Category Archives: “Same-Sex Attraction”

It’s Sunday! Wake Up, Church!

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I still love Sundays, even though I cannot step foot in a church, nine years later.

To say that my husband coming out of the closet shook my faith, is an understatement. Looking back, my faith needed to be shaken; but at the time, for a year and a half, I believed with all of my heart that if I prayed enough, read scripture enough, and loved Devon to death, that he would choose my kids and me over his “sin.”

I knew the scriptures inside and out. Devon had been an elder and lay youth pastor, for Pete’s sake. We raised our family “God’s Way” and understood that nothing was impossible with God. So, of course, I relied on that fact when I faithfully proclaimed that this was just a test, and his “same-sex attractions” were temporary and a choice.

But once I had the epiphany that I could not change him, that I could not control him, that I could not manipulate him into staying and I needed to let go for my own physical, mental and spiritual health, I did not realize just how ingrained this idea of homosexuality being a sin is, within the Fundie church body. It actually can cause more hurt and derision for the people who need the church the most.

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My pastors? Their reaction went something like this:

Regardless of what he is doing, you need to do these three things: 1) Get involved with a ‘Life Group’, 2) Strengthen your faith, and 3) Remain faithful so that you won’t be tempted yourself. We have found that the faithful spouse tends to cheat also to get their needs met; you are still married. Don’t forget that.

Then they handed me a cassette series on the “sin” of homosexuality…that I already had in my plethora of resources.

Hmm. Like I didn’t already know or do those things. Like I needed to do anything at all, as though it was in my control. Like I hadn’t already remained faithful to a “T.” Like those tapes were going to bring me comfort and save my marriage.

They kept looking at the clock during our meeting, as though I was bothering them. They prayed for me, handed me the tapes, and pushed me out the door.

I never heard from them again, until Pastor B emailed me and asked for the tapes back. Good thing I didn’t burn them. I would have owed money for the garbage they fed to me that day.

I had a small group of trusted people that I eventually let in, after living in secret about this for many months, as an effort to help me and convince my husband to repent. They were close to us in our other church, served with him on the Elder Board, and loved my family and me. To make a long story short, their hearts were in the right place. They wanted me to save my marriage as much as I did. The men reached out to my husband and tried to meet with him, with very little fruit. (Looking back, I am glad you didn’t, Devon. Even though I am relaying pain here, I am so happy with our story, and I really do love you.) I spilled everything to them, including my own sin and my entire heart.

Then, with the exception of one couple, they chose to use my heart for saving my marriage, against me.

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Once I came to the epiphany that nothing I do can change what has happened, I felt free to let go of our marriage. It was the first time in a year and a half that I slept a full 14 hours. Peace reigned in my heart, and I knew I could move on.

But two out of the three couples did not agree. Essentially, their reaction can be summed up like this:

We believe him when he says he hasn’t cheated on you. It doesn’t seem like you want to save your marriage. You have no grounds for a Biblical divorce; perhaps you just want to go out and ‘sin’ yourself.

I became the scapegoat. Instead of facing the fact they they were wrong, and maybe even their paradigm about homosexuality and what God can and cannot do was wrong, they blamed me.

Way to go, Unconditional Love! Way to be a witness, Believers, of how to win hearts and minds!

I then had a flood of hypocrisy that I had to face. I would have likely said, done and thought just like them, until the coin was flipped. I became the scorn of judgement, and since then I have learned that Unconditional Love, by definition, does not place burdens on another person. “Speaking the truth in love” coupled with judgement does not work. It drives a wedge.

What I find most interesting, is that even though people (especially the four who made me the scapegoat) know that my ex is now married to the man they claimed he wasn’t cheating on me with, I have yet to receive an apology from them. I found that sometimes I need to forgive over and over again the hurtful words that were spoken to me, and it is especially tough to forgive people who haven’t admitted the hurt they doled out, nor asked for forgiveness.

They were wrong and judgmental and downright mean at the flip of a switch, even if they felt they were “speaking the truth in love,” to a woman of God who was experiencing the worst pain of her life. I have often toyed with the idea that I should confront them, but to what avail? Telling someone they need to ask you to forgive them does not create sincerity and humility. The only person I can control is myself, and that is hard enough. I have to forgive myself, sometimes daily, for bitterness and for words spoken judgingly toward homosexuals, which exacerbated my husband not being honest and hiding his struggles from me.

Obviously, today, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to forgive Devon, change my heart, see the truth about Unconditional Love, and realize the error of thinking regarding “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I love myself, my life, my core, Devon, Felipe, and my new and unique Rainbow Family. All of the stuff in my past is just a tool to use to offer encouragement and empathy to others.

