Coming to terms with your sexuality can be a long and difficult process. Sometimes, the path to acceptance is more complicated than you think.
Here, LGBTQ people reveal what it was like being married to someone of the opposite sex.
1. It was rough. I married my high school girlfriend who was also my best friend. I knew I was gay but also had a very religious upbringing. I was committed to my faith but was never comfortable lying about who I was. So I 'came out' before I was married in my late teens. But it was with the understanding that I would commit myself to a heterosexual lifestyle and under go conversion therapy. One of the final 'steps' in my therapy was to step out on faith and get married. I was told the holiness of the vows I said would purify me and I would be straight. Long story short... Disillusionment. After a year of marriage the world and reality came into focus. I got divorced. Ruined my best friendship (and all my friendships really). But now I'm a proud gay man in a loving relationship with the love of my life. A man, of course.
I regret nothing. My journey made me who I am. I feel wiser for it. Though I went through some very dark times, I feel it's made me much better of a person and I'm able to really appreciate myself and my life.
2. My aunt is gay. Her and my uncle got a divorce about 20 years ago (for reasons not having to do with my aunt being gay). They are both remarried and the four of them are quite good friends! My aunt's current wife actually introduced my uncle and his current wife.
3. This was me. I was in deep denial, got married and had a kid. After depression and lots of therapy, I came out to my wife. She insisted on me moving out shortly after.
She was supportive of me in her own way. Coming out to my parents was actually more difficult. Honesty and loyalty do have merits! I have been living with a boyfriend for several years now, and I still get along well with my ex wife. Kid is doing well too. So all turned out well, although there was a lot of difficulty and sadness to go through. Dating can be the pits, but I found a great guy I love very much. I am really very lucky.
4. My friend's parents divorced when her mom came out as a lesbian. They are still friendly, but they don't talk much. The mom lives with her partner, and the dad dates occasionally, but neither have remarried.
5. I grew up in a very conservative religious environment and for me, being gay was never an option. I married a man, at a young age, because that's what I believed I was supposed to do.
By 24, I had an inkling that I was into ladies. When I went back to university at that age, I was able to start exploring an independent identity away from both the church, and the expectations placed on me by being in a straight marriage. Most of my new friends were surprised when they found out I was married to a man, so I was obviously throwing out some lesbian vibes long before I came to any realization or acceptance within myself.
I got to the point where I realized I identified as a lesbian, but let obliged to honor the marriage vow I had made (story continued on the next page...).
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I gave my husband several opportunities to leave, and he made it clear that despite my sexuality and my unhappiness in the relationship by that point, he wanted to remain married to me. I wasn't in love with him, but I loved him enough to not want to hurt him, and even more so knew leaving him would also mean my family turning their backs on me.
Then, 3 years years ago I met the most incredible woman while we were volunteering for a program we would both go on to work for. She had struggled with her own sexuality, and gender identity, for a long time and had never dated a woman either. But we fell in love. Instantly. Overwhelmingly. And we struggled for what seemed an eternity but was in reality only a few months over what to do but I realized I couldn't keep pretending to be someone I wasn't. By my 30th birthday, and my 8 year anniversary, I had told my husband I was leaving and told most of my closest friends. It took another 2 months for me to actually leave because I was frightened, and had no financial support or savings of any kind. I had to drop out of my masters program and get a job (which I was failing out of anyway because of the stress of everything going on anyway).
So now, 3 years down the track, I have an amicable but increasingly distant relationship with my ex. My parents barely speak to me and refuse to acknowledge my incredible girlfriend, and my sister has banned me from contact with my nieces. But I have ceased the antidepressants and anti anxiety medications I previously relied on, and am much more content with my life. I've stopped feeling like "one day my life will change and I'll be different" because it's happened and I'm living it now and hey, life's not perfect, but it's still great.
6. My uncle was married for years (10+ I think), had four kids, and (to me, and a lot of others) was quite obviously gay.
He came out and has been with his partner for 5+ years now. I think the way I remember it was that he did love his ex-wife very much. He didn't want to hurt her but he knew he was unhappy living the lie. As far as I know (they live in a different city), he's still relatively close with his ex-wife and he's very close with all his kids.
I see him during the holidays and he's an amazing, hilarious guy. As is his partner!
7. My grandfather is gay. He and my grandmother divorced a long time ago because, well, I don't really know but I assume it's because he's gay. He met my new grandpa after putting an ad in the paper that said, "Socrates looking for his Aristotle."
I always liked that story.
8. High school friend married his high school sweetheart. Turned out he was gay. 5 years and 3 children later his wife found out. This did not turn out well. See, both families were very strict pentecostal adherents. They were divorced, and a year later both his, and her, families started telling people that he had died. The thing was, their stories varied greatly.
