Tag Archives: LGBT

TEDx Crying

  
Life is truly amazing. It really is, especially now that I am at a place in my life, 10 years removed from my husband coming out of the closet.

In the picture above, I am starting to shed tears of gratefulness on stage at the TEDxUniversityOfNevada event on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. It was at the end of my talk/story, with advice for both the straight spouse and the LGBTQ spouse. I shared how thankful I am for Devon coming out to me, as it set me on a path to knowing and loving myself, apart from anyone or anything else, including loving my imperfect life. I pointed to him in the crowd, and teared up.

After the audience stood and clapped, I walked off the stage and bawled like a baby. It was surreal. 

I am so thankful for coming to this place in my journey. I am here to witness that you, too, can get to this place. No matter what, you are loved, loveable, and not alone. 

As soon as the video is edited and posted on TEDx’s YouTube channel in about three weeks, I will post and share it here. 

Thanks for the love people. My life is blessed and I am thankful to be able to be transparent.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Fay Reese 

 

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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

“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

 

Keep It Secret. Keep It Safe.

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One of the most common things in this “situation” of our spouses coming out to us straight husbands and wives, is the theme of secrecy.

Not only has our spouse likely been keeping a secret and lying about their orientation during our heterosexual marriages, but then this burden, that we have been forced to carry, becomes shrouded in secrets from ourselves. The very thing we need is help, support and the ability to share, yet there are so many reasons we keep ourselves from being transparent.

This is perhaps one of the most painful experiences that us straight spouses can go through: the secrets we feel like we must keep.

I have experienced this for myself, even if you wouldn’t know it now. Now I live very transparently, sharing things I only dreamed about sharing during those first years of the Big Reveal, but couldn’t. I am one of the few lucky ones. So many live with those secrets for the rest of their lives, and it seems like it slowly eats them up inside, unless they can find a way to live with those secrets and still move forward.

For the person who has never been through something like a spouse coming out, it is difficult to understand. Even 10 years later, I sometimes forget how difficult and detrimental this secrecy was for me. Here are some of the hundreds of reasons the straight spouse doesn’t spill the beans:

1) The straight spouse (SS) desires for their gay spouse (GS) to change their minds. They still love that person and want their marriage to stay intact for them, for their kids, and for their social lives. They stay quiet, waiting, not wanting to have to backpedal on their story and have their GS have to apologize to the world, in a “oops! Just kidding and so sorry” kind of way.

2) The married couple will have to face criticisms, advice and emotions from family members and friends. The SS may even feel like a failure, and it feels like it is just easier to keep it secret than face the pain it brings to them and others.

3) The married couple may have to face the Church. Speaking from experience, this can turn out very ugly, for both the SS and the GS, and it seems like the worst option possible, during a time where the people they fellowship with should be loving them without judgment and surrounding them with empathy. Knowing how the SS may have judged others, if someone else had shared this secret in the past, keeps a SS from speaking out and receiving help that they know will not be constructive. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt. I was the most judgmental person on this earth.

4) If the GS comes clean on their own (or not) and admits freely that they are gay, many GS’s insist that you cannot “out” them because it is not your job to do so. This happened to me, even though I was eventually willing to move forward and be accepting. I was accused on numerous occasions of trying to “out” my husband and ruin him, even though what I needed was support, and that was my only motive. I. Just. Couldn’t. Win.

5) In more cases than I like to admit, the GS is so selfish during that time, that they will do anything, at any cost, to intimidate their SS into staying quiet. They don’t want anyone to know because they sincerely believe that they will lose their jobs, their kids, their reputation centered around being “straight”, their financial life, and their comfortable ideas about what life should be like while they have lived a charade their entire lives. Many of these GS have been “caught” unwillingly and are not ready to face the truth about themselves, let alone to have others know the shame they have had in their secrecy. I have met SO MANY people who have been manipulated into keeping their GS’s secret because the GS uses the love the SS has against them, even threatening them emotionally, physically or financially.

The hardest part about number five is that there are more SS’s who fall under this category (unlike my experience), but they feel they cannot possibly come forward to prove this is happening. I want to speak for you without revealing who you are. You know you aren’t alone if you have found others like you, but how do you know you aren’t alone otherwise? No one talks about it! It is quite a conundrum. (I am not judging you for not coming forward. I am just trying to show that this secrecy thing is real and so difficult for those who feel alone. I want you to know that you are not alone, if this secrecy thing is new to you. Trust me.)

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So, what do you do now? You so desperately want to share your story with others so you can get the support you need, but you cannot, because it is just too much for you in your situation.

