NEXT HEALING WEEKEND
There is still time to come to my next HEALING WEEKEND which is only weeks away in Philadelphia on Saturday, April 29 – Sunday, April 30. If you would like to be part of this amazing weekend, please email me at Bonkaye@aol.com and put the word “Healing” in the subject box. I will send you details. There is no charge for the weekend outside of travel, lodging, and food. This is a life-changing experience for people who need help during the grieving and recovery process.
HAPPY 16 YEAR ANNIVERSARY TO MY READERS
This month marks the anniversary of my first newsletter in March of 2001. Sometimes I really feel like “retiring” because how much can any one person keep saying? But I keep going, fueled by your letters and your pain. In all of these years, the situation has barely changed at all. Women still feel the emotional “isolation” while going through this even though millions of us are doing or have done it. Believe me, it’s not a handful when the numbers are in the millions—and that’s just in this country.
In the years since I’ve started writing these newsletters, I’ve had over 27,000 monthly readers, many whom have gone on to new lives and healing wishing me goodbye and thanks. I was their “lifeline” during this time of numbness and confusion. When people “graduate” and asked to be removed from the list, I am so happy to say goodbye and good luck. Being a straight wife does not have to define your future. The goal is to heal from it and restart your life over. Many of our women have found real happiness with a straight man. Others have found happiness being alone on their own by CHOICE. Either way is the right way. There is no wrong way to move on except for one way—finding a mentally or physically abusive situation again with a predator who senses your weakness after a destructive marriage. Sadly, this happens, too, when women don’t spend the time they need in Gay Husband Recovery. They run and jump too fast looking for love in all the wrong places. They haven’t learned the lesson from that famous Whitney Houston song that learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.
That may sound trite—but ask someone who has found happiness again, and she’ll tell you that it’s true. If you don’t love yourself enough, you will never get the love you deserve and should expect to find with a man. You’ll settle for less—and still not find inner peace. A true relationship with a new partner has to be one based on fulfilling your needs—not just you walking down that street of pleasing a man so he will stay with you. You did that for enough years of your life—and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter that your new husband is straight—in fact, it’s worse. At least with a gay husband you know the problems were because he was gay, but with a straight husband, there are different problems. Now it’s not the “gay” messing up your life—it’s other problems that you may not even know about that you have to now face. And trust me, you’ll fall back into those old habits of having to do all of the pleasing like you did/are doing with your gay husband because you will be convinced that “you” are the problem. That’s just the way it is. Period.
If you are strong when you are ready to meet a new partner, you’ll have a better chance of seeing those red flags of danger waving in your face and knowing when to run in the other direction. Your new mantra will be “NEVER AGAIN!” Hopefully you won’t get your heart broken too badly, and even more hopefully, you’ll gain back some sexual confidence and insight into sex with a straight man. I always say that no experience is wasted experience—even if it isn’t the “forever” experience. These “starter relationships” help you realize that you aren’t emotionally wounded or sexually numbed forever. They awaken feelings in you that you thought were gone, and that is the purpose they serve.
One thing that saddens me the most is that after all of these years of writing, talking, speaking, and spreading the word, straight wives still don’t matter. No one has taken up our cause of seeing how we are the true heroes and how we continue to suffer. I hate to keep repeating this message, but I can’t help it. I want us to feel like “victors” more than “victims,” and the only way that will happen is when society acknowledges that we are SUPERWOMEN who withstood more pain than almost any other woman does. We try our hardest to make our hubbies happy but to no avail. We are missing that magic wand if you get the double meaning there. No matter how loving and helpful we are, it will never replace what he really wants and needs—and it’s not us—it’s a man.
Over the next five years, I plan to move things to a new height is getting people to understand why we are the real heroes here—not “self-imposed” whiners who must have known that our husbands were gay. Yep. That’s what many on the outside think. They are so smug in thinking that we knew but accepted it anyway. Sometimes they even think that we caused it—misinformation thrown into the fire by some angry gay men. But we know the truth. The truth is we didn’t know “gay.” We didn’t understand “gay.” We couldn’t conceive why a man who wanted men would want to marry us. Some of us still don’t understand it—but we have to live with it because it’s the truth.
