Straight spouses of the LGBT community have taken Gay Pride Month to come out of their own closet.
While showing support for their current or former spouses, straight wives and husbands have taken the month of June to create awareness of their existence through their own pride named, “Straight spouses, too. Out there, everywhere.”
“Most spouses marry without knowing the sexual orientation or gender identity of their partners, many of whom don’t know or acknowledge it themselves.
“When they come out after a long struggle, the straight husbands and wives face their own coming out issues. Often straight spouses become an invisible minority, coping alone in their own closets—that’s where the Straight Spouse Network can help,” said Amity Buxton, founder of the Straight Spouse Network (SSN)
It is estimated that there are up to two million Americans that are, or were at some point in their lives married to LGBT spouses.
The experiences of straight spouses have been a significant part of the gay movement, but their stories hardly grab the headlines.
Kathy Callori, SSN executive director explains:
“Because of the invisibility factor there is a lack of public understanding and a lack of funding to meet the increasing requests for help.
“At the same time, our commitment to decrease the number of family tragedies caused by anti-gay pressures to form heterosexual marriages compels us to make our voices heard.
“That is why we declared June Pride 2008 the time for straight spouses to stand up and speak out for ourselves and for the well being of future families.”
In conjunction to the Pride month, SSN has launched a June campaign to raise £12,800 to fund their efforts.
SSN is a non profit organisation that provides personal, confidential support and resource information for and about straight spouses and their families.
The programme, which is the only kind in the world, aims to raise the visibility of straight spouses and mixed-orientation couples and accessibility to support.
SSN also offers research-based publications and uses personal stories to educate communities and organisations about the hurtful impact of anti-gay attitudes.
It currently has 74 support groups in the US and 7 other countries and 9 online support groups, mostly with chats and webs attached.
“Supported by SSN, spouses stop feeling like victims of homophobia and become victors in their own lives,” said Sam Cheney, President of the SSN Board of Directors. “Many become vocal advocates for GLBT equality.
For example, the Straight Spouse Network published a position paper in support of same-gender marital unions in 2006, and reaffirmed it this year to endorse the successful push for marriage equality in California.”