GAY AFTER MARRIAGE: A bisexual woman figures out how to make it work…for her by Alexandra Caldwell
What do you do when you discover you’re gay after you’re already married?
I suppose a lot of spouses trip over themselves as they run to find a lawyer. I suppose others cry or yell or throw things. I suppose still more sprout feathers and thrust their heads into the sand. But not my husband. Actually, he was the one who told me that I’m bi.
No, it was I who sobbed into our bedspread until my eyes could hardly open. It was I who said “No, no, no” as my husband rubbed my back and told me everything was okay and that he still loves me. It was I who woke up the next morning and denied that night had any real meaning. And it was I for whom it took eight more months until I could finally learn to realize, then accept, then love the fact that I also love women.
But what then? I am married. I am loyal. I am … so gay.
Once again, Nick surprised me. First in the utter joy and relief he emanated when I finally realized that I like women, and then when he said, “This is an important part of who you are. You need to explore this and date women.” When I replied, “But I’m married,” he said, so what? He didn’t want me to deny a fundamental part of who I am or hold me back. And that’s when I learned the word, polyamory.
Now, I like monogamy. Never had I dreamed of dating more than one person at a time. I could never cheat on someone. Except, that’s the thing — it’s not cheating if everyone involved in the relationship knows about it and approves. Huh. Now that I could work with. That is, once I could admit that I like girls.
I don’t know where I’d be if it hadn’t been for Nick and my best friend, Kim, through my difficult transition period. I could be still in the fetal position somewhere, rocking back and forth in a dark corner of my closet. But Nick paved the way eight months prior, and then Kim helped get me to the tipping point of acceptance in October 2009. Out of the blue, she casually mentioned that she had once dated a couple. My head snapped to attention at that moment. Wait, you can DO that? I thought. That was immediately followed by, but wait…she really likes boys. A LOT. I mean, a WHOLE lot. So, was the couple two men or… No. The couple was a guy and a girl. Huh.
For days I couldn’t stop thinking about that. I began to unlock dusty doors hiding in the shadows of my mind, allowing myself to sneak inside and, for the first time, explore the mental images and concepts that hid behind them. I remembered a dream that I’d had more than a year before that left a smile on my lips for days without knowing why. I had been in the middle of a Babylon 5 marathon with my husband, and I had dreamed about kissing Ivanova, my favorite character on the show. Played by Claudia Christian, Ivanova was the hot, no-nonsense, badass, Russian lieutenant commander of the space station who exudes strength and beauty, bravery but also humanity. And there were also subtle undertones of Ivanova being bisexual, as it appeared her character had a quiet relationship with one of the other female characters in the show, Talia Winters. This seemed like a safe place to start my mental exploration — with a fictional character who has already indicated that she would be interested in women.
When I discovered that I liked that, I dared to open more doors in my head. I imagined myself with a woman. A real one this time. Not necessarily anyone I knew, but imagining that this conceptual woman existed beyond the TV screen. There was just kissing at first. Gentle, sweet kissing. Over the next few days I worked my way down her body, bit by bit, surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed each new mental exploration.
And then there was that other bit. I had never considered that someone would or could date a couple. Or someone who was part of a couple. I was dying to know more. I had to talk to Kim. Although her relationship was more just casual and fun, I was shocked that the more we talked, the more it seemed like such a normal and natural concept. Of course three (or more) people can be into each other — even love each other — and that could be a wonderful, beautiful thing. In fact, it sounded ideal. I could see how stable, warm and loving that would feel — three people in a happy, loving triad. Solid, like a triangle. Maybe I could be poly afterall. Parents can love their children uniquely and wholly without taking anything away from loving the others, so why can’t it be the same for romantic love?
Finally, in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness e-mail to Kim, I poured out everything I’d been thinking and feeling and sent her a real-time documentation of the moments when my denial melted into acceptance. “So, maybe sexuality is on a spectrum,” I rambled. “Maybe there are like the red people who are totally straight, and then there are the blue people who are totally gay, and then, well, maybe there’s this big other section. So, maybe I’m just kind of purple.”
Kim stares in shock at the cake Nick baked for Alexandra’s coming out party. Yes, I’m purple. Beautifully and wonderfully purple. I love my husband and his maleness, but I also distinctly love women. At long last, I was finally okay with being bisexual. Kim made me safe and normal and, finally, free.
My two champions and best friends threw me a coming out party. Nick even baked me a pussy cake. Yes. That’s right. A French vanilla cake with vanilla fudge frosting, pink sugar sprinkles and topped with fruit in the unmistakable arrangement of a vagina. A half a mango, raspberries, grape jelly and cocoa powder came together to create a beautiful, delicious … um, yeah. I don’t even need the photos Nick snapped to remember the look of delighted disbelief on Kim’s face when she realized what the cake depicted.
Then came the more challenging part. How in the world does one dive into the poly world? Nick and I found an amazing support network on FetLife.com, both for my bisexuality and for polyamory. It’s kind of a
Facebook for kinky people but with a great variety of topical message forums. FetLife is primarily geared towards the BDSM community, but it also attracts many LGBT, poly and other people whom mainstream America would consider “alternative.” The biggest gift it gave me was realizing that Nick and I aren’t alone. There are so many people out there who are bi and married. So many people who are poly. So many types of polyamory, even. And so many people who are accepting of us for exactly as we are.
So what do you do when you find out you’re gay after marriage? I don’t know what others do, but we take it one day at a time, walking hand in hand through our new adventures. It is definitely a learning process, and there are plenty of obstacles and challenges that cause us to stumble and bruise. But when it comes down to it, Nick and I are best friends. We are wonderful together. We make a great team, and we can’t imagine our lives without one another. We also know that I need a woman in my life, so we are working on fulfilling that need. We haven’t found the right woman yet or even what kind of situation would work best for us, but with good communication and trial and error, I know we’ll figure it out. We’re in this together.
And there is no limit on love.
Meet, vet, celebrate with other bi-polys at the Harbin Hot Springs California Polyamory Conference July 13 -15
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