Came to find out years later that that when he failed a few "pray away the gay" sessions they kicked him out of the church. When someone is excommunicated from this church they are referred to as if they had died, but apparently they don't make up a coherent story for the whole congregation to use. What really happened was he had moved to New York, found another man, settled down and lived together for 10 years before he died of aids. To this day his family still says he died back in 1988.
9. My last girlfriend realized she was gay about 6 months into our relationship. It hit her hard. She really didn't want to be a lesbian. We used to know each other years ago, and both had always wanted to be with each other, but life kept getting in the way, one or both of us were already in relationships every time we reconnected. Eventually the stars aligned and we started dating. It was awesome. Then, 6 months later- boom. I stuck by her, we stopped sleeping together but kept hanging out. It was tough for me losing my girl yeah, but I immediately realized it was even tougher for her, and she needed me to stick around so I did. I have lunch with her once or twice a week still to this day. We still have love for each other, confide in each other, and i consider her one of my best friends. There's no residual romantic feelings or anything, just really close friends. Honestly comparing it to my past relationships this one had the smoothest breakup, if you could even call it that.
I lost a romantic partner and gained a totally rad friend.
10. I watched my wife come to terms with being bisexual before ultimately realizing that she was gay.
I knew before she did but gave her the space to discover it on her own. We took a few weeks apart from each other before deciding what to do. I told her I was still in this and was willing to figure it out. She said she wasn't willing to "doom" me to a marriage like that. I was relieved she thought so.
We laughed through our divorce proceedings and joked a little with the judge. You've got to in that situation. Here we were still in love but destined not to stay together. Our county legal documents are archaic and it's now public record.
I still love her (story continued on the next page...).
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I'm remarried to a wonderful woman who I'm pretty sure isn't gay. But the worry is still there. Might not ever go away. Maybe she's gay too but would never want me to go through a divorce a second time so she'll keep it to herself. She's thoughtful like that. One of the reasons why I love her. The worry is silly but it's the baggage that you get from this sort of thing. My ex wife and I are still in touch. I can't talk to anyone the way we talk. It's the familiarity of a spouse without the consideration. I can say anything without much consequence. We're not invested in each others lives so it doesn't matter what the other says. We laugh about what happened to us. It's been a few years so it's ok. It wasn't easy but, in hindsight it was the best reason to get divorced. It's not my fault. She still loves me. She told me she'd never find anyone who loves her the way I do, and I believe her.
It's just that I'm male. I can't help that but I tried anyway. I have pride from that. Shame too but mostly pride. Besides, I wouldn't change a thing. Not really. Why would I if it made me who I am now and I like me. I don't like the worry, but I can live with it.
11. So I ended up marrying a woman who was gay. We were together for a total of four years before we separated. I had no idea at the time but once I found out it made a lot of sense. Certain things of our relationship could be explained quite easily by her being gay.
After we separated I was really hurt for a long time, still sometimes hard to deal with my trust issues. But my ex is just as much of a victim of circumstance as I am. Figuring out one's sexuality is not always an easy process and I am sure she loved me but was just not sexually attracted to me whatsoever. Now we are nearly divorced and there is very little anger from either side. I think we both want to be able to get on with our lives. I hope she finds what she wants!
12. My dad came out to me later the same year after my mom had died. She was his third wife. They had been married for 22 years. I always knew they didn't get along well but I didn't have a clue that reveal was coming. My father eventually found someone and had a few good years before he passed away five years ago. He was a different man after he came out. I sometimes wonder how different things would of been had be come out earlier.
13. My dad is gay, he and my mom got divorced about 16 years ago. My mom got remarried about 10 years ago and my dad has been with his partner for about 13. They all get along really well too, I actually think my mom likes my dad's partner more than she likes him.
Here's the kicker the guy my mom married is actually my dad's best friend from high school, and he was the best man at my mom and dad's wedding.
14. My mom was married to my father, however my mom came out as a lesbian. They are on great terms they hang out all the time. My mom has a partner and my dad has a girlfriend (I like both of their partners).
15. My father is gay.
My parents were married for approximately 3 years. They divorced shortly after my birth due to "incompatibility". Basically they fought all the time.
My mother has said that in hindsight, there were signs of his being gay, but at the time she was either in denial or blind to it.
My father knew he was gay for as long as he can remember. He thought that by not indulging in his desires and living a "normal" life, he could basically bury his homosexuality so deep that it would go away. His own father was a homophobic, alcoholic father and my father was the only son amongst the five children so he felt a lot of pressure to be the "perfect son".
His attempts to lead a "normal life" resulted in him being, for lack of a better word, miserable. He was angry at the world and took it out on my mother because she was the closest person to him (story continued on the next page...).
