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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Straight Spouse Network Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Counseling, Human Services, Mental Health

Mission: Who we are: Current and former Straight Spouses/Partners of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, Mixed Orientation Couples and our Families and Friends. What we do Serve straight spouses, mixed orientation couples, families and community by: * Reaching Out to increase visibility of straight spouses and accessibility to support * Healing and empowering straight spouses to cope constructively * Building Bridges between spouses, within families and with the larger community through support, education and advocacy The Straight Spouse Network (SSN) is an international organization that provides personal, confidential support and information to heterosexual spouses/partners, current or former, of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender mates and mixed-orientation couples for constructively resolving coming-out problems. SSN also offers research-based information about spouse, couple, and family issues and resources to other family members, professionals, community organizations, and the public. SSN is the only support network of its kind in the world. As outreach, the network offers information about spouse and family issues, mixed orientation marriages and spouse resources to professionals, community organizations and the media.

Results: * 53 support groups in the US and other countries * Spouse contacts for individual sharing in most US states and several foreign countries * Eight online support groups, most with chats and webs attached * Best of Northeast in the 2009 Pride Choice Awards, sponsored by GreatNonprofits

Geographic areas served: Worldwide

Programs: Provided for continuing avenues of communication with new and existing straight spouses who seek and require support. Promoted meetings of straight spouses. Provide on going web related information services, on-line bulletin board communications and live gatherings for direct communication among spouses.

produced newsletter for constituents who sign up to receive it.

fostered collective understanding and support for the rights and needs of the straight spouses in mixed orientation relationships.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SSN helped me at one of the lowest points of my life. I did not think anyone would understand what I was going through. I was so lost that it didn't even occur to me to seek help. My (then) husband gave me the link to SSN. The people at this organization not only saved my life, they helped me to start living again. There was a time when I didn't want my future. Thanks to those at SSN, I am happy again, and I can't wait to see what the future will bring. The staff and volunteers were kind, compassionate, and honest. They helped me find the path that was best for me and my family.

I started out receiving help from SSN, but today I volunteer as a facilitator for a support group. I am so glad to be able to help this organization continue to help others in need.

Previous Stories
20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my husband of 15 years came out as gay in 2004, I was shocked and devastated. I didn't know where to turn. After 2 months of not eating and hardly sleeping, my (then) husband searched for support for me. He found the Straight Spouse Network for me. I was concerned that the group might be anti-gay, but I was pleased to find that it is not. The support I have received has been life altering. It was such a comfort to hear from people who had been through similar situations, and it has been helpful for me to give back too. I don't know what I would have done without SSN, and I'm so thankful that the organization was there at my darkest hour.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I found this organization back in 2000 a few months after my then husband came out of the closet, announcing to me after almost 20 years of marriage, that he was gay. The group of people here reached out to me and listened and let me know I was not alone and with the help of Amity Pierce Buxton's book, the Other Side of the Closet, I was able to move forward with my kids, in a healthy manner. I discovered there were/are Face to Face Groups that get together at various locations throughout the country. This has been a God-send. I am post-disclosure 14 years and at this juncture my now new Hubby and I are at the Volunteer point where we give back our time and we organize an annual weekend Str8 event that takes place in October.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Straight Spouse Network helped me so much 12 years ago when I found out my husband was gay. I had immediate help! Someone contacted me immediately once I found this organization. The lifeline of the Straight Spouse Network helped me feel not so alone, It helped me feel sane and helped me get through this crazy mess of being married to a gay spouse. I am indebted to them which is why I am now in the give back mode and now help others in this unique situation.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

SSN saved my life! At the most crucial time in my life when I needed the most help, Amity Buxton was there. I reached out to her and she connected me immediately with people who walked my walk. She connected me with people who are now life long friends. I'm forever grateful for the love and passion SSN provided and, over the last ten years, I've been giving back.There are so many ways to help! Get connected. Straight Spouse Network http://www.straightspouse.org/

5 Wanda12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer as a support person in my local area. So many lives connected to our situation and very few resources that understand this side of the closet. While many of us support lgbt equality, the closeted community turns a blind eye toward us, as does the lgbt community at large who touts such a difficult path to their sexual freedom and give little if any to the lives and families that are imploded as a result of the "coming out" or "down low" situations we've collectively found ourselves in. SSN and those of us who encompass a wide variety of situations bound by one thread....loving or marrying a closeted lgbt person. It is in our commonality that we find support, resources and a shoulder to cry on or those who understand enough to laugh with us at the absurdity we've endured. The Straight Spouse Network embraces us, when those around us see us as broken people who just need to "get over it".