I wish I had concrete answers for you. I really do. This MOM thing is very complicated.

The thing I would like to offer here is encouragement and strength. You need to deal with your marriage relationship, while moving forward at your own pace, to start taking care of YOU. Whatever it is that you need to do, I support you. Just, try to work toward facing all the fears you may be experiencing, one fear at a time. You likely want to see light at the end of the tunnel, but you don’t know what life will look like and you are afraid of that. You think the worst, most of the time, even when you desire to think the best.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: whether or not you are a praying person, the Serenity Prayer offers the most simple focus anyone could ever ask for. Write it down and paste it on your mirror, your dashboard, and your forehead. Memorize it. Say it like a mantra.

The wisdom you are looking for in your unique situation can be boiled down to control. Accepting the things you cannot change. Courage to change the things you can. Wisdom to know the difference.

It is impossible to control others, even if we try. It is hard enough controlling ourselves, so why do we continue trying to control others, our marriages and any other situation we may face? Ugh. It is a life-long lesson. Even I still have to remind myself of this every day.

Letting go of control is so tough. So seemingly insurmountable.

But it can be done. Just like there are so many out there like you in your tough situation with your “out” GS or your “living in secret” GS, there are thousands of others who have come out on the other side of this painful closet situation. They are living fulfilling lives that look different than they ever imagined, and they are looking back on their pain and are proud of how they handled themselves, even if they have made mistakes.

I made TONS of mistakes. Ask my friends. Ask my kids. Ask my family.

Ask my gay ex husband.

My fulfilling life includes constantly learning how to let go of things I cannot control. It also includes forgiving myself and loving myself. That is what I can control. Myself, the thousands of others who are going through this, and those who have moved on to something more beautiful, love you and support you. You really can do it. Borrow our faith that we have in you. Believe that you will make it.

You will.

In the meantime, get a tattoo of the Serenity Prayer and repeat it like Rainman would. What have you got to lose? Control? You never had that in the first place. You have everything to gain, which boils down to having you. You are loved. You are loveable. You are stronger than you think you are. You have wisdom, peace, and courage. Believe in yourself, because in the end, you are all you really have in this life, and you are worth it.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

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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.

To Stay or Not to Stay: That Is the Question

The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, the Jackson Browne's band guitar player.
The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, Jackson Browne’s band guitar player.

The word “stay” has been floating around the interwebs a bunch this past week.  With all of the SCOTUS posts and people’s opinions on The Book of Faces, it’s getting a bit confusing.

Basically, by not reviewing any of the appeals, SCOTUS is saying that same-sex marriage is constitutional and will be allowed in the states where many stays and voters wanted it to be banned… or defined marriage as between one man and one woman.  In my opinion, there will be hold-out states, and eventually SCOTUS will have to face the issue and make a federal ruling.

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It’s a little more complicated than that, but for now, this Ally will take what she can get.  People should get married if they want… regardless of who it is.  Love is love, marriage is a state mandated right, churches will not be “forced” to perform marriage ceremonies if they choose not to (which they already have that choice) and no Church or religious belief should dictate that to any other citizen of the United States of America.  I wrote a post on my other blog titled “Kiss My Big White Butt” that basically spelled out how I feel about it.  You can read it here if you’d like.

But what about the word “stay” as used in Mixed Orientation Marriages?  Should you “stay” once you find out and not divorce, trying to work things out in a heterosexual marriage while dealing with the complexity of same-sex orientation in your spouse?

I don’t actually have the answers for you.  I have known people who have stayed and tried to work it out.  In the beginning of Devon’s Big Reveal, I was determined to make it work.  My view on the matter was a religious one, basing my actions and reactions on the “fact” that being gay is a choice.  Therefore, Devon could choose to not “be gay” and with the proper counseling and guidance and manipulation from me, he would choose to work through it and “stay” married to me.

Should I stay or should I go?
Should I stay or should I go?

My attitude continued with this until the day I finally accepted that he didn’t really want to stay in it.  His homosexuality was not a choice.  I was choosing to keep him around until I could convince him otherwise.  The day I realized and accepted that was the very day I could let go and tell him that I wanted a divorce.

I slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up with the most peaceful feeling I had ever experienced.

So… I didn’t stay.  I’m glad I didn’t.  NOW.  But it took me a year and a half to get there, and I tried everything I could think of, even some things I’m not so proud of.  I used scripture and the kids against him, for one, and for that, I am sorry.  In the end, however, that year and a half was a time of growth and grappling with big issues, with the biggest being my own belief system.  Before that Big Reveal, I thought I had all the answers.  After those words “I am gay” came out of his mouth, I truly learned what it meant to walk in someone else’s shoes and being judged for they very thing I used to judge others.  It was tough.  Once you live out something that was not expected to ever happen in your life, you gain empathy and wisdom beyond what you thought you could bear.