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I was 5 years old when my father came out. I remember the day I found out like it was yesterday; my mother picked me up from school and took me out for ice cream. We sat in the car and she said we needed to talk. I thought I was in trouble. She was acting weird (now I know how hard it must've been for her to figure out how to tell a five year old, and that it was anxiety, worry, and nervousness. At the time I thought she was angry or sad).
She just came right out and said, "Daddy is gay." I sat and drank my vanilla frappe for a minute in silence, her waiting for some sort of response. Then I burst in to tears. She tried to comfort me and asked me if I knew what that meant. I didn't. I had no idea what gay was, but I knew about AIDS, HIV and cancer, and the seriousness in which she had said it made five year old me think that she was saying Daddy was very sick and dying. I thought it was a disease.
She told me that he was not sick, he was very healthy, but that instead of loving and marrying women, he loved men.
Well, that was that. I wiped my tears a finished my frappe. I didn't give a crap who my dad loved and wanted to be with, as long as I would still have him around. That's what awesome about kids; they just don't give a crap. They love without condition an judgement. The most pure love there is in the world.
I found out years later that my mother had talked to a lot of psychiatrists and therapists who told her NOT to tell me, that it could be damaging to my psyche. I don't know what they're reasoning was, but I'm glad she didn't listen. I wouldn't have wanted my father to hide who he was from me, and I grew up much more open and accepting because of it. Plus, my dad has been with the same man since I was 9, I would've missed a pretty cool stepdad, too.
Anyway, my mother and father are ok now. It's complicated, I guess. They say that they can't stand each other, but they are quite amicable and see each other often, they love to give each other crap; honestly, they remind me of a brother and sister, or possibly an old married couple with the constant bickering.
16. I honestly had buried my true sexuality so far into myself, that I was truly convinced I could marry a man for the longest time. We weren't married, but I was engaged for a year to a man. It wasn't this sudden moment of realization that I was actually gay or anything, but there was definitely one moment that stands out as the moment I started to realize I couldn't live like this. I was watching a romantic movie, and realized that I wanted to be the man on screen because I wanted to be able to spend the rest of my life with a woman.
About three months after that, I told my close family members and fiance. It was really tough but we are still friends and my family has been extremely suppotive.
17. This just happened to my parents within the last year. It tore apart my family. I'm currently 16 with younger siblings ages 12 and 9. It really threw a monkey wrench into their childhood. My dad hated my mom for it for the longest time and I still feel like he does. My grandparents are extremely religious and when they found out they attempted to have her exorcised by a priest. They are currently trying to gain custody of us because they don't agree with being raised by a gay parent. I can't speak for my mom, who is gay, about how life has been but this has been my perspective on the entire situation. I still love them dearly even though my extended family has stopped talking to us.
18. My ex-husband is gay, and yes, I knew. It was a difficult situation because he was really deeply in the closet and would not admit that he was gay, even to himself. He kept saying that he was bisexual, but his gay porn collection grew and our sex life died. We were together for 10 years. Since he wouldn't admit it, I wasn't able to confide in my friends about the issues I was having with his sexuality and get advice. When I finally asked for a divorce some of our friends were jerks to me about it because no one knew he was gay.
He eventually wound up coming to terms with being gay, met a nice guy, and bought a house and some yappy dogs. His parents are really uncomfortable with his orientation, but his partner's parents have been extremely welcoming. We are still good friends and talk often. I try not to dwell on all the time I wasted in the relationship by keeping in mind that it's what led me to meeting the guy I'm married to now, who is awesome.
19. Not me but a relative. Got married, had three kids, and decided to come out with his boyfriend. As far as I know he's still their father and while the family is broken up to an extent, he is still in their lives. As well as financial support.
The best part that when my dad heard, he mentioned "so guess who in my family just came out as gay" and my mom nailed it first guess. Apparently from a handshake years ago, she could tell, and remembered all those years.
20. My mother and father met in Key West, on Houseboat Row. My dad lived with his boyfriend and they befriended my mom who was currently in a relationship with an absolute jerk. They convinced her to leave him and with my 13 year old half brother, moved into another houseboat. The boyfriend ended up splitting, so my mom and dad decided to marry, settle into a house of their own and be a "real" family (back in the 80's) (story continued on the next page...).
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My mom really wanted a stable, bring-home-the-bacon kind of guy. Well my dad loved my mom, brother and really wanted a baby. But, as my mom enjoyed reminding me, sex was not easy and I'm a 'miracle', because it only happened once.
