Own Your Life
BY Charlene Strong
November 16 2011 1:50 PM ET
As the nurse gave me a look that I could not discern, she finally asked why I was being tested. I looked up at her and mumbled that my husband was gay and I wasn’t sure what he had been up to. Was it important for her to know my reasons? Was she going to write in my chart? I could just see it: “Woman marries gay man, test for HIV. “
The test was negative, and it was negative the three other times I was tested. It had not gotten me. I was free to find a real man. So I set out for redemption. I could be a good wife. I could be sexy and beautiful to a man that wanted me. It’s what I was determined to do.
As the second marriage unfolded and the months turned to years, the pain in my heart was getting too much to bear. My house was either black or white furniture, which matched the way I was looking at the world. My husband and I rarely talked and rarely touched, and when we did it was as if I wished I could be somewhere else.
I knew nothing else to do. I was feeling emotions and desires that I could not deny. I had felt funny around women in the past, but that was not who I was, nor did I really understand those moments, I could easily brush them aside, but it always had a way of creeping in. I was not going to question why I found women so…it’s hard to put into words. I had felt the thrill of being close to a woman once. She and I were in a church group and our amazing friendship grew. We would laugh until the wee hours of the morning and then fall asleep in each other’s arms explaining it away as a bed too small for the two of us.
One night I felt my heart beating out of my chest when she cuddled into me in the bed we were sharing on a retreat. I am sure she could feel the energy and my bounding chest. Her warm soft body was so close and my desire to touch her face and pull her into me for a soft kiss was so strong (what would it be like to kiss her lips, would she let me?) Just as I am relaxing into this moment I hear, “We need to pray. We need to pray that our love for each other is Agape and not Eros (a.k.a. friends, not lovers). I wasn’t going to disappoint and closed my eyes and prayed my gay away.
I never forgot that feeling and it only served to shut me down further into my denial and, after my first marriage, my homophobia was never far from the surface. I had prayed about my husband being gay and had prayed not to be gay myself. Why was it so hard?
I’m not sure I need to spell it out, but my heart was asleep. I was trapped in my heart that was not wiling to live.
As that second marriage continued to stagnate I decided to find something to do to bring some meaning to my life. My promise to myself when my father died was also part of my quest to make those changes I was determined to explore.
My husband and I were out enjoying a nice Sunday in June and, as we ran into the city’s gay pride celebration, we were not really able to get around the crowds waiting for the parade so we decided to watch the parade.