I am looking for women who will stand with me while I do battle with what the screwed up divorce system this country has called NO FAULT DIVORCE when there is a fault. It’s misleading to think that these marriages are like other marriages when they are not. There is no fault here when our gay husbands reveal they are gay and want to leave. That’s not our fault—it’s his fault. That’s why I am going to challenge the NO FAULT and try to change it to YOUR FAULT divorce. It’s going to take a lot of fighting because in this country, divorce is done state by state. There are some states that accept adultery as a reason for divorce, but they don’t consider gay sex as adultery. Something must be done to change the laws.
I am asking my readers to see who will help me on this mission. I’ve asked before, but the response was not enough to start this moving. I think you can see that now is the time for us to unite and start standing up for ourselves. Until the world can understand that STRAIGHT WIVES MATTER, we will continue to allow ourselves to feel minimized by not only our marriages, but also by society.
If you want to help, please write to me and put the work READY in the subject box. We’ll take it from there. And maybe by the time of my next newsletter anniversary, we will have made great strides. Tell all of your straight wives friends from other groups that we need to be allies and fight this together. If we do this in a united way, I know we can win. The battle has just begun!
A TRIBUTE TO MARGIE M. – A HEROINE DEAD AT AGE 32 IN 1989
I have written about hundreds of topics over the past 16 years of this newsletter. Yes, this month marks 16 years of endlessly writing about topics that affect women who married gay or bi men looking at every possible story or thought that came my way—except for one.
I felt the need to write about this now because I’ve never addressed it before. But as the years go on and people still don’t get that STRAIGHT WIVES MATTER, it continues to jolt my mind in so many directions of why we feel so “minimized” in this situation.
A friend of mine recently wrote that he is so excited to be in a play about AIDS. It made me think about the whole situation of this horrific disease that created one of the darkest clouds of terror that our country faced in my adult life. It was such an ugly time of watching people behaving at their worst out of pure fear (which was understandable) and in many cases, ignorance (which is also expected whenever there is fear).
There is no way that I will minimize this horror story that gay men faced as they died painful and isolated deaths due in many cases to refusal of medical personnel to treat then due to fear of contamination. In the early days of AIDS, it was believed that the disease was airborne and you could catch it by being in the same space as someone. Those days were frightening—and I knew it first-hand from my own experience.
My son was only four years old and attending nursery school in 1986. Sadly, he was born with a rare genetic disease that caused his death at the age of 23. In his early years, he had a number of hospitalizations for treatment and surgery. I was invited to appear on the Sally Jesse Raphael show to discuss straight/gay marriages, and I accepted the invitation. I was getting hesitant to do television as my children were getting older even though we had different last names as I didn’t want them to be affected by my involvement on this issue. The show was national at that time, but it was shown at 4:00 a.m. in Philadelphia which made me think I was “safe” as far as people not seeing it in my area.
The show was scheduled to be shown about one month after the filming. A week before the showing, my son was hospitalized for an infection related to his rare disease. He was out of school for three weeks, and during that time all hell broke loose. Petitions were sent to the nursery school organized by a mother who woke up early that day and saw me on the show. She saw that my husband was gay and my son was sick, therefore he must have AIDS. Parents threatened to take their children out of school unless my son was removed. The school stood by me and refused to remove my son. Several of these women did remove their children from the school because of FEAR that I had no control of no matter how many times I told them that my ex didn’t have AIDS and my son was sick from a bacterial infection—not a viral one.
This situation made me so much more empathetic to people infected by this deadly disease because I saw how people reacted to me and my son—and this was just because someone put two and two together and it equaled seven. I couldn’t even imagine the horrible life of people infected as they were handed that death sentence.
Many movies were made about the horror of this disease focusing on the pain these men went through. However, other than Precious, a movie about a teenage girl infected via sex with her addicted father, very little has been said about the women who died from this terrible death—meaning those women who were infected by their gay husbands. No movies or tributes have been done for them—and I know I was working with seven different women who died during those years--not from sharing needles, but from sharing their husbands with gay infected men. All of these seven women were blindsided—they learned of their husbands’ homosexuality when one or the other became ill. Both of them—husband and wife--died leaving orphans behind. Going through the nightmare with these women forced me to take a step away for ten years because I couldn’t deal with the emotional pit in my stomach anymore. It was too deep.
