I am Executive Director of this wonderful organization that helps and supports anyone around the world who discovers their spouse/partner is LGBTQ. we are there for them along the pathway they never expected to be on.
When my husband told me he was gay I was devastated and ashamed; I thought I was the only one who had ever gone through such an experience. The Straight Spouse Network opened my eyes and let me see that I was not alone. It gave me a chance to meet with others in my area that had similar experiences and offered an internet support list that was available to me 24 hrs/day -- whenever I needed to cry, vent or just needed a boost. Thanks to them I put my despair behind me and moved forward with my new life. I have made life long friends and now proudly serve on the Board. My life has gone from black and white into full color again.
When my husband came out of the closet, this organization helped me enormously. I had no idea that other women and men had had this experience. I had been married for 30 years and had 3 children. In the Straight Spouse Network, I met many, many people who had had the same experience but in many cases, were far worse off than I. My husband had the courage to tell me the truth but many men and women hide their orientation and its their spouses who find out the truth very painfully. What the organization does is to refer the caller to the leader of a Face to Face group or to somebody else who lives in the same state or as near as possible so that the person has someone to talk to and in many cases, a group with which they can meet and talk.
ll years ago, my husband dealt me a blow after our marriage of 30 years. He told me that he was gay. We had had a happy, busy life with 3 children, two of whom had graduated from college and one who had almost finished. I had retired the year before and had been looking forward to having a wonderful retirement possibly lasting another 30 years or so with my husband. Fortunately, my sister-in-law, a pychiatric social worker had learned about the Straight Spouse Network through a colleague and when I was ready to do so, I contacted them through their website. I don't know what I would have done without them! The leader of my local Face to Face group called me that evening and invited me to the next meeting at her house. Since then, I have been connected with the organization and it really was my salvation. There is enormous comfort in finding out that you are not the only person who has been betrayed in this manner. I also found out very quickly that I was one of the fortunate straight spouses whose spouse was generous in our divorce settlement. There are many in our organization who have a constant battle with former spouses who refuse to pay child support and alimony. It is also very lonely for men and women who are used to having a companion, especially when there are children of any age in the house to realize how alone they are and sometimes, they are teticent about sharing such intimate information with others. Even if there are family members around, they are sometimes not ready to hear and can be quite hostile. What is really helpful are the list-servs and the many volunteers who mentor others. There are always plenty who are ready to listen and to sympathize.
I'm the Founder of the Straight Spouse Network, (1991), yet my hearing the pain expressed by the 1000's of spouses who have entered our worldwide network of "safe" places to talk about their devastated spirits and self worth and the trauma that comes from the shattering of belief system -- this experience keeps giving back to me and keeps me continue to do research and writing so that more people will understand "our" crisis and , in turn, realize that we are the unintended victims of the same pro-straight/antigay societal expectations that caused our LGBT spouses marry us in the first place. Our LGBT spouses struggled and we struggled with the impact of their finally feeling strong enough to come out of their closets. Most of us divorce, so we as well as they and our kids suffer. With this understanding, many straight spouses in the Network believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to a strengthening (not a weakening) of the institution of marriage.Thanks to Straight Spouse Network support and education network, these bridges of understanding have been built and many more are in construction.
I have gone through my share of challenges, difficulties, roadblocks and disappointments in my life. And I have weathered them all successfully. But none of those adverse situations can come close to the pain and anguish which descended on me when my husband of 29 years told me that he is gay. The Straight Spouse Network was my lifeline when I lost all sense of direction in my life. I found people who understood my situation--people who helped me re-learn how to trust, to put one foot in front of the other, to build new dreams and to forge a new and healthier life. In the world of those whose lives are impacted by the LGBTQ experience, the straight spouses who are left alone when the closet door opens often have a hard time finding support or anyone who understands what they are going through. The Straight Spouse Network does an amazing job of reaching out and offering real help at an unreal time. Through a network of volunteer responders throughout the United States and in several foreign countries they offer the understanding and the words of hope that empower people to move through the journey of forgiving, rebuilding and reclaiming life. All services are offered for free, but not without cost. Keeping a website up and running, preparing resources, doing triage, training support leaders, fundraising--all this and more are done on a very limited budget. Please endorse Straight Spouse Network and help give energy to the work of rekindling hope, trust and new dreams.
The Straight Spouse network helped me with support and encouragement at a time in my life when every thing was falling apart around me. My spouse had just told me he was gay and had been having affairs with men. My world spiraled out of control and I was on the verge of ending it all, and then I entered Straight spouse in a search engine. I found out I was no longer alone. This group provides hope, understanding and educates on all levels. They have saved many lives.
I discovered my now-ex husband was/is gay after nearly 32 years of marriage! You can imagine what a shock it was. It took me nearly four months to find the Straight Spouse Network (in 2002) and I have been very actively involved since then -- as a volunteer, Board member, (volunteer) Staff Member, speaker to media (TV, newspapers, radio, magazines, and an upcoming documentary). Without this group, I feel as if I would have just curled up and died. I've seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of str8 spouses slowly but surely go from abject despair to comtemplating a future in which there might be job. Oh, please support this extraordinary VOLUNTEER organization!
After my husband came out after 25 years of marriage, I was stunned and felt totally alone, facing an unresolvable challenge. Fortunately, I found a San Francisco support group where I met other wives whose husbands had come out as gay or bisexual and, surprise! they were all normal, attractive, intelligent women. My husband's being gay had nothing to do with me! Slowly, with the help of the group and reading,I put together a more coherent and strong identity, integrity and belief system. This lifesaving experience motivated me to found the Straight Spouse Network in 1991 so that every straight wife or husband worldwide could find support and help to reconfigure their true selves, with or without their partners. Since then, watching suicidal spouses slowly regain their inner core only because other spouses were there to connect them with help keeps reminding me why SSN exists and why it must be kept alive and well. Volunteers do most of the work, yes, but a core staff is needed to coordinate its triage, support services, educational publications, and PR.
In 1979(!) my ex began to face worsening depression. Over the course of the next four years he slowly recognized that his depression had sprung out of the fact that the homophobic world in which he grew up had pushed him to deny that he was gay ... and to feel extremely guilty about the occasional feelings of attraction toward men that cropped up. We separated because he needed to be honest about his identity and his relationships. He could not continue living a lie. Meaning, of course, that our marriage had been a lie. My sense of reality crumbled. I put up a good fight against devastation by plunging into all sorts of activities that affirmed life. I still could not break through the isolation that resulted from the fact that NO ONE really understood why or how our separation differed from any other divorce. I finally sank into profound depression. In the earliest years of the Straight Spouse Network, I talked with a member of this organization who simply "got it" and affirmed that there was a unique kind of betrayal that typically shatters (or at least undermines) parts of the Straight Spouse's world view. That conversation was a breakthrough on the path to healing. I quickly determined that I would do what I could to ensure that others might hear the words affirming that they are not alone ... and that the issues are not about THEM, or because of them, but stem from the very identity of their spouse. and I cannot count the number of people who have told me that they might not have made it without the support of the Straight Spouse Network
I found SSN in 2001 and they saved my sanity if not my life. Since then I have volunteered in many capacities. It is the only organization that "gets it" for the straight spouse
This worldwide network of support that reaches from Nepal to New York helped me and tens of thousands of other women and men heal and cope constructively when our husbands or wives came out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. None of us is alone any more, fighting the pain of this disclosure in isolation. Together, we show society the unintended domino effect on entire families when glbt person are pressured into traditional marriages as the "right thing to do."