Beyond Ex-Gay

When Your Partner is an Ex-Gay Survivor

by Jayne 

Loving Rachel is not hard to do at all.  She is the most beautiful and generous person I have ever known and I believe that our paths have brought us to this moment in time for a reason.  In my opinion, that reason is to help her face the anguish and pain from her ex-gay experience and move forward as a healthy lesbian woman who can still have a close and loving relationship with God as well as nurture our connection to one another as two women.Image of railroad tracks in a desert-like area

Our past paths have been at complete opposite ends of the spectrum and raise many difficult questions for both of us, not only in our upbringing, but in our religion as well.  I was raised Catholic and had never encountered negativity with regard to my sexuality.  At the age of 17, I had a talk with the priest at my parish about the thought that I may be gay and his response was a very helpful and powerful one.  I was lucky enough to have a supportive family who accepted me and helped me to see how “normal” my life was no matter who I loved.   I feel so blessed to have had such a pleasant experience and I want to be able to share that same feeling with Rachel and reassure her of my unconditional love.  

Her ex-gay experience has caused some difficult struggles for me and added some incredibly tough stress on our relationship.  Some days are better than others, but the main struggle I have is how to be a supportive partner for her as I listen to her experiences, of which I have an immediate physical reaction to, but don’t voice that reaction because I don’t want her to feel judged or misunderstood.  She has been through a very tough ordeal with the program she attended and continues to struggle with “right” or “wrong.”   How do I give her the space she needs as well as prove to her that I’m committed to her and am not going to abandon her? 

image of a rope bridge

Sometimes I feel as though I’m trying to prove myself to her over and over again, when all I really want to do is love and protect her.  This leaves me feeling very much in limbo.  I want to continue to feel close to God and share my love for Him with her, but as of the present time, I feel like any mention of Him makes her retreat into a fearful position.  I dread that one day she is going to have such guilt about her feelings of love towards me that she will find it impossible to continue on with our relationship.  The bottom line being, I don’t want to lose her and she doesn’t want to lose me.  I believe she can heal from the pain and shame that has been in her for so long, but I also feel she can relish in the good aspects of her experience.  I don’t want to have similar feelings of guilt by continuing to love her when I know it pulls her further away from God. 

The struggle is overwhelming, but I truly have faith that my actions and reactions can’t be wrong if they are coming from the pure love that I have for her in my heart and that gives me some sense of comfort.

Two hands locked

I am seeing a wonderful therapist who is helping me to listen and speak from a place of compassion when it comes to her delicate history.  I’m very

proud of Rachel as well for actively seeking counseling from a therapist who specializes in ex-gay survivors and for wanting to see the “other side” of this coin with regards to healthy and contributing gay people of faith.   I continue to pray everyday for her that she finds the peace in her heart that she so longs for and completely deserves.  I have to believe that with a little understanding, a lot of faith and an enormous amount of love, we can walk this path together and come out stronger than ever on the other side.  After all, what is love without hope?

~Jayne, a 30 year old lesbian living in the mid-west.

If you are the partner of an ex-gay survivor and would like to share your story, insights or questions, please contact us.