Since starting this blog in 2008, I’ve received many notes of gratitude from straight spouses who had previously felt isolated, lacking connection with others who understood their predicament.  Until recently, little serious literature was available for mixed-orientation couples.  Now two new resources offer credible research and insight into the particular challenges of these families.

    Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis, has published both a long-awaited book on the subject and a special issue of their Journal of GLBT Family Studies (Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2012).  Both are excellent resources for mixed-orientation couples and their families.  I was privileged to contribute the sections on straight spouse issues in both of these new publications.

    The Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy is the first book of its kind, aimed primarily at professional counselors and therapists who work with this population.  It emphasizes best practices and lists useful references to suggest further reading on related subjects.  My contribution to the book, Chapter 17, reviews clinical issues, stages of recovery, counseling options, and characteristics of effective therapy specifically for straight spouses. 

    The publisher notes, “Because of the breadth of the book, its specificity, and the expertise of the contributing authors and editors, it is the definitive handbook on LGBT couple and family therapy.” To learn more about this groundbreaking book, go to: 

    The special issue of the journal is called Mixed-Orientation Marriages: Challenges of Individual Spouses and GLB-Straight Couples in Diverse Contexts.  My article is “Unintended Consequences: Unique Issues of Female Straight Spouses.”  It is specific to these women who are often marginalized and misunderstood—the “collateral damage” when a gay husband comes out.  The article can be found at

    Both of my contributions to these new resources are based on direct interviews and correspondence with hundreds of straight spouses over a 15-year period. They explore common elements of their experience, including immediate personal challenges, recurring risks, and long-term obstacles.  They are meant to provide deeper understanding of the unique challenges of straight spouses.     

    It is important to note that one particular advocate is largely responsible for pushing these two significant scholarly projects to completion.  Dr. Jerry J. Bigner initiated serious studies of gay-straight issues in his role as a professor at Colorado State University and he continued exceptional leadership in LGBT scholarship even after his retirement from teaching.  He edited both the Journal of GLBT Family Studies and the Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy.  Through his whole career, he mentored writers on these subjects, myself included. 

    Jerry’s sudden untimely death was the only thing that could stop his passion for teaching about the realities of families with gay members.  The handbook for counselors was his last project and he died during the final revisions of the manuscript.  The finished book is dedicated to him.  The dedication ends, “This book is one more addition to his legacy.  May it serve as one of many tributes to his life and all he stood for.  Heaven is where all humans are equally accepted and valued.” Jerry was my good friend, sorely missed, but his work will continue to spread hope among people he understood so well. 

Here's to good reading!




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