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Straight Spouse Network was there for me when I needed it most. After going into a second marriage (stupidly) with a known bisexual, it didn't take long for the wheels to come off in our marriage. I had been "Schooled" to think that being this broken was okay...well, this group of people gave me the confidence to love ME for who I am...I loved the support that I got RIGHT out of the chute, and it keeps getting better for those who need it now. Straight Spouse Network saved my life, literally.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After 28 years of marriage, my husband admitted that he was attracted to men. I'd heard it many years before - before we were dating even - but, when I'd asked him about it - he gave me an excuse I believed. Either way, to me, it meant an almost 30 year relationship had all been a lie. I found sanity and support with the Straight Spouse Network - and I learned I was NOT alone. The Straight Spouse Network gives support and healing to those of us who could be considered the collateral damage when the GLBT spouse finds his or herself.

Loren3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Straight Spouse Network is a saving grace. I found the organization after having filed for divorce from my gay-in-denial husband. I got a miraculous amount of support for what was the toughest decision I have made in my adult life. Now that I am on the other side of that dark place, I am committed to stay on for new straight spouses who need to see a shining light at the end of their tunnel. It does get better and the Straight Spouse Network provides the support we need to keep moving forward.

3 Patti25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To suggest that the Straight Spouse Network is a "lifesaver" is not hyperbole. It is a fact. I am living proof. When my former husband of nearly 30 years told me he was gay, I prayed to die in my sleep. I planned ways to kill myself that would appear to be accidental so our children wouldn't blame their father. My life changed in so many ways as a result of my relationship with SSN.

The value of peer support cannot be quantified.
This experience, according to most mental health professionals, is eclipsed only by the death of a child for a parent and spouse. No one, other than those who have lived it/are living it, can fathom the emotional toll this takes on a person.

I have been involved with the group since 1998.
Having a gay spouse is not the end of the world, but I certainly felt that way for a very long time. SSN helped me move through a very difficult process. It is an extremely isolating situation. The fact that someone, some wonderful str8 person, is willing to be on the other side of a screen or the other end of a phone conversation is invaluable. Being able to cry and laugh about the circumstances that arise is so important.

For those who have not been through this, it seems quite easy to say "get over it". That is simply not possible, especially if there are children involved. These are my friends, my dearest friends, many of whom I have known for more than a decade and yet, have never met.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has rescued so many men and women who find out that their spouses (sometimes after many years of marriage) are gay. My husband and I had been married for over 30 years and were actually planning our retirement. As our marriage and family life with 3 children had been a happy one, I was dumbfounded. In retrospect, there were signals but they had not been apparent.

When I learned of this organization and began to attend meetings regularly, this was a wonderful source of comfort and inspiration I learned that I was fortunate enough to have a husband who was eager to do what he could to help me in my new life after divorce. Many men and women are not as fortunate.

This is a very caring group of people anxious to do what they can to be helpful - especially the Board Members with whom I was privileged to serve for a term.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This incredible worldwide Network of peers has saved countless lives, including mine! I've been privileged to be able to play several roles. The one I seem to have played from the start (nine years ago) is Volunteer. And it started at my first "gathering" (groups of Str8s who just meet up to support each other for several days). I walked nervously into an ongoing Board Meeting, and the brilliant founder (who'd seen my writings in the confidential listserv) announced "Carolyn is going to get us Director's insurance." I was dumbfounded. But I did it. Two months later, I was visiting English relatives in London, and another Str8 whom I met only online n that same listserv, called me at the hotel and asked me to join her in representing the Network on the BBC! Since then, I've had the joy of being able to speak out in other fora. For the last four years or so, I've managed the "triage" process -- that is, helping people who write find the closest face to face peer support group or contact. It's absolutely unbelievably heartwarming to hear from these people afterward about how I helped change their lives! And I'm ONLY ONE of hundreds of volunteers doing this every single day of the year, helping thousand of people every year.

Previous Stories
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Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Straight Spouse Network saved what's left of my sanity! I found it in 2002, after my now ex husband of nearly 32 years disclosed he was gay. I was totally lost, and had no-one to talk to. The support, and caring, and outreach from this 99% volunteer organization helped me find my true self. I'd been "lost" for decades. The Straight Spouse Network is NOT homophobic, in any way. Nor does it speak against mixed orientation marriages. It merely supports those who find themselves among the invisible minorit work throught to find the best outcome for themselves. And it supports marital unions, so fewer of us will exist in the future!

