May 06

When Your Straight Spouse Is Not: Some Resources

In the new Netflix series Grace and Frankie each titular character (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) finds out her straight spouse is not. (See my previous post.)

When your straight spouse is not in real life, there are currently a number of reliable and helpful resources for you—for one, the Straight Spouse Network (tagline “Discovering Your Spouse Isn’t Straight. Real Support At An Unreal Time”). Founded by Amity Pierce Buxton, who years ago experienced this type of issue firsthand, SSN has lots to offer on its website.

One of several videos available on the site is this “It Gets Better” version:

Another resource is PFLAG, an organization whose articleOpening the Straight Spouse’s ClosetA Guide for Understanding Issues Facing Families with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Or Transgender Spouses” is available online. In addition, several other supportive resources are listed on their site.

Selected Reading: When Your Partner is Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual

Amity Pierce BuxtonUnseen-Unheard: Straight Spouses from Trauma to Transformation (2013)

Heather Cram, You’re What?! Survival Strategies for Straight Spouses (2008)

Carol Grever, My Husband Is Gay: A Woman’s Survival Guide (2001)

Carol Grever and Deborah Bowman, When Your Spouse Comes Out: A Straight Mate’s Recovery Manual (2008)

Update, 2023:

American Psychological Association, “Helping the Straight Spouse When a Wife or Husband Comes Out as LGB or T

Selected Reading: When Your Partner is Transgender

Jennifer Finney Boylan, She’s Not There (updated 2013 version); and Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders (2013)memoirs by a trans woman

Leslie Hilburn Fabian, My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love (2014)

Spouses, Parents, and Other Family Members Share Overlapping Needs,” on site She Was the Man of My Dreams

See also: American Psychological Association, “Helping the Straight Spouse When a Wife or Husband Comes Out as LGB or T

Another Video

This one was created by Carol Grever (see her books above) and is called “One Gay, One Straight: Complicated Marriages”:

May 04

“Grace and Frankie”: Husbands Emerge From the Closet

New Netflix fictional series Grace and Frankie answers the question, What happens to a spouse’s life when her straight—she thinks—husband is not? To complicate matters, he’s already been having an affair with another man—and now they want to get married.

So far, we have an unfortunate but not uncommon kind of scenario—the closeted spouse, the affair(s) before the secret is discovered or disclosed. Add in the fact that in Grace and Frankie the affair has been going on for 20 years.

Starring in Grace and Frankie are Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular characters and Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston as the husbands. It premieres as a streamer later this week, on May 8th.

The trailer is designed to represent five stages of change: 1. Shock, 2. Denial, 3. Confusion, 4. Rage, and 5. Reflection:


Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire, sees the pilot episode as “painting Fonda and Tomlin pretty bluntly into their stereotypical boxes: Fonda as the tight-laced Type A perfectionist with a fondness for vodka and Tomlin as an easy-going hippie type who freely experiments with substances of all kinds. It’s a classic odd couple pairing that gets leaned on a little hard for its comedy potential.”

John Koblin, New York Times: “Ms. Fonda’s Grace is an uptight 70-year-old former beauty product executive who has rocky relationships with nearly everyone in her life. Ms. Tomlin’s character is a free-spirited hippie who offers painting lessons to ex-cons and dabbles in peyote and pot.”

Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal: “As the title tells, they’re the story here—two women who cordially detest everything about one another’s habits, views, values, working their way toward an alliance. Grace, who once ran a beauty products company and who would rather die of pain wearing killer heels than spoil the look of an outfit, now lives with someone whose clothes reek of pot, and who fills the house with weird chanting and, occasionally, with those ex-convicts. Frankie, immovable, is full of her own lofty contempt.”


Brian Lowry, Variety:: “…(T)he men offer some quieter moments, ranging from giddiness over being honest about their long-deferred affection to weariness dealing with the fallout. ‘I’m never not going to be coming out, am I?’ Robert says in a later episode of the six previewed.”

“The kids, however, barely register, and there’s too much time spent on Frankie and Sol’s son Coyote (Ethan Embry), a recovering junkie.”