I opened the envelope from my husband’s college friend expecting the annual Christmas newsletter.
Instead, I found the final piece of evidence that told me I had married a gay man so closeted he couldn’t even see himself clearly.
It was a note–”Perhaps this will help with your situation”–jotted onto a copy of an article from the Chicago Tribune. The headline: “When Your Husband’s Other Woman is a Man.”
I sat down on the stairs, wrapped my arms around the newel post and pressed my forehead against it. The room dipped and whirled around me. I reflected that really, really bad news did feel exactly like being punched in the stomach.
And I knew that the months of therapy, the despair over having gone more than a year without my husband’s once wanting to make love, the wondering whether this marriage could be saved, were finally over. I had my answer.
When I later announced that I had moved out all my things, hired an attorney and was filing for divorce, he finally admitted the truth. And cried.
“I don’t want to be gay,” he said.
And he asked me not to tell any of our friends the real reason for our divorce. I agreed to leave the coming-out decision to him.
About 18 months later, he moved to Chicago. He started a new job and a new life as an openly gay man. He eventually found love with an African American social worker/rap DJ.
I dated a string of men who were in one way or another unsuitable for marriage. I did it deliberately. I pictured marriage as being trapped in a box that became smaller and smaller, until I could no longer breathe, and then I disappeared completely.
I could write at length about how I feel Pagan values of equality, liberty and justice support gay marriage. And they do.
I could say that I think my personal path’s emphasis on love as the ground of all being demands that we allow people to love whom they will, and consenting adults to form permanent, legally sanctioned, love relationships of their choosing. And, I could add that my path’s understanding of sexual energy as being a basic component of our life force also calls for being able to express that energy with other consenting adults regardless of gender expression. I believe those things strongly.
And, I could write that I feel our Constitution and the opening words of the Declaration of independence support gay marriage as well. That we are all created equal, endowed with inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, there’s that First Amendment principle calling for separation of church and state. Meaning, that if your religion tells you not to do something, fine, don’t do it. But you’re not allowed to make laws about it.
All that is true. All that, I believe. However, for me, the political in this case is intensely personal. I cannot believe that any Deity worthy of reverence would want any human being to endure the kind of misery I and my ex-husband endured.
And for him, that misery did not begin as he began to admit to himself the truth of his sexual orientation, and grapple with how to explain this evolution of understanding to me. It started with his having grown up, as I did, in towns in which “gay” was an ultimate insult.
There was no one that to whom he could have turned as a gay adolescent. His parents’ marriage was deteriorating; they were so busy with their own problems, he later told me, that he didn’t feel he could come to them with his confusion. There was no PFLAG, no It Gets Better Project. None of the support groups that now exist. So he, and so many others of his generation, buried their sexual natures and attractions deep. They married the socially and religiously-approved opposite sex partners. Many had children. I can extrapolate from my own experience that many were miserable.
I also know from the parade of people in my own life who later came out as gay and are now happily re-married, or as married as they can legally be, that it did get better for them. Eventually. And from my own experience of trauma and healing, I know that it gets better for the straight spouse, too. From being around Pagans and other religious people who believe GLBT love is as sacred as heterosexual love, I know that “religious” and “intolerant” are not synonyms.
I hope that the Supreme Court ruling striking down part of DOMA is only the beginning. I hope the parade of political figures supporting gay marriage grows longer and longer. I hope that soon, all my LBGT friends will be able to marry whomever they want, wherever they want. I hope the sight of those brave, openly married GLBT couples will continue to show everyone just how normal and boring the gay agenda is.
And that it really will Get Better for gay people of all ages. That the discrimination they are subjected to disappears.
And that the days in which gay and straight partners are unhappily married to one another end. Forever.