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was married for twenty one years. It wasn't until the summer of 2002 that I started finding my husbands lifetime secret. He was gay. Shortly after I asked him to leave, a friend of mine saw an article in Dear Abby. It talked about SSN-The Straight Spouse Network. It is an international organization that lends support through the internet and local support groups for spouses that find themselves married to gay people. I joined the group in the Fall of 2002. SSN saved my life. Yet, it did more then that. It gave me lifetime friends across the United States and abroad. Our mission is to reach out, heal and build bridges. That is exactly what we do. They showed me that I was not alone. They took my devastation and created a new future for myself and my children. Through a horrific time, they gave me hope. I wouldn't be who I am today without thier support. Fondly, Ann St. Croix/NY

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was married for almost 18 years when my husband finally admitted to me that he was gay. I have stayed married and only recently started divorce proceedings, as I feel that it is in both my husband's and my best interest to move on with our lives. I wish him the best in his new life. SSN has helped me to get through the grief and painful parts of discovering that my husband was gay. I have had support from so many people on the email list and face to face in my local area, as well as at gatherings in other locations. I owe a lot to SSN.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found this organization back in July 2006 after finding out my husband was having a four year affair with the husband of my best friend. I was devastated and didn't know where to turn. I began google searching for any information I could find on the subject of women married to a gay man. I found this website and the support and and sense of community made me feel normal and that I had nothing to do with his actions. It has been over three years now and I am a volunteer working with other spouses in a large metropolitan area. In the beginning they look like deer in the headlights and over time they can even look back and laugh. They begin to re-frame their experience and find their new normal. It is a pleasure to work with such a fine organization.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization looks after all those involved in a mixed orientation marriage, those who stay together, those who split up, and works with both the gay and str8 spouses.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Straight Spouse Network is great and a lifesaver. I have been helped by great people in my time of need and moved on to live a happy life. I have also met and helped many people through Straight Spouse Netork. It was very therapeutic to me.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found and joined the Straight Spouse Network the same night my lesbian wife came out to me in October 1999, at that time I was a "client served". Finding this organization was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. During those "darkest days of my life", the kindness, understanding and support from the other members of SSN proved to be invaluable to me. This organization helped me eventually move past my personal pain to a point where I was able to start helping those that came behind me by becoming a volunteer in 2001. Almost 10 years later, I continue to be involved with and support this outstanding group that showed me that I could live and laugh again.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A wonderful group with an important mission! One day waking up & realizing your spouse is gay & in denial, is no walk in the park. The folks that are at SSN know this, since they have all been there. They offer Face to Face Meeting for folks around the world & I found them all very helpful during a very difficult time. I was & in some ways still am a "client served," but now am happy to volunteer my time to help.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Straight Spouse Network helped me to reclaim my true self. Having been married to a man who forced celibacy on me with no explanation that made sense, over time, my self esteem was destroyed. I had no faith in my own judgement and my spirit was broken. I didn't care if I lived or died. By bringing me together with others who completely understood me and what I was dealing with, I truly believe the Straight Spouse Network saved my life. I learned how to deal with "pretzel logic". I learned how to help myself while still supporting my gay spouse's need finally to be genuine. SSN is the ONLY organization that does this very important work. While the gay spouses is supported and congratulated for finally coming out, the Straight Spouse is left with realizing that their whole life as they knew it just turned up-side-down and it seems that nobody really cares. SSN cares. SSN helps these straight spouses to resolve coming out issues in a constructive way for not only the straight spouse, but the gay spouse and children and they do it with compassion and respect. It is truly a life-line for many.

15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There is no way I would have survived the lengthy aftermath of my divorce from a seriously disturbed closeted homosexual misogynist without the help and affirmation of the straight spouse network. In order to remain in the closet, my ex husband had to discredit me, because I knew. Our divorce was expensive, it took two years, and he dragged out the custody disputes for two more years, ending only when he lost at the appellate level. He wanted to be in control and "allow" me to be with the children - in other words remain his cover. I met so many wonderful men who affirmed my perceptions of what a family man truly is. I met other women who like me will never hear the words "honey I'm Gay" - but rather "you are a crazy liar who is making this all up". I realized that I was not alone, and that the denial of my liberal friends and church was a rebuke of me - and an embrace of the lie I refused to live and subject my children to. Because of the affirmation of these folks, and the TONS of factual information, I was able to survive this long ordeal (married 15 years, joint custody of our boys for 10 years after that)and now claim my own life. I am happy to help others know that they are not alone, we get it, we understand, and there are many different resolutions to this dilemma