Contributed | Blaire Ostler:
One of my FB pals reached out and asked me, “I see you and your marriage with your husband and think how great it must be to be that open about your ‘queer-ness’. My question is, how did you start that conversation? How would someone tell their spouse they want to continue being married, but they are queer?”
I first want to clarify I don’t feel qualified to offer anyone relationship advice. I’m not a relationship expert by any means. All I can do is share my experience of what worked and didn’t work for me and Drew. This may or may not be consistent with another’s experience.
One of the things I like most about being bisexual is how it’s affected my marriage. There have certainly been ups and downs in the process, but overall I would say being bi has been beneficial to our relationship and helped open the doors of intimacy.
Drew and I started off on a slightly different foot than most Mormon couples. Though we were young, I was 19 and he was 23, we began our relationship addressing taboo topics almost out of necessity. In the first year of our marriage I told him I was attracted to other women. It was quite casual. A beautiful woman walked by and we both commented on how attractive she was. It wasn’t anything gross or objectifying, it was almost matter of fact. If I could go back in time I’d be inclined to thank that beautiful woman because her presence instigated the process of my “coming out” to my husband. When you start your marriage off with both members talking about their attraction to other women, the relationship dives into aspects of vulnerability and intimacy quite quickly.
For years, me being attracted to other women wasn’t a big deal for either of us. It was just there—something we both knew but didn’t feel the need to talk about. There was no shame or celebration. It simply was. That is until Prop 8 happened.
The depth and intimacy Drew and I experience in our marriage did not come without conscious effort. Prop 8 was one of the lows of our marriage, at least for me. We had been married for about six years, been sealed in the temple, held callings, and were very much invested in the Church. Yet, we disagreed when it came to Prop 8. Drew’s position on Prop 8 was rooted in his loyalty to the Church. The Church took a position, so he took that position. However, I did not share the Church’s position, and Drew made it clear with an Elder Oaks address he gave me to read that my position was the wrong one.
It eventually reached a point where we could no longer discuss homosexuality with one another. We both knew our marriage wouldn’t survive it. Accepting me as bisexual—as “one of them”—was out of the question. That discussion would have to wait a few years.
Years went by with little conversation about homosexuality. It came up here and there. We casually discussed it from time to time, but we stopped aggressively trying to convert each other. Forcibly trying to change the other person only led to more heartache. Instead, we focused on loving each other.
Somewhere along the way, something changed. I don’t know exactly why or how it happened. You’d have to ask Drew for the details, which I’m sure are many, but slowly over the years something gradually changed.
More time passed. It was an average day of housework until my phone rang. I picked up, “Hey, honey. How’s work going? I was just thinking about you.”
Drew spoke slowly and quietly, “Blaire, do you realize you’re bisexual?”
I awkwardly agreed, “Yes. I know I’m bisexual.”
He continued, “Yes, but YOU are bisexual.”
I laughed. It was as if every conversation we had over the last decade merged into a single moment of clarity for him. I didn’t know how to respond. I had been bisexual our entire marriage, but hearing him accept the label somehow made it real. I was now free to be me.
Smiling, I said the only thing I could say, “I know I’m bisexual. What took you so long?”
Drew answered with such sincerity, “I couldn’t . . . I didn’t . . . I’m sorry. You’re a beautiful, wonderful, bisexual woman, and there’s nothing wrong with you. I love you.”
I smiled and replied, “I’ve waited a long time to hear you say that.”
He continued with remorse in his tone, “Why did you stay married to me? All the things I’ve said to you. After all these years, why?”
I paused, holding back the tears, “Loving you seemed more important than agreeing with you.”
After that conversation things between Drew and me were different. The acceptance and intimacy I wanted in our marriage eventually came in ways I had never imagined. However, it didn’t come without effort from both of us.
To answer the original question, “How would someone tell their spouse they want to continue being married, but they are queer?” Well, if you’re anything like us, you won’t just tell them once. You’ll tell them many times, in many ways, over many years, until someday they believe you. I can’t say what is right for all couples, but I will say the effort was worth it for us.
Our marriage isn’t perfect. I won’t pretend it is. Every now and then the question comes up, ‘should we stay together or split?’ And every time that question came we decided we want to stay together. We didn’t just decide it the day we were sealed. We decided it many subsequent days after that. We want to be there for the awful, ugly, joyful, beautiful, and queer moments which create our story.