Why I Stayed In The Closet For 13 Years Of Marriage

By Rick Clemons for YourTango.com.

Yes, I hid in the closet through 13 years of marriage. I brought two young girls into the world only to turn their universe upside-down and inside-out by putting them through divorce and admitting I’m gay.

Go ahead. Sling the mud, call me a jerk and tell me this article is trash. Feel better? Good, because that’s all about you, not me. And yes, when I came out of the closet, it did save my daughters lives.

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It didn’t save them from broken hearts; it didn’t save them from shuffling between two households; it didn’t save them from having to answer awkward questions. However, I believe based on my experience and feedback from my daughters, that my decision to come out did all of the following: banished all possibilities of them growing up with a narrow-minded perspective of life; rescued them from a false sense of self, based on “living to please others”; taught them the power of “love is love”; validated that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow; and mirrored for them that trusting yourself to be yourself takes courage but is also a gift that only you can give yourself.

Of course, at 5 years and 18 months old, they didn’t spout these feelings from their innocent mouths. It’s taken years of holding them, continuing to keep the focus on their growth, development and well being and daily talking to them and making sure they know they are loved.

Without staying that course and maintaining that focus, I would be just another “low-life, divorced parent, who decided to live for himself, saying screw everyone else.” How do I know that? Because I’ve have those accusations flung at me almost as many times as the Kardashians have been called names.

In those embittered moments where those who must judge judged me, I turned to the text book lessons of my life and stumbled through, knowing that no matter what we would thrive — my daughters, my ex-wife and I — knowing those who yielded the swords of judgment were also those who lacked the aptitude to know what was best for my daughters, my ex-wife or myself.

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It’s a human condition to claim to understand what’s best for someone else. Yet, unless you’re asked to intervene, it might be best to steer clear. In the midst of these catastrophic life transitions — divorce, job loss, death, coming out — no one understands better what’s needed, desired and necessary to heal than the individuals caught in the vortex of the tornado.

Well-intentioned and genuine gestures of concern will abound in numerous forms when an assault on the human condition is breeched — like divorce or coming out. Everyone within a calling circle or the touch of send button will have an opinion. Yet, no one truly had the right to tell my daughters or my ex-wife how to respond to me when I told them I was gay, nor how I should move forward into my “gay self.”

I own my decision and have done the work to move into, through and past the guilt and shame. I also own that it is my purpose as a parent to be the best I can be for my children in the best way I know how, each and every moment of my life. That’s all we can do and that is all that should be expected of us as perfectly imperfect human beings.

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Whether you agree with what I’ve done or what I brought into my children’s lives has no bearing on this post I am sharing. I share this because to assume that my coming out and my divorce ruined my daughters’ lives would be just that … an assumption. Instead, I invite you to look at how not living your own truth — whatever that is — may be affecting those around you.

Now 18 and 13, my daughters are strong, independent, curious and accepting young ladies with a point of view that evokes the mantra, “Life is what you make of it.” As a father, I couldn’t be prouder … and that has nothing to do with my gay pride.

Are you struggling? Wondering what might happen if you admit your truth about your sexuality or about wanting to move forward from a “not so right relationship?” I would love to chat with you and provide you with a complimentary coaching consultation. No obligation, just a simple chat to see how this might work for you.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: I Hid In The Closet For 13 Years Of Marriage.

Written by Rick Clemons for YourTango.com.


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

perhaps he didn't know for certain he was gay, perhaps he thought it was just a curiosity and perhaps he genuinely loved his wife. One can love one person but not be IN LOVE with them. That has happened to me, where the other person has these expectations and dreams and you want to be that for them and think you can be what they need, but you realize later on that you are miserable trying to fill a role. I get it, sorry so many commenters do not. props for being able to show who you are and be honest before waiting even longer and causing even more pain

Cyrille D.
Cyrille D4 years ago

I completely agree with what Alexandra B. said below. I feel the author of this article spends his time throwing the stones he received right back at people, using the usual "Don't judge without knowing" argument yet not bringing any pertinent piece of information as to WHY he decided to go as far as marrying a woman, staying with her for 13 years and bringing two daughters into the world in the meantime. There is nothing wrong with being gay, but there is certainly something VERY wrong about misleading someone you're supposed to love in such a way, for so long, with the consequences we know. I'm sorry society is the way it is, but it doesn't justify this. At all.

Amy R.
Past Member 4 years ago

wasting other people's time

Koty Lapid
Koty Lapid4 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago


Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon4 years ago

A commenter asks why someone who is gay would marry a woman, have children, and stay "in the closet" for 13 years. I think the answer is in the question...because of the climate of the country toward homosexuality, because in an era when adoption by gay male couples was still a real fight for acceptance a man who wanted children would often feel forced into this situation, and because having made that choice a man might well invest his energy and commitment to it.

It can be hoped that as minds and hearts continue to be opened, and as full legal marriage becomes available to any consenting adults who wish to enter into it, situations like this one will become less and less common.

Let's all be glad that this man found the strength to his honest self, and that his daughters grew up advantaged by his example.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago


Lisa Zilli
Lisa Zilli4 years ago