“What do you do when you wake up one morning next to your beloved husband and your 3 children across the hall, and you realize for the first time – you’re no longer straight?
How do you handle that realization? How do you hold that truth without feeling like you’re keeping a ‘dirty secret?’
That was me 3 years ago.
Let me give you the back story.
My entire life I thought I was straight. I was boy crazy growing up. I daydreamed about boys, dated boys, made out with lots of boys, and dreamed of marrying one someday.
And boys were crazy about me, too. I had already been proposed to twice before I met my husband (that’s a story for another time).
When I did meet my husband, it was a perfect whirlwind of a romance.
We met in October of 2008, started dating in November, became engaged in December, and I would have married him in January if I hadn’t been so afraid of everyone freaking out over such a quick relationship. So we waited until July to officially tie the knot.
We were both school teachers and loved working at the same school together. We walked to and from school together, ate lunch together when we could, visited each other during our breaks, and sent each other Valentine Grams through our student council. We were madly in love and loved spending our days together.
We got pregnant pretty quickly (surprise!) and the next six years were a whirlwind of having three kids, changing jobs, moving homes, and finally settling into the rhythm of my husband working full time while I stayed home with our children.
We were really active in our church at the time, and it was the first church I had ever been a part of that didn’t outright condemn ‘homosexuality.’ The church wasn’t affirming, unfortunately, but they seemed to be more open to the LGBTQ community than any other church I had attended and that got me curious.
I was taught growing up that homosexuality was a sin, and I was familiar with the verses in the Bible that conservative Christians believed condemned homosexuality. But what I hadn’t heard was how LGBTQ+ Christians interpreted those verses for themselves, and I was curious to learn their point of view.
So I started reading articles, books, listening to interviews, watching videos, and even took a Queer Theology course all written and created by LGBTQ+ Christians on the topic of Scripture and homosexuality. Through this process I came to believe being queer was not condemned by Scripture, and I became a very passionate ally.
As a result, I started spending more and more time at queer events and in queer spaces, and each time I felt this magnetic pull and attraction towards some of the queer folx in the room, which kind of confused me (because I’m straight, right?).
At first, I dismissed it as me being a really loving human.
I mean, I love people. I love meeting new people. I love talking with people. I am attracted to all kinds of humans because I find humanity beautiful.
But something happened one night when I was at a queer event where it all clicked, and I thought, ‘Oh.my.god. I’m not straight!’
And there’s part of me that wishes I could say that was a celebratory realization because I LOVE my queerness now, but at that moment, I felt quite sick to my stomach.
Because what did that mean for my marriage? What did that mean for my babies? What did that mean for me?
All of a sudden, memories from my childhood and adult years came flooding back to me, and my queerness made so much sense to me.
I had my first girl crush in grade school. I found Hanson SUCH an attractive girl band until I learned they were brothers (sorry, Hanson!), and I was still equally attracted them. My biggest crushes throughout high school were on two queer guys. I had a brief crush on a girlfriend during college.
There were signs and markers all along about my queer identity. I just didn’t have the eyes to see nor the terminology to know what I was experiencing, much less the freedom to explore what I felt all those years.
And here I was, at age 32, realizing my queerness for the first time with a husband and 3 children by my side.
And I felt utterly alone.
I didn’t know anyone else in my shoes. I only knew straight couples and gay couples. Where were other couples like us? With one spouse straight and the other not?
I knew there would be painful consequences to me owning my queerness, so there was a moment where I thought maybe, just maybe, I could deny my queerness and pretend I never realized it. It would be my secret that I would take to the grave.
But I knew I couldn’t do that. I value authenticity and love too much to do that to myself. So what did I do?
I did what I know how to do, which is to be truthful and vulnerable and brave. I told my husband the truth.
We were in the kitchen one night, and I felt this prick in my heart that told me this was the moment. I paused what I was doing, took a deep breath, and asked, ‘Would you like to know something interesting about me?’ And he said, ‘Yes, babe.’
I said, ‘I’ve had this realization about myself recently… and that is… I’m not straight. I’m queer.’
He stopped washing the dishes, turned to me, and with tenderness in his eyes, he asked me to share what I meant. I filled him in on my journey, how my magnetic attraction to queer folx finally made things click, and when I finished, he said with such deep love in his gentle voice, ‘I think that’s great babe. I think that’s perfectly normal, healthy, and I fully support you.’
I broke down crying.
He walked over, pulled me close, and let me cry until I could cry no more. When I finished, he looked at me and quietly asked, ‘Did you have a good cry?’
My heart could not love this man more. He was and is the essence of love.
Over the next year my husband and I had many, many conversations and he supported me in my growth and new understanding of myself. I would come to learn that I identify as pansexual, which means I’m attracted to all kinds of humans.
A year after I came out to my husband, he shared with me that when I first came out to him, he thought it was the beginning of me telling him I was going to leave him. I was startled to hear this because he had never mentioned this. I felt bad that he had carried that concern privately for the past year, and I asked him why he didn’t tell me sooner. He shared that he wanted me to make the decisions that were best for me and he didn’t want to put any pressure on me.
There are times where I swear I can’t love my husband any more than I do, and then there are moments like these where the vastness of his love completely undoes me.
And here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Most people assume that in marriages like ours, you either get divorced so the queer spouse can find a queer partner, or you stay together and the queer spouse is fully happy being in a het-presenting marriage.
We live in the tension of those realities.
I love my husband dearly, can’t imagine my life without him, and have no intention on getting divorced. But I also yearn for the love and body and intimacy with a queer person.
Because I realized my queerness later in life and after I was married, I never got to experience intimacy with anyone other than cis-het men. There are days I yearn for the queer experiences I missed out on, for the tenderness and body of a woman to snuggle up to, and the ability to express my queer sexuality.
So I am forever stuck between the desire to fully embody and express my queer sexuality and identity, and the desire to fully honor and respect my marriage with my husband.
And this a reality most people don’t want to talk about. People prefer clear cut answers and black and white realities. My marriage and my identity can’t offer that to people.
My husband and I live in a liminal space of intersecting identities, and we choose to embrace it by taking it one day at a time without forcing unhealthy expectations on one another or putting each other into any kind of box.
We love each other deeply, we respect each other immensely, and we navigate hard and rich conversations on a regular basis. Isn’t that what life is about anyway?
After coming out to my husband in the summer of 2016, I came out publicly in 2017 in a miniseries on my YouTube channel. I did this for several reasons. I didn’t want anyone else to feel as alone as I did when I first realized my queerness. Just as I found courage and hope in other people’s coming out stories, I hoped mine would provide that for others. I wanted to push back on queerphobia by letting people know queer people exist in your life whether you realize it or not; we are your best friends, colleagues, teachers, neighbors, daughters, and fathers. (So please be the kind of friend or family member that someone can feel safe coming out to). I wanted to be known and seen and loved in my totality, not in spite of, but because of who I am. I wanted people to see how queerness and pansexuality are a gift to the world. I wanted to continue to pave the path my LGBTQ+ family paved for me long before I entered the world. I want to do that for those coming after me as well. I wanted to help make the world a safer, more beautiful and inclusive place for all of us.
And that is still my prayer. Everything I do, as a wife, mom, friend, and life coach, is to do just that: make the world a safer, more beautiful, and loving place for all.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nikole Mitchell. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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