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The purpose behind sharing this isn’t to bitch and complain and remain bitter. Actually, the purpose is twofold: 1) to share my experience so others know they aren’t alone, and 2) to help people in the Church to realize that there is an extreme need to offer resources for the straight spouse in a situation where their LGBT marriage partner comes out of the closet.

I certainly do not want to overshadow the LGBT person’s need for help, too. But through my experience, and knowing hundreds of straight spouses in this situation, there is a dire need for clergy and believers to offer true empathy and support for the straight spouse.

I am so thankful to the author of the article link below. In it, she shares her experience with the Church and makes an excellent case for a better understanding from them toward spouses like us. Don’t tell us that if we do this or that, or pray more, or read scripture more, or have caution in not having an affair ourselves, we will see the results we long for. If there is nothing we can “do” to be saved except to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, how could we possibly do anything to make our marriage stay intact?  Just give us love. Give us the support we need by pointing us in the direction of others who have been in a MOM before us. Don’t place burdens on us.

That’s not Jesus’ way.

Here is the article referred to above. It was spot on. Click here: Dear Church Leaders. If you are reading this as a pastor or Christian, the Straight Spouse Network, as well as Canyonwalker Connections, are just two of a handful of resources I can recommend.

Blessings on This Blessed Sunday Morning,
Emily F. Reese

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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

A New Hope

It’s Sunday.  I have taken an unusual break from sitting on my front porch this weekend (a.k.a. The Coolest Porch in Reno… where a huge bear decided to take an evening jog by my house last week.  Let me tell you, it was freaky.). I am in South San Francisco for a much needed sabbatical from my busy life of raising my Three Little Birds and teaching other people’s kids.

That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me!  And yet... I stayed on the porch.  I'm analyzing why, still.
That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me! And yet… I stayed on the porch. I’m analyzing why, still. Any ideas?

As I write this, I am enjoying today’s unique sunrise from The Coolest Porch in San Fran.  I can see the bay and city from here and am wowed at the complexity of creativity and ingenuity of the humans that God created.  I mean, look at this place!  Not only did God allow for such a beautiful coastal area, but the Creator endowed us with the ability to come up with major technology and expansion prowess (even if some people may consider that a bad thing).  To piggy back on that thought, I am sitting here being able to write all of my thoughts in my head down into a computer connected to the world for anyone to read who feels inclined to simply “click” on my link.  Wow!  We are pretty amazing and intelligent people to have such a thing.

I love Sundays when I take the time to truly worship the Maker.  Life is so good!

If you want to get a copy of this book, you can do it at this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414874423&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+baldock
Yes, I know this woman. Do you want MY autograph? For a small fee, of course (-:

I finally have the time to read the book that my good friend Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections recently published.  It’s good.  I mean, REALLY good.  What was supposed to be somewhat of a memoir when she first started tackling the topic of LGBT inclusion in the Christian church, turned into a lengthy research project that spans time.  It is insightful and in my humble opinion, an excellent piece of literature to be able to give to Christians and non-Christians alike.  It gives history, testimony and examples of God’s work in all people, including the LGBT community.

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And yes, my story is also included on page 326 in the chapter section about Mixed Orientation Marriages.  Some of the people I have had the pleasure of being introduced to (Chet, Lynn, Jerry, Mark and Cheri) are also included in that chapter, and their stories lend insight to affirming and non-affirming Christians as to changes the Church needs to make in handling families in their congregations when a spouse comes out of the closet.

There needs to be change. End of story.

I have never met an individual who has gone through the tumultuous time of a spouse coming out of the closet whose church and leaders handled the situation lovingly and with compassion.  And if yours did, PLEASE contact me.  I need to know your story.  We need some added hope here on this site regarding how churches handle our unusual situation!

Whoa.  That's a lot of letters!
Whoa. That’s a lot of letters!

It’s all about relationship building, when it comes to the Church and Christians finding a way to understand the LGBT community. If you’re new to this site and have recently found out that your spouse is gay or bi or whatever other letter represents your spouse, please know that you can find positivity here.  I understand if you are in the position I was in, nearly 10 years ago, finding out your spouse, Christian or not, is gay.

It simply sucks, to put it mildly.  There’s no other way around it.

And now what you have to go through, from this moment on, really sucks.  The only hope you can cling to is that if you keep moving forward in your unique situation, you are not alone.  You can also begin to hope that you will make it through this, however long it takes, by relying on stories and encouragement from others.  But you have to keep moving forward, trusting that you will turn out to be a more complete and whole person than you are now.  Because if you don’t cling to that, then you might be a miserable person in the end.  And no one wants that.

