3×14 Coming Out AFTER Having Kids
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Coming out after being married to a woman and having kids takes a certain bravery and strength. In this Season Finale we bring you two fascinating and new stories of men who tried to force themselves to live a straight life and eventually came to terms with who they really are.
Kade Bartlett comes from a small, extremely religious town in north Oregon, and for years suffered from homophobia, both self-homophobia and from his community. He tried for years to ‘pray the gay away’ for years before finally coming out of the closet. “I had somebody who was very close to me, almost like a mother, she was very religious,” he recalls. “I came to talk to her with things like ‘my marriage is on the rocks’ and she said ‘you gotta lean into God more,’ ‘you gotta pray more’.”
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“When it finally came down to it and she said it was a choice, I kinda lost it,” Kade said. “I said, ‘who in the hell in their right mind would choose this shit?! With all the baggage and the crap and the threats, even the murders that happens, who would choose this? Why would anybody want to choose that?!’”
For Josh, who lives in Canada, the religious environment and various conversion therapies he went through (including medication to decrease his libido) caused serious trauma.
“I volunteered myself for different therapies that were focused on dealing with what I labeled at the time ‘dealing with unwanted homosexual attraction’,” Josh says. “Conversion Therapy is kind of an umbrella term for a bunch of different therapies that proport to modify your sexuality, and I started in my very early 20s, maybe when I was 20 years old, and that was also a fucked up community because the first therapist I ever saw, he actually came on to me in session, and he was the one saying that these are bad feelings. I had to put a stop to that therapist.
“And then I found an online group called Setting Captives Free, and I was engaging with a different online therapists, or so they call themselves, I highly doubt that they’re actually therapists. They would tell me basically, if you ever act on these feelings you’re on the road to becoming a pedophile. And so that’s what I was convinced would happen, I never had any attraction towards that population whatsoever, but I was terrified that that would eventually happen, so further came the need to suppress who I am.”
The Wife’s Reaction
The difference between Kade’s and Josh’s stories is the reaction of their ex-wives. Even though Josh’s wife was extremely supportive and they have became friends, the scars from living life in the closet are not going away easily.
“I’m debating going into trauma therapy,” he says, “because I felt immense shame over who I was, that really defined a large part of my relationship with my ex-spouse, because every decision that had major consequence in our lives, from my perspective, I was always going to relent because who I was, was a bad person and who I was, was illegitimate.”
Not only are these men’s stories dramatic and inspiring, they each share important lessons as they now reform their lives as gay men raising kids, co-parenting with their ex-wives.
“At the beginning I was so upset about the reputation of the man I had heard [my ex-wife] was dating that when I got my kids I would sit there and ask them a ton of questions about what was going on at mom’s house,” Kade says, “— don’t do that! I mean, Unless there’s an absolute threat to their wellbeing and to their lives, you need to butt out.”
“Remember that if you were equally able to care for and love those children when you were together you need to understand that the other parent can do the same without you. You’re not spending time with your kids, you’re spending time worrying what she’s doing,” he adds.
“It’s not shameful and it’s not wrong [being gay] and it’s not just about lust and sex like the Christian community makes you believe it is,” Josh says.
“It’s about life and living and being who you are and at least giving you an opportunity to find real love. If you are denying your sexuality, you really aren’t loving and you don’t know what the experience is like. It’s mindblowing and lifechanging, both loving yourself and who you are, and then having the chance to be in love with someone is worth every consequence.”
Kade Bartlett, 31, runs Turnapage Farm, a small scale co-op farm, built and ran with the many helping hands of like minded small scale farmers in the valley of Northeast Oregon. He was married to a woman for 6 years and have three kids ages 10, 8 and 3. He’s lives in Oregon with his fiance Daniel.
Joshua Pedersen is a 31 year-old Marketing Manager from Alberta, Canada. He co-parents with his ex-spouse a two year-old and a 3-month old. Following years of conversion therapy attempts, Josh came out as gay when his spouse found out they were pregnant with their second child. Follow him on Instagram at @joshped
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Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guests: Kade Bartlett, Joshua Pedersen
Opening Theme: Hercules & Love Affair, “Leonora” buy here
Articles Related to this episode:
Phillip Schofield comes out as gay – ‘I have been coming to terms with it’ (Sunita Patel-Carstairs, Sky News)
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As a gay dad who lives just down the road from Josh, his story is such a dichotomy from what we live. Many people don’t understand that these kinds of religious communities really do exist right alongside us in our generally open Canadian society. One of the criticisms of conversion therapy bans being enacted in our towns and cities is that no such thing happens anymore in Canada. It does, and those subjected to it are already the most isolated and insulated from broader society by their faith communities.
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