Yesterday I realized it had been one year to the day since Ray came out publicly. What a year it's been. First off, there was one after another supportive e-mails to the website. That was within the first few hours. Then the FLOOD of, "I can't believe it...", "I'm so disappointed...", and, "How could Ray have chosen the gay lifestyle...?". I began to make some folders for the different responses. These folders were 1) Supportive, 2) Non-supportive, 3) Oddly supportive. Sub-folders under the non-supportive ones were a) Stupid, and b) Downright mean. I have 1000s of each type, and I keep getting them all the time.
But what are the real, personal changes that have occurred since LAST Sept. 12?
For one, I could finally walk in the open! I was no longer closeted! I always had felt I did nothing to be ashamed of, and I could now hold my head high and not worry about what people knew or didn't know. If I wanted to, I could be open about my life and my family (including Ray, if it was pertinent).
Two, I started being open online. I started this blog. And through the blog, I began to make contacts with other wives, ex-wives, husbands and ex-husbands, who knew FIRST-HAND what it was like to have a GLBT spouse. I often hear from both sides, and I sympathize with them all. Many married in hope that they would be "healed" or "fixed" from gay feelings, along with real love for their spouses, only to realize sooner or later that they were still gay. Lives, entwined with family obligations, became tangled and hurt. It's amazing how these online connections not only help to know, "I'm not alone," for us all, but how widespread mixed-orientation marriages really are.
Thirdly, I am now an outspoken advocate for gay rights. I don't have to be a silent partner in the work to end religious discrimination against GLBTQs. Outside of the religious network of churches, there really is a growing acceptance of gay people, and so work within our churches is essential. I want to be able to continue speaking up on behalf of ALL gay folk, and I do not have anything to apologize for.
When I make new friends these days, they know within a short while of knowing me, that I'm supportive and affirming of ALL gay people. If they don't agree or can't see it like I do, then they have to decide if I'm still worth their friendship. I'm making new friends these days, and if they aren't at the very least WELCOMING of GLBTs, then they probably won't be in my close circle of friends. My life can't be closed off any more, and I won't be silent.
Also, my kids now have the freedom to mention their dad, and they do, without shame. They can openly be proud of their dad and all he's done and who he is: Their DAD! They don't have to make excuses, and can speak up as being the close family that they are. No secrets keep them hemming and hawing about anything. They love and respect their dad, and are not restricted by trying to cover up any part of their lives.
All together, I think it is generally known how I feel. 'Nuff sed.
Today I heard from another straight wife, who found out earlier this year that her husband has been secretly sexually active with other men for the past 4 years. My heart aches for her and what she's enduring. To make it all worse, she was court-ordered to keep silent. That means she can't talk with her grown sons, her divorce-care group, or her friends. I don't even know if that is legal! How awful to have to bear this with a "gag order" imposed that puts her into the dark, silent closet. What a wrong thing, even if it's legal. There's healing in honesty, and this woman needs to be able to openly say what she needs to say, in order to begin her healing. She hopes to someday be openly affirming as well. Kudos to her!
Openness and honesty is freeing, and it's life-changing when we have information that makes such a difference. For me, being out of the closet is much better. My life is worth sharing, ALL of it. I'm who I am. Ray's who he is. My kids have a gay dad - that's that!
It's been a big year for the Boltz family! Yeah for being OUT!