If you are having doubts about your sexuality or thinking of coming out it is important that you talk to someone. You will need support to deal with your feelings and make sure that you can cope with the way others react, particularly your close friends and family. Our links section can provide helpline numbers, advice and information on gay and lesbian support groups in your area.
The following section will help if you are leaving a marriage or children behind in your former relationship, or if your spouse is leaving you because they have come out. However you should also see our information on Divorce and Separation, Financial and other relevant sections of this website.
Ending a Marriage
Gay and Leaving
Telling a spouse that you are gay is probably one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Living in denial cannot make a happy marriage and is unfair on everyone involved. Your partner deserves to know the truth when you leave and honesty will avoid resentment later on. There will be pain caused whatever you do, or however you chose to approach the situation, just think about the goal at the end. "I am what I am". Follow these tips for breaking your news:
Make any practical arrangements in advance. Think about where you will live and contact with any children involved. Be prepared for your partner to be angry and the possibility that you may be forced to leave the house immediately.
Make sure that you and your spouse sit down calmly to discuss this. Don't blurt it out in the heat of an argument or when children are running around. Make a coffee and sit down at the kitchen table. Explain your reasons why you are leaving and repeat yourself if your partner has difficulty understanding what you are saying. They may react with disbelief or confusion at first.
Be prepared to answer any questions. You may be wise to keep the details of relationships you have been having to yourself, unless you have exposed your spouse to the risk as catching an STD or the relationship is seriousness enough that you are leaving your spouse for them. In other words be honest but cautious with the "truth".there is no reason to add insult to injury with graphic details of your sex life.
Reassure your ex that this is nothing to do with them, it is you that is finally being truthful to yourself and not them that has done anything wrong.
Take any personal belongings with you. Don't leave them behind as initial anger could lead your ex to take vengeance out of them - you don't want to find your designer clothes in the charity shop!
Leave a contact telephone number and a list of helpline numbers that they can ring if they need support.
Once you have left remember that you are still responsible for half the bills, mortgage and maintenance for any children so pay your way and work towards coming to an amicable settlement with your spouse. Do not ignore these factors because if your ex resorts to legal action you could well come out worst off.
There are many people who do break up and remain friends when one spouse has come out. It will be natural for your partner to react negatively at first and take time to get used to the idea. respect their need for space and be there when they are ready to talk.
Straight and Deserted
Finding out that your partner is gay is probably a huge shock. You may experience a range of emotions such as betrayal, confusion and disbelief. These are perfectly natural and you should give yourself time to work through these feelings and make sense of what has happened.
When you feel ready try and talk to your partner. Don't push him or her to let you know what they want, because if they knew they probably wouldn't have been living in denial in the first place. Just give it time, and let them figure out what they want for themselves.
Try to understand how much courage it took from your partner to tell you. You have to decide whether to be enemies or friends, but ask yourself honestly, do you really want to loose the friendship you had during your marriage? Many spouses who come out become very close friends with their former partner and this is a special bond that does not have to be broken.
See our section on Mending a Broken Heart and links for specialist helplines that can help you to deal with your feelings.
If there are children involved extra care should be taken. Whether you or your partner has come out, consider the following:
First you have to decide whether to come out to the children. This should be a decision taken jointly with the other parent. However, remember that children almost always sense what is going on. An honest approach and a chat might be preferable.
Teenage children may find it particularly difficult to take in and may be worried about the reaction of their friends. Understand this and if they are angry respect their need for time and space. Give them some helpline numbers so that they have people to talk to - in time they will come round.
When children are involved it is always best to stay on good terms with your ex. Make sure that children are not used in any arguments and that they maintain a close relationship with both parents. Try and keep any contact arrangements from court and settle things amicably, putting your children's welfare before your own.
If you are the spouse that has been left don't make personal judgements such as assuming that it is not good for the children to see a gay parent. The other parent is still Mum or Dad and your prejudice should not influence this - gay and lesbian parents have just as much love to offer and your children have a right to maintain a relationship with them.
If you have come out and are living with a new partner discuss how open you will be in front of the children, for example will you hold hands or cuddle? Respect your ex-spouses feelings on this as this must be a joint decision. The important thing is that you do not jeopardise contact for the sake of your right to be open; you may have to sacrifice some of your principles and be prepared to compromise.