“I’m Gay”: Telling My Husband and Children

Coming Out Was Both the Beginning and the End of a Journey

Mary Wise (she/her)
Human Parts
Published in
20 min readFeb 9, 2024

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

I spent over two decades married to the same man. We have two kids, two cats; we’ve even had two dogs in the time we’ve been together. But three years ago, at the ripe middle-age of 44, I told him and our two children that I’m gay and I want a divorce.

At the very start of our relationship, back when we were both 21 and still wrapped in our college-life delusions about being adults, I told him that I was bisexual. He was fine with it, thought it was a hot accessory for our fantasy life, provided I didn’t act on it of course. I was fine with that because being bisexual does not mean you’re automatically polyamorous and must have both male and female partners in your sex life. It just means you have lot more options for who you might fall in love with.

But there was one glitch, a major one, that only time and a lot of inner-work made clear — I’m not bisexual; I’m a lesbian and I don’t ever want to be with a man again.

Wait… was this really real? Was I really doing this? How could I do this?

I was 44 years old and now, I’m suddenly a lesbian? The implications of this, the layers of this, twisted me up in more ways than I can even verbalize three years later. But here’s what I can tell you…

It wasn’t sudden at all.

We first see ourselves in our parents’ eyes. When we’re brand new to this world and have no idea what anything is, our parents’ behaviors, responses, attention and inattention to anyone or anything, give us the blueprint for living. We learn how the world works… who we are, who to trust, if we can trust ourselves and our own perceptions, and we learn how it all fits together, how we fit in to this grand, complex, alien world.

And as we grow up, we continue this process, putting the puzzle pieces together and making sense of it all. We do this by looking for familiar pieces of ourselves and our experiences in books, films, magazines, family, and friends. We fall and we learn from others if we should brush it off or cry; We learn who and what will keep us safe; and when we have a feeling, although we may have instincts attached to them, we ultimately look to the world…

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Mary Wise (she/her)
Human Parts

Poetry and personal stories of past lives and paths forward. Writer, editor, teacher, photographer, behavioral health expert. I live in PA with my two children.