Here I will tell the story of one of these women—Margie M. I met this lovely lady late in 1988. She had seen me on a television show locally here in Philadelphia several years before I “disappeared” from the public on television, and she found me on the Internet. I’ll never forget our first call because her tears of hysteria are still fresh in my mind when I allow them to surface.
She called me and said she saw me on a show and felt I was the only one who would understand her. I told her that I am here for those women who find out their husbands are gay and that I understand her pain. She responded to me with:
“No you don’t. You can’t possibly understand my pain.”
I replied that I had worked with over a thousand women at that point, and I really did understand. I had been there myself.
“Well, let me ask you this, Bonnie,” she said. ‘How many other women have you worked with who won’t be alive to raise their children because they have AIDS?”
I admitted none. She was my first, but sadly not my last. Margie went on to tell me that she learned of her husband’s homosexuality when she went to the doctor and tested positive for AIDS. She had started to exhibit the symptoms of AIDS shortly after her husband. He went for a test, and when he revealed the startling news to her, he told her that she needed to be tested as well. And so with heavy heart and strong fear, she took the test which came out positive.
Back then, AIDS was a death sentence. We both started crying and continued throughout the conversation. Both she and her husband were going to die and leave their three children behind. The children were then 5, 7, and 10. Both Margie and her husband had lost their parents, and the each only had one sibling who was unable to care for the children. My heart broke for her. We spoke five or six more times before her death seven months later. Her husband had died two months earlier.
I felt very helpless to provide any comfort to this heroic woman. Her husband—like many others—didn’t think about his actions and how they would affect her. In fact, over 20% of the women who come to me have some form of an STD. Thankfully, people today can live with HIV/AIDS, but it isn’t easy. Men who are out there having sex and not taking precautions and then coming home to their wives to have sex without taking precautions are at best unconscionable. That’s why I tell every woman to get checked so she can make sure that if she has an STD, it can be treated early.
Side note: I can’t help but mention the number of women who have told me that their husbands turned their anger towards them when learning about the STD claiming there was no way in the world they—the husband—could be blamed. He would start blaming the wives of all kinds of infidelity which never happened or sitting on a toilet seat to “acquire” crabs or herpes. These women walked around feeling guilty and blaming themselves—some for years. Again—UNCONSCIENABLE.
Men today have told me (gay husband men, that is) that AIDS is totally different today because it is treatable. Most people are living long lives, and with medication it can be controlled. I say, “Thanks, pal.” Justifying this with stupidity is worse than not mentioning it at all. Too many of our women have been diagnosed with every variety of STD’s. Some will carry the scars forever because they are controllable—but not removable. This really takes its toll when you are trying to start a new relationship. You really have to scour the earth looking for a man that doesn’t mind that you have HIV and says he couldn’t care less. Those kinds of guys are really like finding needles in a haystack.
Getting back to my story of Margie, let me say this. There were no movies made about her and the other number of women who died as a result of their gay husbands’ infidelity. Those women were heroes in our midst who were never acknowledged or even spoken about. I haven’t seen any movies made about them, or heard much discussion. Many of them died with no peace of mind like Margie wondering who would raise her children. They had the double blow of learning their husbands were gay and then learning they were dying because of it.
In my research, I did find that the actress Amanda Blake, best known as “Miss Kitty” on the show Gunsmoke, died from AIDS in 1989 which was a gift from her “bisexual” husband who also died from AIDS. I didn’t see any tributes or movies made about her. My point is, until women are treated with the same respect and admiration as their gay husband counterparts, we will never achieve the recognition we deserve.
Straight Wives DO Matter even if we don’t talk about it. Society continues to make heroes out of the gay men who come out late in life or pay tribute to those who died during the AIDS crisis, but there are no tributes to the Margie’s of the world. And so Margie, today I salute you and pay tribute to you and the other women who live with the infections bestowed upon them by men who just didn’t care enough to do the right thing.
HAVE A HAPPY MONTH. Spring is on its way!