Be hurt.  Be angry.  Be bitter, even.  But move forward with all of the strength you can muster, even if you take 17 steps back.  You have to want to get through it to the other side, whatever that may look like for you, in order to get there.  And along the way, know that you are loved by many, especially the ones who have been through it before.

I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Or, you could just get a plaque.  That would work, too...
I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer. Or, you could just get a plaque. That would work, too…

And if you are not a person of faith, you will get zero judgement from me.  If you are a person of faith, memorize the Serenity Prayer, stat.  Repeat it like a mantra, because the only thing you want is peace (serenity), and the only way you’re going to get there is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference between the two.

I wrote a little piece about this prayer awhile back, and if you would like to read it, click here.

Love me some Star Wars... and some hope.
Love me some Star Wars… and some hope.

On a related note, there were some interesting things that happened this last week during one of the nation’s largest denominational get together conferences, the SBC.

Thank you, Kathy Baldock, Matthew Vines, Robin Lunn and Jeff Hood (and all you other warriors) who attended the SBC Conference this last week.  Your mission was to build relationships, and it looks like that’s what happened.  For those of us who have been hurt by the Church in some way because of the MOM that we didn’t ask for, your efforts to find a bridge between our stories and the Church is appreciated.

Here is an article posted in the Baptist News Global that mentions all of us straight and gay spouses who needed some bridge building between our faith and our situations, but didn’t receive it.  There is hope for us straight spouses of faith, and I am thankful these people are taking our issues to the front lines.

Emotions Mixed for Pro-Gay ERLC Conference Attendees

Life is wonderful, God is good, and there is no fear in love.  Find hope, find it somewhere, and cling to it.

Happy Sunday from The Coolest Porch in San Fran,

Emily

P.S.  If you want to purchase a copy of Kathy’s book, you can do so here.  Much love to you, my dear friend.  Our meeting was divinely inspired.

Sophia’s Story

Sharing is an important process of our journey.  And when told in confidence, trust is of utmost importance.  Thank you, Sophia, for sharing your story.
Sharing is an important process of our journey. And when told in confidence, trust is of utmost importance. Thank you, Sophia, for sharing your story.

I received an email from a wonderful woman who finally felt comfortable to share her story on my blog.

Her story? She is one of the rare women who has stayed with her family and decided not to dissolve the marriage. Her reasons are unique, and on this blog site, I try to approach the issues of Mixed Orientation Marriages and the people affected by it with an open mind: I won’t encourage people to get divorced, as though that is the only option. While it is very rare for two people in an MOM to choose to stay together, I admire those who try.

With her story, which is very lengthy, I felt that our conversational tone through email was a great way to present things. I have honored her by changing her name and a few of the things that may reveal her identity. She and her family have told very few people about their scenario for good reasons, which you will understand as you read her account.

Sophia, you are not alone and I feel honored that you trusted me with your story. Also, I love you… and your entire family.

If any of you have any follow up questions for her, feel free to comment under her story and I will relay her answers.

Also, if you would like to share your story, please do so by clicking on the tab Stories and reading the parameters that I have set forth there.  Sharing helps you and helps others.  It really does.

Thanks for loving and supporting those of us spouses who often get overshadowed in the very traumatic journey of a spouse coming out of the closet. Please click the link below, Sophia’s Story, that will take you through her journey under the Stories tab, and may you find some interesting tidbits that you can either relate to or will give you empathy and understanding of the journey and road that straight spouses and their families are often forced to travel down.

Keep your feet as best as you can outside of your door.

You can get to her story by clicking here:  Sophia’s Story

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The Most Common Question

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Oooo! Oooo! Pick me! I have a question!

For those of you who do not know this about me, the number that I’m about to throw out here is pretty impressive and staggering to most:

There are 42 first cousins on my dad’s side of the family.

Yep, that’s a lot of cousins.  My Grandma and Grandpa Strabala had 13 kids.  It was pretty easy to multiply a large number of my generation to make 42 cousins.

It was really fun growing up in my family.  Sunday dinners of pot roast and mashed potatoes with my grandma’s famous chocolate chips cookies, were like a huge party.  All the time.

One of my oldest cousins, Dan Harbit, is a thoughtful person.  He often seeks to understand me, social issues and the hearts of people by asking tough questions in respectful ways.  When I was in junior high and high school, he and his wife, Jane (and their kids) attended the same church that my family and I did.  I love them.

