Apparently we’re not alone. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been looking, but I’m seeing more and more stories about gay men married to straight women. Movies like Brokeback Mountain (trailer) and the more recent German film Freier Fall (trailer); essays like Tim Rymel’s I’m a Gay Man Who Married a Straight Woman, or Josh Weed’s Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary.
I find that I relate to many parts of many of these stories, and yet there’s also something missing. Almost without fail, the wives in these stories are flat, boring, lifeless. I feel like the wives in the two movies could have been replaced by any generic woman; They barely qualify as stick figures.
In truth, I’ve known women (and men) who are like this in real life. Dimensionless, monochrome, untouched. I think of a couple of the women in my church growing up: smiling, distant, impervious to the ups and downs of life. But my wife is not one of them! She’s not at all like that. She’s gutsy, earthy, funny, and quirky. Strong, kind, and generous. Independent, but relational and loyal. And she’s hurting. Grieving and anguished by the second-time-around revelation that I’m gay. Still gay.
If they were to make a movie of our story – hers and mine – it wouldn’t be like Brokeback or Freier Fall. Her story, and her character, would would compelling in their own right. Her half of our story would be rich, resonant, raw. We’ve laughed together, played together, cried together. Glorious days of adventure and travel. Sleepless nights mourning those we’ve lost or worrying about our kids. Ordinary days spent shopping or painting or working in the garden. Trips to the beach; driving cross country; dreaming together of our shared future. And now, traumatized. Wracked with confusion and angst. Questioning why God didn’t come through for us. Don’t forget her half of our story.