Scroll To Top

Straights, and Divorce

Straights, and Divorce


As the never-ending public slugfest between former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey and ex-wife Dina Matos McGreevey demonstrates, the dissolution of a marriage is hard -- harder still when the separation involves a coming-out.

The anger and self-doubt accompanying any divorce is exponentially greater for the straight wives or husbands whose spouses announce they're gay and leaving. It's an unenviable position -- one that often includes thoughts of I should've known and Did I turn him/her gay? Amity Buxton has been helping people get through this situation for years through the organization she founded, the Bay Area-based Straight Spouse Network.

"Being rejected as a man or a woman is the hardest thing to go through," says Buxton, who was married for 25 years to a closeted man. Her group provides support and education for and by current and former spouses of LGBT people (as well as some gay members of those relationships). "Our goal is that gay people don't feel they have to get married because of social pressure," says Buxton, "that they could marry each other and we wouldn't have so many family tragedies."

The Straight Spouse Network began in 1991, an outgrowth of spouse meetings sponsored by PFLAG. It has an annual budget of about $100,000 and thousands of participants across the country. "Most people don't understand how this is different from a usual affair or divorce," says Buxton. "When the spouses find people who understand their anger and explain they didn't turn anyone gay, they gradually stand on their own feet again and understand the gay point of view." The network links up people through, aligning those in similar situations.

Once a spouse comes out, couples fall into one of three categories, Buxton says. Either they immediately separate, they try to make it work but divorce within a few years, or they commit to the marriage, either as a monogamous, celibate, or open-relationship couple. The network passes judgment on no one, Buxton says.

Living up to its aforementioned goal, the network listed itself as an endorser of the ACLU's successful case against California's ban on same-sex marriage. The network also condemned reparative therapy, and attempts to help high-profile figures who've separated from gay spouses. Buxton has spoken several times with Matos McGreevey.

Says Buxton: "One of the things Dina said was, 'It took me a minute to decide whether to go out on TV with him [when McGreevey came out publicly]. And I thought, I need to be there in my own right. The public thought, I'm standing by my man. No -- I needed to show I'm still here and still strong.' "

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories