“My name is Ali Anne. This is a story about marrying the man of my dreams, creating a family, and realizing after 9 years we weren’t going to be able to pray the gay away. I’ll be sharing about how we ultimately decided to end our marriage while continuing to maintain a sense of family, and my journey to becoming an LGBTQ ally while processing through my Christian values. But let me give you some context to my story.
Besides riding horses, playing volleyball and practicing my killer runway walk that I was sure to use some day, I had one dream growing up: Get married and have children. It was the epitome of life to me and I just knew I was going to make an amazing wife and mom. My dream started to come true in 2008 – I had just turned 20-years-old when I married my best friend, Kyle. Our first few years of marriage were the toughest, but together, we learned and grew more than I knew I even had capacity for. We were always ready for the next adventure, wherever God would lead us. Over the years, we worked in several different church ministries. Wherever we were, the two of us always made a great team. We loved creating community wherever we went. We were passionate about establishing a safe space for anyone who was looking for a tribe. We hosted weekly game nights in our home where people would pile in, and we would have hours of laughter and fun. Our marriage was admired by many and we were often told, our relationship gave them hope for their own marriage one day.
Fast forward – It was now 2013 and after 5 years of marriage we finally felt like it was time to start creating our very own family. We dreamed of our kids OFTEN, and had all 7 of their names already chosen (yes, you heard right – SEVEN!) Eva Li was the first curly-haired caramel drop that was given to us. It wasn’t long after that we got pregnant again with our sweet Simon, who we never got to actually meet, but we know we’ll see him in heaven one day. Next came our champion, Nygel, and we were so excited to finally see what our son would look like. Being parents was the highlight of our life and everything we did, we did with them in mind… LIFE WAS BUSY AND BEAUTIFUL. One day, in late 2016, Kyle and I started a conversation that brought trouble to our paradise and ultimately turned our world upside down, lit it on fire, and said, ‘Run for your life!’ I knew we were living in a mixed-orientation marriage, but we were both under the assumption we would be able to pray the gay away.
Now, let me back up. Kyle and I met in 2005 and quickly became close friends. I had grown up in a small country town, and had always been under the impression that black men were not attracted to white women, so even though I highly respected Kyle and was attracted to him, I never thought in a million years I would ever have a chance of actually being with him. One day, he had pulled me aside and told me that he ‘struggled’ with homosexuality. My response: ‘Wow, you’re going to need a really strong wife!’ You see, due to our religious upbringing, both of us had been taught in the Christian Evangelical church that being gay was a sin, and if you were same-sex attracted, you were to either live a celibate life, or, deny yourself and marry someone of the opposite sex and do your best to live a heterosexual lifestyle. Kyle always knew he wanted a family, so living a heterosexual lifestyle was the only option for him. Through our close friendship, we eventually fell in love and set our sights on marriage. We were best friends and knew we wanted to do life together.
We were 8 years into our marriage when Kyle began feeling the weight of not being true to himself as a gay man. Through our marriage, we were always 100% honest and faithful to each other. At the end of 2016, with a 2-year-old and a newborn, we began one of the scariest and toughest seasons of our life. We began to dive into researching what the Bible really had to say about the topic of homosexuality. For the next four months, our lives were consumed by research, books, blogs, and speaking to others who had been through similar journeys of mixed-orientation marriage (which wasn’t a ton). Finally, we came to the conclusion that being gay wasn’t a sin and we had a new understanding that absolutely everyone was welcome to Jesus’ table, including the LGBTQ community. With this new understanding, we then had to wrestle through the decision if we were going to stay married and continue life as we knew it, or, if we were going to liberate each other, and create a different, non-traditional family.
Here is a brief description of the day we made that big decision:
It was February 21st, 2017. Nygel was sleeping in the room next to us, and Eva Li was at a friend’s house for the day. I had scheduled Nygel’s nap specifically at certain time that day because we had a Skype counseling session with our therapist planned.
At this time, we were brainstorming ideas with our therapist about different ways that we could continue to stay married, if that’s the route we were going to choose. One of the ideas, was for Kyle to ‘come out’ as gay, publicly, while still remaining in our marriage. With this, he would be able to make new gay friends, go to LGBTQ events, and ultimately identify as a gay man, in a mixed-orientation marriage. I was hopeful. I kinda liked the idea. Kyle was apprehensive about the idea, but continued to ask questions. We processed through this idea a bit more, and then ended our session with the therapist. Kyle was sitting at the head of the bed, up against the headboard, and I moved positions to the middle of the bed, laying on my side with my hand propped under my head so we could talk through this possible scenario. It wasn’t long into the conversation that Kyle realized why he wasn’t a fan of this idea. Kyle is an ‘all or nothing’ type of person. When he commits to something, he gives his everything to it. With this new idea, it would force him to have one foot on either side of a line drawn in the sand. For him, this was setting himself up for a disaster. He was going to be allowed to be around other gay men, but couldn’t fully be a gay man. It was like putting a kid in a candy store and then telling them they can’t have any candy. Why put the kid there in the first place? Why tempt and torture him?
Looking back at my journal entry from that day, Kyle said this: ‘If I am going to be around gay men, I’m going to want to be with a man. This is not just about sex with a man, this is about loving a man and being loved by a man. – Ideally, I want to have a relationship with a man.’
That last statement really stood out to me. This is when I knew it was over. All along we had been saying that the best case scenario was us staying together – so, to hear him say this was very different.
For the very first time, Kyle actually said out loud, ‘I am a gay man and I want to be with a man.’ You would think by this time, I’d be weeping, but I was actually pretty sober, with just a few tears running down my cheeks.
This was how I replied: ‘So that’s it… that’s our answer… you need to be with a man.’ Kyle misunderstood my tone and thought I was being catty, and then I said, ‘No, I’m being serious – if the ideal situation is for you to be with a man, then that is our decision.’
Kyle broke. He put his hands over his face and began to weep, repeating, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry Ali… I love you so much. I never saw it ending like this.’ I had never seen him cry like this. My guess is that he was broken over the fact that his freedom meant breaking my heart.
Although I felt pain, I also had a ridiculous amount of peace. I had so much peace I was able to say: ‘I know you love me Kyle. I have never doubted that. I know this isn’t you choosing men over me… I am still your family. Kyle, I’m actually looking forward to seeing you be completely free (here, he began to weep harder) I wonder what new greatness is going to come out of you.’
I ended that journal entry with this:
‘God, you are good. When my marriage ends, and I have no idea what is ahead… You are still good.
When I feel alone and like my life has to start over…You are good.
When my name is slandered, when people think I was a bad wife. When people think I didn’t try hard enough. When people think we are making the biggest mistake of our lives – You are still good. When people don’t understand why I still support him… You are good.’
It has been 2 years since we made the decision to end our marriage and our lives have drastically changed in the most beautiful way possible. Through our decision to end our marriage, coming out as gay (Kyle) and becoming an LGBTQ ally (myself) we lost 95% of our friends and family. I won’t pretend there aren’t wounds we are healing from, from those we felt like abandoned us during the most difficult time in our lives, but I do know one thing; although Kyle and I don’t choose each other romantically anymore, we still have a deep love and a deep connection with one another. He is my best friend, and I am his. We are committed to our family, as non-traditional as that may look. Our precious children will grow up knowing that Mommy and Daddy love each other, and that we love them. We are committed to teaching our children that love looks like something, and that love is not exclusive.
Our story is one of unconditional love, friendship, deep pain, utter desperation, celebration, and liberation. We all get to paint our own stories… some have chosen to use broad strokes with bright vivid pigment, some with whimsical soft glows, and others with dark saturated intensity – But THIS – … this, is MY shade of beautiful.”
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