How long will it take you, as the straight spouse, to decide what you should do?  I don’t know.  Some lovely people I have met on this journey and through this website are still married after years of dealing with it.  Some of that has to do with age and the length of time they have been married.  Some of it has to do with their kids.  Many times, however, it has had to do with religious pressures based on fear… and that is no way to live.  True love has nothing to do with fear, and many times true love has to do with letting go.

Of course, this is all based on my own experience and others sharing their experiences with me.  I will not judge if you choose to stay.

However, I encourage you to truly evaluate your reasons behind staying.  Is it in any way based in fear?  Like, being afraid you won’t find anyone else?  Afraid that you can’t live without him or her?  Fear that people would find out and you’d lose friends and family over it?  Fear that others will be mad at you, or at your spouse?  All of these things can and will work out, because I have experienced it.  So have others.

Do what you think is right.  But try working toward not living in fear.  Fear is stifling and causes too much anxiety and unhappiness.

Be happy.  Be free.  If you can do that and “stay”, then by all means, do it.  You deserve the best in life, because life is too short to live it in fear.

Love, Emily Without Judgement

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Foot-In-Mouth-Disease and Letters In Red on Sunday

Pedestals:  No Bueno.
Pedestals: No Bueno.

Lest anyone forget, I have been where a vast majority of mainstream and Fundamentalist Christians have been with nearly every contentious issue and litmus test for being a “true” Christian.  This is especially true for the topic of Homosexuality.

This thinking/belief boils down to this:  You cannot be gay and a Christian.  If you are gay, you cannot “practice” homosexuality.  So, your options are:  1)  Live a life of celibacy (which is a “gift” according to the Scriptures and not something to force on someone), or 2) Get married to someone in a heterosexual marriage (because being gay is a choice and you can change to being a heterosexual)… and a third option during the process of #1 and #2 would be some sort of ex-gay therapy.  (Now, if you don’t believe the horror stories about those kinds of therapy, then you haven’t been willing to look into it.  Hit me up.  I can give you a plethora of people I know personally who experienced these kinds of interventions.  For every one person it supposedly “worked” for, there were 1,000 others that it didn’t work.  Which is why Exodus International finally had to disband after causing YEARS of harm to the LGBT community.)

One of the things that got me thinking today was this article in the NY Times, Pastor Led Son’s Gay Wedding, Revealing Fault Line in Church.  It’s well written and thought provoking about how the traditional and fundamentalist church treats its pastors and the LGBT community.  It made me think about how I would have reacted at one point in my life, before Devon’s Big Reveal.

Other people have the answers for gay people who are struggling with not wanting to be gay, wanting to have a relationship with God, and not wanting to hurt those they love.  It’s quite a pickle for the LGBT person to be in, to put it mildly.

I had the answers.  You bet I did.  And I was able to let them roll off my tongue as though I had the gift of prophecy.

This pic is awesome.  I love stuff that looks like kids made it.
This pic is awesome. I love stuff that looks like kids made it.

So, obviously, when Devon came out to me, I fell pretty hard from my pedestal.  I’m glad I did.  I wouldn’t change a thing… NOW.  But I sure tried to change things, especially that first year and a half.  I had people who loved me and supported my views that homosexuality was a sin and a choice.  I began to think a little differently as time moved forward, but not enough to question my beliefs regarding homosexuality.  It came down to me wanting Devon to remain my husband.  The very last thing I ever wanted was a divorce.  Heck, I was even willing to remain married to him if we never had sex again… as long as we were together and he did not seek a relationship or sex outside of our marriage.

I have shared a few stories on this blog and our earlier one (SameSides: Amicable Divorce)  that were words and attitudes I had which hurt Devon and all LGBT people, without me intending to be that way.  This was because of my worldview regarding homosexuality and Christianity.  I justified my judgement as “truth in love” when truly, at its essence, it was judgement.  To the well-meaning groups of ladies that I had the privilege of knowing through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) during that year and a half in my life, I am very thankful that we weren’t allowed to get too personal in sharing prayer requests.  I couldn’t ask for Devon to choose to be straight or come back home to us during prayer time because that was a boundary BSF implemented, which kept a lot of gossip from spreading (prayer circles are experts at crossing gossip lines).

But the times where homosexuality was brought up through our readings or discussions, hurtful things were said that cut me to the quick and made me bleed inside.  I learned very early on how much I had hurt Devon and others through my prideful “wisdom” before Devon coming out of the closet by hearing words from other ladies lips that were the exact things I used to say and think.

