay is a choice or is in their DNA, all of these laws that are being discussed are simply a way to legally discriminate against people: people who sin, love, pay taxes, have children, and live in a country that guarantees them protection against being targeted, whether or not they believe in Jesus and the Bible. Thankfully we have that freedom.

These laws are as un-American as the very country that our Founding Fathers seceded from through the Revolutionary War. Can’t we learn from history? No one is being asked to give up their religion. Christians aren’t being persecuted. Churches still are exempt from taxation, yet they want to dictate legalized discrimination in our country?

This is appalling.

I, for one, don’t know what it truly feels like to be discriminated against, though I am a woman and have experienced minor amounts of inequality and sexism. But if I were to walk into a pizza restaurant and ask them to cater my wedding (who does that, anyway?) and they wouldn’t do it because I am an avid Ally, plus they know my ex is gay and married, they could try to deny me their services based on their religious beliefs…if things keep going the way that they are. What if my own kids went somewhere with my ex and his husband and they weren’t served because their dads are gay? Would I have recourse? Not under the current situation. This is not right…and needs to be fought.

Experiencing my husband coming out of the closet, when I believed that being gay was a sin and a choice, truly caused my world to crumble. With this came a crisis of faith, forcing me to view all of my beliefs in light of my personal experience. I am so glad that happened. Otherwise, I might find myself on the wrong side of history, supporting the idea that my religion calls for me to discriminate against another person in this country. My religion would have also called me to fight for erroneous beliefs and to support laws in our secular society to make it legal for me to discriminate, because “speaking the truth in love” is what I am called to do, even if it hurts another person at their core.

If I did that, Jesus would be shaking his head, trying to gently show me that I have missed the mark. “Love one another, as I have loved you, and make disciples of all nations. Oh, and don’t forget about those stones that you really have no right to throw. Because, you know, that judgement thing is no bueno.”

Yet, that’s what these laws are doing: Judging for Jesus. Put the stones down, those of you who justify these things. Just love, eat your pizza, and be thankful that you live in a country where you can practice your religion without persecution or discrimination.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily “86 the Stones” Reese

 

I Love You

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What a blessed life I live.

I am a mom of three Tweens/teenagers. That alone is enough to give me license to not get things done. On top of that, I am also a teacher of teenagers. Add that in my life, and you can only imagine how exhausted I am at the end of each day.

Honestly, I barely have time to take a proper dump when nature calls.

But I wanted to let you know that I love you. I have received many emails from oodles of amazing people since my piece The Real Learning Channel was published in the Huffington Post Gay Voices. Some of them were simple but profound thank yous. Others are heart wrenching stories from people who are just now going through what I experienced nearly a decade ago.

I wanted to let all of you know that I have read your messages, and to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. My intention was to respond back right away; however, my life has gotten in the way a bit. Please know that you are not bothering me, though. Keep writing.

I plan, over the next several days, to start responding to all of you.

Remember that I love you. Deeply. You are not alone.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

Well, That Escalated Quickly

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Whoa. Things went bananas today on my blog.  I just want to thank Noah Michelson and the Blogger Team at Huffington Post Gay Voices for giving me the chance to publish my piece on your page. Looks like I may start adding my story in bits to the blog section of Gay Voices for a different spin on the life that many people have found themselves in, usually unwillingly.  Here’s a link for the article, in case you missed it.

The Real Learning Channel: A Straight Spouse of a Gay Husband Speaks Out

If you’re stopping by my page and want to know a wee bit about my story and don’t want to sift through everything I blabbered about on here, you can go to the Risk! Live Storytelling podcast by Kevin Allison.  Click the link below and forward to the 19:30 minute mark.

Risk! Live Storytelling, Emily’s Story

Thank you for heading over to my blog. My goal is always to encourage, and if you have a story to share that could help our readers, hit me up by contacting through email (contactsamesides@gmail.com).

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily F. Reese

Worst Little Story

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I live in Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World. At least, that’s what we call ourselves. We probably should have been called The Windy City, but that one was already taken. I have seen trees, on way too regular of a basis, being uprooted when the winds roll off the Sierras. It’s a creepy thing to see the ground boiling up where the roots of a sequoia are located, getting ready to fall on my minivan.

Mama needs a new car. Please fall on it.

This past week, I was invited by my friend Rory Dowd, to be on his local podcast, called the Worst Little Podcast. It is a very “adult” oriented show…as adult as sex jokes and swearing can be. It was an absolute blast, and I was allowed to talk a bit about my story.

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If you can handle the adult content of it without getting offended, take a listen at the link below. If you have time to listen to the whole thing, you should. Great music, featuring PJ Ruprecht, is among the chaotic antics of the show, and is fun to listen to. If you just want to hear the section where my story is mentioned (including my awesome charter school, Rainshadow), you can start listening at 51:50.

Get your story out there, too! Contact me if you want to share your journey on this website. You can receive encouragement from people who stop by here as well as help others who struggle with their spouse revealing that they are gay.

Sometimes, the only way to get through this thing called Mixed Orientation Marriage, is to rely on the support of others who have been through it before you. In fact, it’s the best way, I have found.

Enjoy the Show, and Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

The Worst Little Podcast with Emily and PJ

And after listening, if you’d like to give to my amazing charter school’s annual fundraising campaign, click the following link.  Every little bit helps our students to be in a school that helps meet their individual needs.  Rainshadow Charter High School Annual Giving Campaign