The HIV crisis reached a head, and they decided to be tested - fortunately, my mother was negative. Unfortunately, my father was not. They made it through two increasingly strained years of being a married couple after I was born, then separated. I grew up spending time in both households, and found my father's preferable. My mom went back to living with jerks. I didn't know he had HIV until I was 12, and it progressed to AIDS and started to be sick all the time, losing weight, sleeping a lot. I had blood tests what felt like all the time growing up, but I've remained HIV negative.
They were really close friends throughout my childhood. My mom wanted a divorce, but my dad refused simple proceedings, so she couldn't marry one of those loathsome scumbags. My mom gave me her beautiful engagement and wedding ring set at 18. My dad always looked out for her, was always her safe haven, shoulder to cry on. He loved her in the most pure sense of the word.
My father passed away when I was 21. My mother passed two years after my dad, when I was 23, five days after my son was born. I named him after both of them.
21. My aunt met her partner she was still married and her husband was a friend. One day they were out for drinks she started crying to her husband about how much in love she was with my aunt. A few months later they got divorced and she and my aunt started dating. That was 20 years ago and they are still together.
22. My parents separated about 9 years ago when my dad came out. It was rough for a bit and other psychological issues complicated things but after time, therapy, lots of talking, and honestly mutual love and respect, they got to a really great place. They live about 2 minutes away and are best friends. My dad has a partner now but my parents are still legally married for legal reasons. My grandparents on both sides were and are still great friends.
As my dad said, he still love my mom, it's just different. He is sorry that he hurt people but he's glad he has my siblings and me.
The only real interesting thing was when it became prudent to tell my girlfriend's somewhat-conservative parents. There's not much of a story there, but they were surprised. And, as an aside, hopefully challenged in their views.
23. My parents were married for 20 years before they finally got divorced because my dad is gay. I never asked but I suspect my mother knew something for a while. My mom has been remarried for 12 years and my dad has been with his partner for 13 years. The man my mom married after my dad is actually my dad's best man at the first wedding. The three of them were all friends from college.
The funniest part of to story is that since my mom was part of my dad's family for 20 years and her parents are dead along with my stepdad's, they go to my dad's side of the family for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It used to be overwhelming when I was younger having four parents watch you but I love that we can celebrate it all together. The joke always is that my dad's family loves my mom more than they love my dad.
I think it actually worked out pretty well in the end. There were rough times between me and my dad but most of those come from other problems in our relationship.
24. My mom is a lesbian. She knew she was lesbian, hoped she was bisexual, married my dad anyway. They got divorced when I was seven, my sisters were four. Mom found a great girl about three years after the divorce and they've been together ever since. My Dad on the other hand has never found anyone else, and is still bitter as hell about being "conned" by the woman who he thought was his soulmate.
25. My wife is bisexual but heavily favors the ladies. She likes to say that I am to only guy that she is interested in.
She is super open about it, has been out to me since before we were only dating. I don't have any issues with it (story continued on the next page...).
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To the contrary, I have stated multiple times that if at any point in time she feels the need to pursue the extent of her sexuality (more so than what she has prior to being with me) she is more than welcome to on the condition that I meet the person in question. It is not to be weird, but more along the lines of if I know who it is and the intentions of what they are doing in advance I would be far less upset (to the point of not being upset at all) than if it was to happen behind my back with me finding out later.
Ten years later... She is one of the leading personalities in our county for LGBTQ issues and resources. I am super proud of her and all of the things that she has accomplished. She has never taken me up on seeing a lady to this day. The reason for which I don't bother asking because if she wanted to talk about it she would.
I love her until the end of days, and she does me. If things ever get to the point where she no longer fancies me in any way to the point of ending our relationship, then that will be how it goes.
26. I have a good friend whose parents divorced after having three kids for this very reason. From what I understand, they were both under the impression that he was straight when they were married, and it was a slow realization over time. While it must have been incredibly difficult for both of them, they went on to remain incredibly close, co-parented, and both re-married (although his marriage was unfortunately not recognized as such back then).
27. Friend of mine is a FtM transgender person. He was living in a lesbian relationship with his female partner when he decided that he wanted to change. They are still happily together. The most grief they get is from the LGBTQ community, who aren't very accepting.
28. I'm a late-bloomer (raised to be straight, assumed I was straight, forced myself to ignore all other urges/desires towards other women, etc.), and my husband of 2+ years has been unbelievably sweet and supportive since I've come out to him (it's been about 3 months now). There have been rough days, for sure... hell, rough weeks, but for now we're far too happy with the life we have together to consider getting divorced.
I've discovered that there is a lot more to love than attraction... Yes, I prefer women, and if I was single I'd be with women exclusively, but I seriously can't imagine my life without my husband by my side. I hope that everyone else in this same situation, whether you stay together or not, finds true happiness. You all deserve it.
29. I have a friend who was the youngest of three children and after 20 years of marriage, her father came out. Then, just last year, her mum came out.