This is what I call Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  All of us are prone to it, regardless of our beliefs, love, or intentions.  I have accepted this about myself and feel qualified to see both sides of the divide regarding homosexuality and judgmental thinking.

I have no idea who "Gob" is, but this album cover is perfect!
I have no idea who “Gob” is, but this album cover is perfect!

Which is why I feel the need, especially lately, to simply go for it and call hypocrisy and judgement from Church dogma out in public ways.  Sometimes I do this with anger, other times I have done it with gentleness, and a few times I have lost friends over it.  I am learning how to balance love with truth, anger with empathy, and honesty with compassion.  I don’t hit the mark very often, but I’m trying.  I am thankful to those of you who don’t agree with me on things but stick around anyway.  It gives me hope that we can all help make this world a better place for everyone.

So on this Sunday, while many Christians are in church, I still don’t feel comfortable walking into one.  Someday I might, but today I will praise The Maker, The Universe, God… from the comfort of my computer at Devon and Felipe’s house while I recover from my last round of chemo.  The people and space that represent God’s unconditional love are right here, under The Reeses and Their Pieces Headquarters, where we can be together in peace, love, acceptance of differences and in fellowship with each other, building each other up and reflecting a little bit of The Letters in Red that are so precious to me these days.

Jesus did things right.  He kept his cool.  He didn’t suffer from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  Ever.  So I will look to him before I look to anyone or anything else as my example of how to live and love.  I am grateful for getting to a place of desiring to balance Faith with the realities of my life.  I’m doing that with the very thing that my dad always said to us growing up:  “Look to the Letters in Red.”

And if you aren’t religious, you won’t get judgement from me.  I am thankful I have the background I have because I get it when words are spoken in judgement, which are masked as “truth in love.”  Is there such a thing as “truth in love?”  Sure.  But if it doesn’t match with the Letters in Red, then you should be thinking twice before speaking them.

Happy Sunday to all people.  Unconditional love is the bomb, and without me knowing that I suffered from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease, I would have never gotten to this place of remembering the best advice from my pops:  Look to the Letters in Red.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Chemo-Done-And-Foot-Out-Of-Mouth-For-The-Moment Gal

Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often.  I think it is a virus possibly.  Wish there were an immunization for it.
Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often. I think it is a virus possibly. Wish there were an immunization for it.

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. 

Keeping Your Feet Outside of Your Door

TheRoadToBreeLOTR“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo, Lord of the Rings

I (Emily Reese) am not new to the blogging world.  Devon and I have been running a blog together for two years now called SameSides: Amicable Divorce and Getting Along With Your Ex.  It has been enjoyable and encouraging, for us and for our readers.

We have met so many wonderful people along the way and have been given many interesting opportunities to share our story not just through our blog, but with other media outlets.  The Universe has been quite gracious in allowing our experiences with our own divorce to help others with their lives as they navigate the waters of the difficult issues that surround the break up of a marriage and a family.

Our own story, which ultimately centered around Devon coming out of the closet after 10 years of marriage and three young kids, is intertwined with the generalities of going through a divorce.

It is time to start a new blog that deals with the hot topics today of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and how the Church and other religions deal with the hearts and minds of the LGBTQI community.

But most importantly, there is a dire need for there to be places where straight spouses can find encouragement and support as each unique situation is faced.  While it is a very big deal for a gay spouse to come out to his or her spouse and family, it is far too common for the straight spouse to be overshadowed by the news as the gay spouse deals with his or her journey.  The journey for the straight spouse can be lonely and isolation is often the experience that defines that journey.  Here, love, support, safety and encouragement can be found.

While many pieces that I will write about will include the added layer of difficulty that Christianity and the Church can bring into a MOM marriage, that is not exclusively what I will focus on.  It is the hearts, the minds, the feelings, the difficulties, the defeats and the victories that will be experienced in the straight spouse’s world… that is my heart.

It’s a tough road.  There’s no other way to state it.  But it is truly possible to come out on the other side of this closet a stronger, wiser, more loving and beautiful person.  Many have traveled this road before me, and many will travel it after me.  If you have found yourself on this road, you are not alone.  And you are loved.

Thank you for stopping by.  As I develop this blog, help me to grow it into a safe haven for all people to live, love, learn and grow with as much open-mindedness as we can muster.

Thanks for joining the conversation as we step out of our door and follow the road we have been given.  May we keep our feet grounded as best as we can so wherever we end up, it will be beautiful.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily6thRoundSelfie