My Cousin Dan Harbit with his grandson at Lake McBride in Iowa
My Cousin Dan Harbit with his grandson at Lake McBride in Iowa

So, he offered the very first comment and question to this blog since I released it just yesterday.  And I’d like to honor him by answering his question in a post, not just as a comment.  Here is what he asked:

Hi Emily, I have been very busy and just had a little time to Facebook and spotted this. Very interesting. And leads me to ask a question that I’m sure many wonder about and maybe you could blog some insight to. Why does it take 10 years and 3 kids before you figure out you’re gay and decide to come out? I know several people that have experienced this situation but never understood why they couldn’t figure it out before they caused so many so much hardship. I’m not trying to be judgmental just looking for some insight and understanding. Thanks, Love Ya

Here is my response:

Dan-

First of all, Hey Cousin!  I always appreciate your well-thought out comments on Facebook and your delivery of them.  Give my love to your family from me.

Secondly, I have been asked this question in some form or another many times, but it has often been brought up in a spirit of anger from people.  Yours was not.  Thank you for asking it in a non-judgmental way.  I have had to delete comments before from others on our other blog because they are mean-spirited and hate-filled toward Devon.  The curious thing is that these questions, at times, come from other gay people, and I can only assume that they have never experienced the lengths that gay people can go through to NOT be gay and try to “change” into a heterosexual person.

So, to answer your question from MY perspective, which honestly I feel that Devon could answer even better than me since it was ultimately part of his specific journey, it boils down to the fact that he didn’t want to be gay.

This is very common for many people in the LGBT community.  I mean, think about the social stigma that was even worse 30-40 years ago.  We grew up during a different climate than today.

Here are a few things that Devon has revealed to me about his experience with this.  I will list them.

1.  Devon knew he was gay from an early age (something like 5 or 6), but didn’t understand what it really was.  Most kids don’t grasp the idea of sexuality that young.  But he knew he was different.

2.  He was bullied and teased growing up and called gay, fag and other things.  You can imagine how this could have affected him.  Essentially gay = bad.

3.  And then there’s the Church factor.  Which is a VERY big factor for many people in the LGBT community.  You know as well as I do that the preaching and teaching from the pulpit, discussions and prayer circles often centers around people changing, people needing to stop their “lifestyle” or that “same-sex” attraction is a sin that cannot be actively pursued if someone is to be an official born-again believer… all because of about 7 main verses from the Bible that discuss homosexuality in some form or another.  And honestly, it’s only been in the last century that the term “homosexuality” has even been in existence and has become a true dividing line in Christianity.  In fact, today, it has become entirely TOO focused on by “fundamentalist” Christian people and churches, in my opinion.  There is no written “gay agenda”, there isn’t a war that the LGBT community is inflicting upon our society.  That is all fear-based, straw-man tactics that the other side of the issue uses to rally the fellowship of believers into a frenzy (this is obviously my opinion, but I can honestly say I used to be JUST LIKE THAT myself, so I feel that I have a unique perspective that others don’t).  If you go to visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/ to my friend Kathy Baldock’s site, she gives detailed research about the topic of scripture and homosexuality.  Her new book just came out, and it is very powerful.  She is a straight, intelligent and strong Evangelical Christian herself.

4.  Devon truly loved me.  Yes, he was even attracted to me.  We had a great marriage.  It helped him to suppress who he was deep down, and while many people see that as me being used (and trust me, I had to work through that in the early stages of him coming out), it was simply more of him doing whatever he could think of to change.

5.  I don’t regret him coming out one bit.  Especially years later, knowing that we wouldn’t have had our Three Little Birds in this world if we hadn’t have married.  It was all worth it.MKTLittleAtBeach

And ultimately, it has caused me to understand how to truly love someone unconditionally, which has been my desire since I began my relationship with God so many years ago.

So it wasn’t necessarily a “one day he just decided he was gay,” though it seemed like that to me in the moment.  Did it hurt and change all of us, including extended family?  Yes.  Many relationships with others were damaged and cannot be repaired, which is not coming from us, but from people who won’t repair it because of their own beef with homosexuality.  The process of “coming out” is very unique to each individual.  It is scary.  It is especially scary when a gay person has built up walls of decisions and ideals to break through those and come clean.

I believe that our world today is much different than when you and I were young.  Our society is shifting regarding ideas of being gay.  It is much easier for people to come out early on compared to 20 years ago, which makes it harder for people to understand our generation and older generations of not wanting to be gay and the lengths many LGBT people go through to try and “change” who they are at their core.comingoutofaclosetI appreciate that you have asked the question regarding people coming out to their spouses at such a late stage in the game, where spouses, kids and friends/family get hurt along the way.  I hope that my answers to you are clarifying to some degree.

You are a good man, Dan, and I am thankful to call you family.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily