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The LGBTQ+ Chump Perspective

Dear Chump Lady,

Your blog and book have been real lifesavers for me, and they’ve helped me both frame my own experience and describe it to others. I certainly have seen several other LGBTQ+ people who routinely comment on your posts and participate in the related discussion forums elsewhere. I, for one, appreciate that your perspective is universal, and very welcoming of us rainbow chumps. Since June is Pride month, and we’re not able to gather in our communities the way we normally would, I wondered whether you would dedicate a post to some of the unique elements of our experience of chumpdom. I know it’s not the Pain Olympics, but you’ve focused in the past on the shared experiences of straight male chumps, for instance.

I can offer just a few thoughts to get you started. One of the biggest issues for me has been that our community and its allies have worked so hard in recent years to gain legal recognition of same-sex marriage and certain trans recognitions in the U.S. and other places – and many of those legal rights still feel uncertain. While mainstream attitudes certainly have shifted, many of us still fear having open conversations with new acquaintances about our families and identities. So I felt extremely isolated after having been chumped twice by my outwardly justice-loving partner. As though it weren’t enough for the world often to be a hostile place, suddenly my hard-won legal marriage was riddled with booby traps. (And I was the boob.) Talk about feeling unsafe! And the hypocrisy is strong with those who would fight for justice for themselves and others out in the world, but emotionally abuse their own partners with impunity back at home.

The consequences also suck in a slightly different way for kids of rainbow marriage, I think. While all children will likely suffer some effects of divorce — it’s considered an Adverse Childhood Event (ACE) for a reason, regardless of whether infidelity was the cause — I’m sorry to say I see my kids struggling with an additional layer: they have grown up in schools where they were no other families like ours, and one way they have coped was to internalize and promulgate the “Love Makes a Family” narrative. While I think that message can be helpful in certain contexts, it can be double-edged when love gets shredded, and the family blows up. Also, I realize that a lot of us chumps were invested in projecting the Perfect Family narrative regardless of our gender or orientation. But I bet that chumps who married outside of their race, ethnicity, or religion might be able to identify with the feeling that your marriage/family needs to be Extra Perfect in order to be accepted by extended family, old friends, and people in other communities to which you belong. Of course, ultimately nobody’s any more perfect than anybody else: we’re all still just as likely to be chumped.

Finally, I will just note that in my experience, LGBTQ+ people are more likely than the general mainstream population (at least in the U.S.) to know polyamorous people, and to question sexual norms and conventions. Of course, real polyamory involves extensive self-knowledge, emotional maturity, and rock-hard boundaries. But I can now see that polyamory offers yet another mirage for disordered people in our community, and another opportunity for manipulation and blameshifting. After my D-Day #2 (14 years after the first one), my ex tried to get me to accept their affair as a poly thing, and when I wouldn’t, they called me “rigid” and “judgey,” especially after they tried to claim that they were poly as a matter of innate orientation. Fortunately, I saw through that particular mindfuck, but I realize that a lot of younger rainbow chumps might be very confused when presented with polyamory as an excuse for cheating. I feel like I’m channeling you, Chump Lady, when I share what I’ve learned the hard way: we need to advocate for ourselves by getting very clear, with ourselves and our partners, about what is and isn’t okay with us, and voice any discomfort as soon as we experience it. There are many flavors of desire and partnership out there, and not all of them will be right for us as individuals. (I don’t have a problem with alternatives to monogamy, as long as they’re negotiated up front and without any lopsided power dynamics or bullying by people who consider themselves more “liberated.”)

The good news is that LGBTQ+ people are generally pretty experienced with advocating for ourselves. Thanks again for listening and for being an ally — to rainbow people, and to all chumps! — and I will be interested in reading your thoughts. Thanks, and Happy Pride!

Signed,

A Rainbow Chump

Dear Rainbow Chump,

On this historic week for LGBTQ+ rights, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that LGBTQ+ people have federal protections against discrimination in the workplace I’m thrilled to be able to run your letter and welcome you to the equal opportunity suckfest of chumpdom.

That’s the thing about being fully human. Some of us can be real assholes. I mean, of course there are LGBTQ+ cheaters, just as there are LGBTQ+ chumps. And insurance underwriters. And dentists. And maybe someday (a girl can dream) even Supreme Court justices. Could we please replace Brett Kavanaugh with RuPaul?

I’m sorry that being gay and chumped comes with an additional buffet of shit sandwiches, foremost among them having to be a Credit to Your Orientation. Or whatever you want to call that particular mindfuck. Many of us have felt the pressure of Failure Is Not an Option, and have clung to the RIC, thinking we could fix the impossible. Having an extra layer of societal expectation to be perfect must be awful. Like if you fail, they’ll snatch all your rights away.

I’m sorry Lesbian Couple, you may not adopt children, because Bob Haversham and Kip Kipperson of Boise have broken up. The experiment is OVER. Hand in your civil rights immediately!

After my D-Day #2 (14 years after the first one), my ex tried to get me to accept their affair as a poly thing, and when I wouldn’t, they called me “rigid” and “judgey,” especially after they tried to claim that they were poly as a matter of innate orientation.

Oh hey, join the Rigid and Judgey Rainbow Nation. We’re all huddled here under our Controlling flag.

Geez, what’s with the great poly realization after sworn monogamy? I wonder why more things in our ostensibly committed relationships aren’t poly. Kids have orthodontist bills — where’s the innate poly-ness? Why aren’t 14 different fuckbuddies paying your student loans or driving your mother-in-law to her chemo appointments? Why is your paycheck monogamous but your bedroom isn’t? It’s just the darnedest thing.

There are many flavors of desire and partnership out there, and not all of them will be right for us as individuals. (I don’t have a problem with alternatives to monogamy, as long as they’re negotiated up front and without any lopsided power dynamics or bullying by people who consider themselves more “liberated.”)

No one should be in a monogamous relationship that doesn’t want to be in one. I think the problem is not “innate polyness” but the desire to have all the benefits of one partner’s singular focus and investment, without making the same investment yourself. Cheating is always about rigging the game.

But speaking about that singular focus and investment — I believe in committed love. I believe in love stories like Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer. The comfort of decades of shared life. Of the sacrifice of caregiving. The kind of love that fights all the way to the Supreme Court to be recognized. (Talk about being a credit to your orientation…)

LGBTQ+ people are fully human. And if humanity includes the worst impulses — deceit, blameshifting, nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land — it also means being capable of the best qualities too.

There are many kinds of relationships. You deserve to be with your equal — someone who loves as magnificently as you love.

Happy Pride Month. Thanks for sharing.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Yes, we are all fully human and fully capable of shittiness or beauty…may we all seek the good.

    I am an evolving former conservative evangelical now left wing Catholic well on my way to “bleeding heart liberal” who is so damn sick of hearing heteros claim that LGBTQ+ people are “ruining marriage” when I think we have done a rather thorough job of ruining it ourselves. Just the Jesus cheater stories we hear here are enough to prove it. May all of us committed to honest relationships redeem the institution for everyone.

    • Yes, I loved all the hand-wringing this week from people upset that the sky was falling because two conservative judges upheld civil rights for everyone.

    • Unicornomore,
      I see the anti-gay-marriage stuff as just another scapegoat for the fact that marriage, in general, is hard and can be pretty dysfunctional. But nobody wants to admit it, and very few people have the tools to see reality clearly or to cope with it. Like how CL points out that non-chumps think that chumps must have done something wrong to cause their partners to cheat. Scapegoat: “since the rest of us haven’t driven our spouses to cheat, we don’t have to worry about our own marriages”! Likewise, “our straight marriage may suck. But at least we’re not gay-married!”

      And then there’s the way that LGBTQ+ issues get weaponized as wedges in the culture wars by people trying to work their abusive manipulations on a national scale. But that’s a much bigger can of worms!

  • So true like CL said, if you don’t want to be in a monogamous relationship than be honest about it right away. Why do cheaters think it’s ok to change this and even sometimes play “the victim”. I was do cruel to expect my ex to be responsible and hone! I love this article I have friends in the LGBTQ who want to share life with someone in marriage etc. Being chumped sucks. It’s sooooo painful/shocking etc and if you have kids it gets so complicated moving forward (at least it is for me). Please know you are not alone and supported.

    • >>Why do cheaters think it’s ok to change this(monogamous agreement) and even sometimes play “the victim”.

      Good question. I think they mouth any lie that lets them get away with it. Totally heartless betrayal to the chump.

  • The pain of betrayal does not discriminate on sexual preference and neither do we.
    Welcome to CN, Rainbow Chump. We’ve got your back.

    • Thank you CL and Chump King for your truth.
      The Chump Nation that CL created welcomes every flavor and stripe – and orientation – of chumps with open arms.
      CL’s wisdom and snark provide comfort for all.
      And helps educate others who may have previously not understood others as well as they do now.
      Yes, we have your back and your heart.

      PS – “The comfort of decades of shared life” put the tug at my heart as I get older into words for me. That is what I resent.

      • Never post before coffee! My apologies for the grammar mistakes.
        My heart is better than my head 💖

      • Rebecca – I hear you on “the comfort of decades of shared life.” I thought that’s what I/we were working toward. It’s still a lovely concept, and I will keep fighting for the right of others to experience it. But for myself: I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch “A Secret Love” on Netflix, because it’s just too painful. Back in the day, my ex and I attended the wedding reception of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, just a few weeks after my D-Day #1 (back when my ex was so VERY sorry and willing to do all the therapy, make all the new agreements, etc.). I couldn’t really feel all the love there because I was in so much pain. But, I’m looking forward to kicking off my shoes and dancing at more rainbow receptions in my fuckwit-free future! And who knows, it’s not too late to find another partner for the last few decades (eventually, not anytime soon).

        • Rainbow…

          It’s just the worst feeling to be the lone mourner at a happy celebration. Been there. The thought still makes me shudder.

          I’m also an activist and went through a time when I was terrified to find smoking rubble in my heart where “passion for a cause” used to be. Getting that passion back was salvation.

          I hope your shoes come off soon, that you’re dancing in celebration before you know it (particularly for milestones won), and the love you find keeps you dancing through the next century. Xoxo

        • dear A rainbow Chump,

          after D-Day, my Ex and I went to the opera (a birthday present for me, he said). we were watching “La boheme”. I cried during Act 1, because watching a relationship on the stage unfold reminded me of how happy I was when my relationship first unfolded. It felt somehow cruel to remember my innocent self, and how I was so chumped.

          Have heart, writing this post has given me an idea, that I may watch “La boheme” again this weekend on my laptop. the tears eventually stop

          Happy Pride Month

      • “The comfort of decades of shared life” – losing that – even though it was an illusion – has been the hardest thing for me to wrap my mind around. I don’t understand the mentality of someone who throws all of that away for a piece of strange……

        • Yeah. In my case, my ex threw it all away because they didn’t find the decades of shared life comforting. One person’s comfort is another person’s straightjacket. Which: okay, fine, I get that people are different. The problem is that my ex didn’t bother talking honestly with me about any of this until after D-Day #2.

          • Honesty will not hide a pattern of abusive behaviour, justifications however-help conceal it…

  • Hmmm jesus cheaters. Is it a parallel with advocate cheaters? The rainbow people who fight tooth an nail for justice and rights and then pee in their partners rights? Can we have a term for advocate cheaters? Something catchy.

      • Equality-opportunity cheaters??? this is a tough one.
        Love you, CL and CN and ARC (I get it, haha) – find us on Reddit!

    • I had the mindfuck of being manipulated into polyamory After his affair (that I knew about). Except I didn’t know about his cheating for 9 years. I just thought this was what you do when you had a husband who has a huge sex drive & told you he’d go elsewhere if I didn’t keep up. Funny thing is I kept googling “abuse in open relationships” but never could think why. Now I know.

  • “Kids have orthodontist bills — where’s the innate poly-ness? Why aren’t 14 different fuckbuddies paying your student loans or driving your mother-in-law to her chemo appointments? Why is your paycheck monogamous but your bedroom isn’t? It’s just the darnedest thing.”

    Spot on! I had a total lightbulb moment reading this post. See, I’ve never believed being poly is about true reciprocity. It isn’t. Follow the money. Look at who actually does the heavy lifting, the everyday “invisible” labor and who benefits.

    Thank you, Chump Lady.

    • Polyamory is reciprocal for many, it’s just that cheaters are finding it oh so useful as a get out of jail free card when they get tired of sneaking around behind their partner’s back. Pretending to be poly after a few years (instead of doing the right thing and being upfront before dating, giving other person a chance to say no) and convincing said partner makes all that much easier (except chump partner also often isn’t allowed to find their own partner).

      • Right, Shintoga. My ex might well try being poly now that we’re done, but I don’t think they will be successful at it, since it would mean the attention would not be on them 24/7. Really, they just wanted to do whatever they wanted, while I stayed at home being the dutiful co-parent and “spouse appliance.” I know better than to wait for the karma bus, though. The only reason I care about ex’s romantic choices at this point is that they might affect our kids, mainly because ex thinks they’re always parent of the year even while they’re being distracted by shiny objects. So now it’s time for me to be the “sane parent”…

        • For my ex it was the opposite. He needs to be poly because he wants 24/7 attention. If one partner can’t be there, well, that’s A-ok, because he’s got another one, and another, and another…there’s a rotation so he is literally never not getting attention.

          I think one reason so many cheaters, heteronormative and LGBT alike, gravitate toward the excuse of polyamory is because of the potential for 24/7 attention. Cheaters see themselves as the center of the universe with other people just orbiting around them, so it makes sense they’d want a relationship structure where they can have all the people all the time. My ex husband could not spend five minutes to his own devices, but expected me (and others) to bend over backwards for his needs. I couldn’t go out with friends without him blowing up my phone. After we moved to a new city, I couldn’t even make friends without him swooping in and vacuuming up my social life. I’d meet a new person, and the next thing I knew, he’d be adding them on facebook, texting them, and eventually they would only be talking to him. I’d try to get a new hobby, he’d swoop in and absorb it to the point where I felt shoved out of my own interests. He’d become obsessed with anything I had even a passing interest in. I even had a chance to study abroad in Sweden, only for 3 months, and he said if I left to do the program, then we’d just HAVE to open the marriage because he wouldn’t be able to wait that long. …5 years of marriage at that point and he couldn’t just jerk it for three lousy months???? If I was at work, he’d show up at my place of business. A few times I had to tell him to leave. Then he would text me pictures of him hanging out with my friends. I was in school at the time, and he couldn’t leave me alone to study. This man just could. Not. Be. Alone. He needed attention ALL the time.

          He has three wives now. THREE. He is only legally married to one, but has had full ceremonies with two others. The one he is legally married to lives in another state (with another spousal partner of her own…) and I know the only reason that works is because he knows he doesn’t have to keep it in his pants when she’s gone. He does not work. He has not worked in a very long time. He lives off them.

          My marriage was heteronormative, but I think the absurd cheater need for attention doesn’t discriminate. They need need need that attention so they see poly as a perfect opportunity for it. I think the place where it falls through though, is they still actually have to care about the other people. They don’t get to lie and discard and it requires MORE communication they are incapable of giving. I don’t know your ex, but I would wager a guess they might try actually being poly, but their character is still the same, so they’ll probably run into that too. If the partners your ex tries to be with have any sense, they’ll catch on to them as a cheater-who-wants-to-use-poly-as-an-excuse and run the other way.

          • Oh, wow, Kara. Are you sure you weren’t married to Joe Exotic?

            I guess I was trying to suggest that my ex will never be okay with their partners being poly with others, because that would mean they’re not getting lovebombed any more. But you’re quite right to suggest that then, my ex might just find someone else to get lovebombed by. I think part of the problem is that my ex sees themself as a romantic and wants to believe the Twu Wuv narrative with whomever they’re with at the time. That doesn’t necessarily work so well with the poly life, unless you’re very clear about primary/secondary/whatever (and as I noted below in another comment, I’ve known poly people who are not so keen to be strictly viewed as secondary or whatever).

            Thinking of you, hoping you’ve been able to heal, and avoid other Tiger Kings.

            • Lol it’s funny you mention Joe Exotic, because I swear to god he dresses like that now. Often I had to stop him from going out in public with ridiculous, loud, and mismatched outfits, but I guess he’s just gone full Joe now. A friend sent me a picture of what he was wearing at one of his “weddings.” Beetlejuice striped pants, a “kilt” (which I’m pretty sure is actually a skirt) a David Bowie shirt, except it’s a skeleton/zombie Bowie with lightening in the background, bright red shoes, a silver lamme blazer with shredded sleeves, a bowler hat with steampunk goggles and a flower stuck in the brim, and red fingerless gloves.

              And their rings were ring pops.

              this is why my friend sent me the picture because this is one of those “cannot make this shit up” things.

  • Welcome Rainbow Chump to the club no one wanted to join. It is a huge umbrella and it’s next to a beach (shark-free).

    “And the hypocrisy is strong with those who would fight for justice for themselves and others out in the world, but emotionally abuse their own partners with impunity back at home.”

    It has been my observation through the years that the loudest people about justice for others tend to be the biggest assholes at home. As though their good works elsewhere negate the need for good works within their primary relationship(s). I always give them the side-eye and then keep an eye on their beloveds to see if their smiles get set, or their eyes darty/teary, the nervous finger movements, etc. I think their evil twins are the Jesus Cheaters (insert religion of choice).

    Alan Dershowitz comes to mind. The way he treated his first wife (Sue Barlach) during and after their marriage is jaw-droppingly horrifying. That their two sons have completely written her existence and memory out of their lives and public autobiographies leaves me with a healthy disdain for them all.

    “Geez, what’s with the great poly realization after sworn monogamy? I wonder why more things in our ostensibly committed relationships aren’t poly. Kids have orthodontist bills — where’s the innate poly-ness? Why aren’t 14 different fuckbuddies paying your student loans or driving your mother-in-law to her chemo appointments? Why is your paycheck monogamous but your bedroom isn’t? It’s just the darnedest thing.”

    Yeah – what the hell is up with THAT? Why can’t they contribute at least the WORK that goes into it since they already have carte blanche for the fun moments.

    Anyway – sorry you’re here. May your walls sing and your kids too. Despite FuckWit, or to SPITE FuckWit!

    • I agree with your observation about public virtue signaling and private shittiness.

      AP wooed my XW with his wokeness – one of their early dates was going to the national meeting of the socialist party, for instance. He talked a good game, but when it came to an actual disadvantaged person in his life (his wife, first generation immigrant from Latin America), he lied to her, cheated on her and dragged out their divorce for two years by refusing discovery, hoping he’d bankrupt her. In the meantime she is sending money to her parents back home, while he’s sitting on a million-dollar inheritance. Publicly he’s an ally for women’s rights; privately he’s yelling at his wife and smashing dishes.

      It’s true I didn’t much like the guy when all I knew about him was that he was sleeping with my wife, but even from that low starting point, the more I learn about him the more of a shitheel he seems.

    • Thanks NoShit and IG.
      Hope you’re both doing well.

      I have no interest in entering the Wokeness Sweepstakes, or any other sparkles contest. I would not be surprised if that’s one reason my ex discarded me. (The most recent affair partner was not woker than me, but she was a woman of color, and my white ex would have considered that Woke Enough.) I’m sure, if I ever publish a book or do anything else of note, ex will try to hoover me. I plan to be prepared!

      I tried to have the conversation about hypocrisy with ex, but they just put their fingers in their ears and said “lalalalala.” The whole thing has been like trying to reason with a teenager.

      • Hi A Rainbow Chump!

        Check out Dr. Karpman’s “Drama Triangle”. I bet your ex was the rescuer/persecutor type in more than one way.

        My FUU kept trying to pull me into that game thanks to his Fucked Up Upbringing, but I pretty much steadfastly refused to play along. Fortunately, our kids take after me and they call out people on their bullshit. It won’t and hasn’t protected them entirely from crappy people in life, but it minimizes the length of time it takes to recognize them and broom them.

        So take hope and pride in yourself, because even if portions of your life sucked, your kids may have learned some valuable skills along the way. I know, not that most comforting thought, but they have you in their corner.

        I don’t have a problem with people who are aware and self-aware – I have issues with those who use it as a way to abuse their intimates. So I watch their families. Most aren’t twitchy, luckily.

  • “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain”. It’s gaslighting. It’s replacing your trust, your truth, with lies, only you don’t know it, until you do. Then you are left with your heart broken.

  • A relationship whoever you love is a relationship. You don’t hear cheaters that are perfect parents. They have money to go out with, but no money for presents, clothes etc.
    A person who puts affairs above you, kids is not worth being with. They talk a good job, but it’s all talk.
    Don’t expect the truth but they will expect you to help them.

  • I’m sorry you got to join the chump club. It’s not okay to renegotiate the marriage to polygamy without the other partners consent. PERIOD. Getting caught and using polygamy as your excuse? That’s just gaslighting, I’m sorry.
    🤗

  • A family is a circle of people who love each other.

    By that definition I didn’t have a family growing up. My parents used that word, LOVE. But I didn’t feel that. I am afraid that I don’t know what that word means, that I don’t know how. Especially after being cheated on and blamed for it.

    Definitions. What words mean. The longer I am here, the more it feels to me like the issue is LYING. Playing games with words and what they mean and how they are interpreted and twisted to suit one’s agenda. And weaponized. Whether it’s a polyamorist or a Supreme Court justice.

    Love. Justice. Family. Truth. Monogamy. Marriage. Loyalty. I do not know what the fuck any of those words mean anymore. They all hurt right now.

    If I keep my focus on one word that supersedes all the others, it’s going to be KIND. To me, it’s pretty clear what is kind and what isn’t. I’m tired of sparring with so-called family members and the world about what all those other words mean.

    My daughter is bisexual. I am not. I felt alarm when she told me. That alarm I felt was FEAR about how to help her be who she is, if someone would hurt her for who she is, not having experience to share with her as I don’t know what’s it’s like to be bisexual. All I told her is that it is my job as a mom to help her be who she is and if I don’t know what to do I get trusted help.

    What matters is to teach her to be kind. What matters is for me to be kind. And if love is kind, you can’t convince me that anyone who participates in an affair knows what that word means.

    • Velvet Hammer–

      Pardon the pun but you nailed it.

      “if love is kind, you can’t convince me that anyone who participates in an affair knows what that word means.”

  • It’s truly unfortunate that same sex couples feel they have to project perfect marriage images because of the hard fought battle to be able to marry. It reminds me of when a couple of women are allowed to try navy seal training and don’t make it….so many men go nuts with “SEE????? I TOLD YOU WOMEN COULDN’T DO IT!!!!!”.

    Except that most men who try fail too, yet nobody derides men every time a man fails. There are just a lot more men who are allowed to try, so of course more will pass. Two women failing demonstrate nothing.

    Sorry….I digress. LGBQT is irrelevant….lying and changing the agreed upon terms is all that is relevant here. As more and more marry the shitty behavior numbers will look the same because shitty behavior has no correlation with preference.

    • I feel that with my job in EMS. The sexism is RAMPANT. Multiple times a week I hear “Where are all the men at?” or “YOU’RE going to transport me?” or “Well it’s usually men who do this…” I have lifted and moved patients whom, literally moments after I have loaded them onto the ambulance, will look me in the eye and say “You’re too small for this, you can’t move me.” That’s not even touching on the male partners I’ve had to work with who have a chip on their shoulder about women in the field.

      We have to prove ourselves twice as hard and have no room for error. A guy screws up? Well shit happens. A woman screws up? It’s blamed on being a woman. It’s used as evidence that women can’t be first responders/firefighters/police, whatever.

      I don’t speak for LGBT couples, as I am not LGBT myself, but I can understand the parallel of having to be perfect because any screwup in a relationship will end up being used as evidence that same sex relationships don’t work, regardless of the actual circumstances. I think it’s a common thread among those who have very conservative views of different groups like women, LGBT, and POC. Basically anyone who is not white, cishet, binary has to deal with the pressure of never making a mistake and proving their value twice as hard.

      • Yep, good points. Lots of people have experienced tokenism, and the pressure of breaking into a hostile field. I appreciate all those groundbreakers – keep doing the good work, Kara!

  • God, I love all of this so much – Rainbow Chump, thank you beyond describe-ability for writing this! Chump Lady, the same to you for printing it and your response!

    And to Rainbow Chumps and your chumped children everywhere, you have my love and support and understanding. You are mighty, you don’t in any way deserve to be deceived and mistreated, and I honor you in the chump tradition with open e-arms. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

    • Thanks, Ami! I get the sense you might be part of our club, but regardless of whether you are or not, I appreciate your rainbow enthusiasm. Happy Pride to you!

      • Me? Ah, me. I identify as a cis woman. I have somewhat fluid presentation – probably 60 feminine/40 masculine on the spectrum, and my attractions are inspired by many things, but not gender so much, really.

        I love that Chump Lady is so warm and kind and Chump Nation is so diverse. And I especially love that the safety factor is high enough that the whole rainbow of people (in all the senses) can feel welcome vibes here.

        Happy Pride to you, too! And Juneteenth tomorrow too!

  • Rainbow–

    I love your perspective and thank you for speaking out. You really nail some important issues. I think ACE should include parental infidelity but I know how political the committees that created the category is. There have been papers on abuse of power and entitlement in the marriages of highly educated members of the scientific community.

    That poly-after-the-fact tactic is such garbage.

    Of the handful of people I confided in for support just before confronting cheater with the photographic evidence of his icky workplace affair, I talked to a poly couple I’ve been friends with for a long time.

    In these friends’ consensual arrangement, he’s cis poly, she’s bi and what they both said is that cheating is grossly counter to ethical, consensual non-monogamy.

    The guy in the couple added that there are people who use polyamory as a cover to be assholes but that what my cheater did didn’t even rise to that scummy standard. They were both appalled for me and my kids.

    I joked to them how, at a point when I knew there must be an affair going on but before I had proof, I had asked cheater if he wanted a poly arrangement. He said, and I quote, “NOOOOO.”

    I wasn’t seriously offering an open marriage, just dipsticking the level of hypocrisy, double standards and abuse of power.

    I already knew cheater wasn’t on board with an open marriage. During the start of his affair when I was still in the dark, he knew I’d had “offers” from people who’d checked first whether we had an open or poly arrangement and that these individuals had respectfully backed off when I explained we didn’t (to my then knowledge).

    I didn’t recount this to cheater to spark jealousy. I wasn’t even tempted to step out and was actually surprised by the approaches but was simply trying to be transparent and to discuss what to do about valued friends who go to that place yet also show respect for boundaries and our marriage. Do we stay friends or part ways?

    Those discussions would have been the perfect moment for cheater to say, “Um, about this monogamy thing” but no. He required monogamy for me but not for himself.

    Turns out cheater was even jealous of the quality of potential partners I was getting bids from. They seemed so clean, upstanding, decent and healthy compared to his sneaky, scheming, misogynist, bloated alcoholic troll.

    When cheater tried to DARVO later, he could not walk back his own blatant hypocrisy. This stymied any expedient attempt to claim he’d been “unhappy in the marriage” (as all cheaters suddenly decide while cheating). If he’d been so unhappy, why hadn’t he just suggested I consider the offers?

    This is why cheating constitutes control and abuse and in no way falls under the category of groovy consensual anything.

    • Perhaps they already knew he was playing the field? Perhaps he was using the excuse that he was in an open or polygamy style marriage and these males were interested in you?
      That may have been a subtle clue. Just a thought. Mine dropped subtle hints about swinging etc which I always rejected. I know understand why. Ick.

    • Thanks, ((Hell)).
      I agree that ethical polyamorists should be totally clear on cheating, and I’m glad you got some good support from your friends. (Doesn’t it feel SO GOOD when others who know what they’re talking about are indignant on our behalf?) Unfortunately, I know that ex consulted with at least one of our poly friends, and while he confirmed that what they were doing (in the affair) didn’t qualify as poly, he still gave ex some tips for how to be as “respectful” as possible to me while conducting the affair. Like, sexting on ex’s own time instead of getting distracted while with me and kids, though of course ex was still sexting in the bathroom. But of course I unfriended our poly friend as soon as I learned about that conversation. Talk about aiding and abetting…

      • Rainbow–

        I’m pretty stunned by that aider and abetter.

        My friends were right, there really are “notches” on the ethical continuum and that guy was 80 down from ethical with 10 bonus notches subtracted for re-voicing his betrayal in fluffy, caring tones.

        What you say is true– that it feels great when those who know their stuff take our part. But it seems social justice cheaters do their own mutant version of this by grabbing the moral green light from “authorities” to commit betrayal.

        My cheater curried approval for betrayal from a lesbian “work wife” because work boots + plaid shirt = feminist, right? So cheating on his feminist wife was thereby deemed “cool.”

        Never mind that she played beard and pimp to cover his workplace cruising in exchange for his paying her bar tabs and offering her future work because 80% of women leave that field after 15 years, are underpaid, grossly underrepresented in leadership and depend entirely on male mentorship for advancement.

        Come to think of it, was your ex’s aide seeking status or a job by any chance?

  • Hi Rainbow Chump! I’m the ex of a highly visible political cheater. We chumps are asked to suck it up for the the good of the family. Our pain is highly public and we are usually the last to know.
    Don’t know if this helps, but many people came out and supported my leaving the Worm after the fact. There may be more people in your corner than you realize and we are certainly here for you!

    • I often think of Chumps who have to endure this situation at a public level. An extra layer of trauma. You have my sincere sympathy and please know you are thought of. 😪

      I recently watched a documentary about Maria Shriver and Arnold….oh my God. Experiences like yours and hers give me strength and courage to keep going. So there is one tiny good thing you should know comes from your publicized trauma.

      ❤️

    • Am glad you’re Free of the Worm, ((Wormfree)). So sorry you had suffer through gaslighting from various quarters. At least I haven’t had to bear the indignity of humiliation in the public eye, though of course it was humiliating enough as it was! In a way, though, it would be a relief to think that most people already know about it, because one of the really hard things has been deciding what to tell to whom. My truth is my truth, but I’m not the type of person to broadcast personal stuff on social media, anyway – and my ex is the type of person that most acquaintances would be shocked to learn what’s happened. They might not even believe me, or do the “we don’t want to take sides” thing, and that would hurt even more.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing a little of your experience. You definitely fit into the Extra Perfect marriage model.

      • My advice would be to talk about it only if someone specifically asks. I did tell several women at my bank when I removed half the money from our account. They were more than happy to help out as they had been though the same thing.
        Btw, the Worm tried the open marriage trick too. Told me to “find someone too” and we can all be happy. Nice to know it’s standard cheater procedure.

  • Thanks for all of your great comments so far, and your welcoming! I just wrote CL yesterday, wasn’t expecting to be posted so fast, and it happens that I need to get some things done this morning, but I’ll check in again later.

    Let me just say for now that I realize a lot of non-rainbow people also got the polyamory-option mindfuck after (or even before?) their D-Days. And I agree that real poly people would see cheating as a serious red flag. Again, I think that real polyamory is fine, but to me, it looks SUPER hard in practice. It seems very easy to get it wrong, or at least to do it in a way that results in added pain (and lack of recognition for the hard work of live-at-home partners, as CL noted). I’m all for being open and honest and ending relationships when they don’t work anymore, but I do think that having kids shifts the standards a lot: partners *should* work a lot harder at a relationship involving kids, and not just walk away – or give themselves permission to cheat.

    One of the hardest things for me is that my ex STILL wants to blame-shift and gaslight, even now. (My older kid just graduated high school, and now of course it’s all my fault that we can’t all have a family dinner together to celebrate. *eye-roll*) I know this kind of blame-shifting is common for all chumps, but my ex has a whole rainbow-inclusive appearance to uphold. Still, in a way, my ex’s focus on appearances has worked in my favor: technically, we were legally married only 10 years ago, but our commitment ceremony was 10 years before that, so we just made it to 20. In my state, that’s the magic number for full spousal maintenance for the entire length of the marriage. Unfortunately, our divorce is not yet finalized, but my ex knows how bad it will make them look if they try to argue that our big ceremony with 150+ guests meant nothing, just because we didn’t have the option to make it legal at the time. (And you’d be surprised about how confused lawyers in suburban America get when presented with a situation like this.)

  • Why does every issue have to be so polarized these days? LGBTQ relationships seem to be no exception. You either don’t accept it at all, or you are so “open minded” that anything goes. Why judge just because someone chooses to be poly? Maybe they didn’t’ know when they married and the cheating is just the result of repressed sexuality (excuse often used for LGBTQ cheating on straight spouses). It seems there is no middle ground. The LGBTQ chump gets “how could you think such an unnatural union could possibly survive anyway?” on the one side and “Why are you judging your partner’s sexuality?” on the other. Where is the middle ground? Personally, I prefer to look more carefully at individual choice versus harm to others. Two people of any orientation choosing to get married hurts nobody. A partner cheating without the knowledge or consent of the other partner after promising monogamy hurts the other partner and potentially a lot of other people too (children, extended relatives, etc.). I am all in favor of the LGBTQ right to marry, but believe it is wrong for an LGBTQ partner to cheat on his/her spouse of any orientation. Is that level of nuance allowed in today’s society?

    It seems it is ok to take this middle ground in Chump Nation. I am glad there is at least somewhere for the LGBTQ chump to get validation, support, and sympathy. Let it always be so.

  • I was close to a couple where one brought three children into their new family. Their families embraced them wholeheartedly. They seemed so on top of things. Ran a successful business together. Then they got married with the white dresses and the kids strewing rose petals etc. but in less than a year, the one partner who didn’t bring the children with, started cheating and her wife just could do nothing but watch, suffer and protect the kids, lose her house and livelihood. It was both shocking and bad and the cheater’s family was appalled. Several relationships were destroyed with that breakup. Those children suffered a lot. And the cheater was so cold hearted about the whole thing. I’m not sure why But it seemed the act of marriage was a trigger for destruction.

  • My mental image of RuPaul as a Supreme Court Justice is hilarious and delightful. Oh how I wish that were a possibility! What must we do to make it happen?!?!

      • RuPaul wouldn’t need law school to be a better judge than Brett Kavanaugh.

        Reading CL’s suggestion that Ru replace “I like beer” boy in the Supremes has made my day!!

        👏😂👍

  • Rainbow Chump,
    Thanks for your insightful post. Fingers crossed that you get full spousal support in spite of the tricky legal questions about counting the first ten years…
    I fear you are only seeing the beginning of the blameshifting and the gaslighting. My ex went from tears streaming down his face on his knees begging me for another chance to now referring to me as the bitter ex-wife with anger issues. He remarried (he met her after the divorce) just this past weekend and told people that the kids (21 & 23) weren’t there because I had poisoned them against him. He shakes his head oh-so-sadly and just cannot believe how bitter I am. Poor poor timid man who is just trying to live a happy life with his true love. 🤮
    Four years divorced, I can now roll my eyes at his bullshit. But it STILL is upsetting to watch his smear campaign unfolding. Impression management is his entire life’s goal. ((((Hugs Rainbow)))

    • Yep, I hear you, KK. The sad sausage reigns supreme in some people…
      Part of why I never saw how disordered my ex was until D-Day #2 is that they alternate almost exclusively between the self-pity and charm channels, hardly ever rage. (They only get “ragey” when they go so far into self-pity that they start crying and shaking and threatening self-harm.) My ex was so good at mirroring other people that I just didn’t see, for a long long time, that there was no core sense of self there. Now, it makes sense to me that disordered people like that literally CAN’T take responsibility for their bad behavior, and will always blame things on others. All I can say is that I know the truth. I hope my kids can figure out the truth, too – I have talked in a very limited way with my teen who just graduated, but so far she has not shown much curiosity about how our marriage blew up, so I figure daughter might need some time before she hears a little more. (Daughter has her own mental health issues – I don’t want to overload her.)

      Hugs back to you, ((KathleenK)). Hope you keep feeling mighty!

  • The straight spouse experience is also part of the LGBTQ experience, although our experiences is usually overlooked and too often discounted.
    Many straight spouses were married to people who chose to deceive us, who cheated on us, and who did so not because of a homophobic culture, but because they preferred the outlines of an apparently straight life, believed they were entitled to it, and so withheld from us the information needed to make choices about our own lives.
    We, too, have been asked to agree to multiple partners under the guise of letting our spouses “express their gay side”; our spouses tell us that they love us emotionally, that the down-low sex on the side is “only sex,” so why are we upset about it.
    Unfortunately, we straight spouses have too often been told, when we tell our stories, that it is our spouses who deserve the sympathy, or that we should be willing to “rise above” our pain because the cause of gay rights is more important than our private anguish. If we’re liberals, and consider and considered ourselves allies, this is a stick we beat ourselves with as we contemplate ending our marriages, which is especially true in the case of those of us married to men who come out as transgender.

    • Yes, I hear you, Adelante. I do think our internalized homophobia complicates matters for LGBTQ+ people who married heterosexually, esp. many years ago. We are all enjoined to be open and honest in our relationships, but how do you do that if you fear that your extended family and friends will all hate you if you open up, and you will blow up your life for an identity that disgusts you? BUT, I really, really, sympathize with your position as a spouse, too. It’s the height of unfairness to celebrate someone coming out of the closet at the expense of a long-suffering chump spouse. The point is that homophobia hurts everybody, including (especially?) the straight/cis spouses who were trying to be fully invested in someone who couldn’t even love themselves. It’s yet another reason for straight/cis people to be allies, and for human psychology/relationships to be taught in every high school. Let’s create a world where LGBTQ+ people don’t carry that crushing self-doubt, and where nobody has to get married because it’s just the expected thing to do!

      One of my dear straight/cis women friends learned a little over a year ago, out of the blue, that her spouse (born male) wanted to transition. My friend “Bella” tried to see whether she could still be attracted to her partner as a woman, and couldn’t. (Bella had done all she could: she had suspected for some time that there was some deep, dark secret her partner didn’t want to tell her, and had tried to encourage conversations about it.) Many of us progressives regardless of gender/orientation want to show that we are allies, and so of course Bella saw droves of people supporting her spouse (now ex) in their transition. But Bella suffered mostly in silence – even more than the average chump, she couldn’t say anything to draw attention to her experience without looking anti-trans. I’ve tried to be there for Bella, and we’ve both been surprised by all the ways our feelings of chumpdom align (even though I don’t think there was any actual infidelity involved in her case). It just goes to show that for many of us, the biggest problem is not necessarily our spouse’s sexual acts with other people, but the deceit and manipulation involved. And that cheaters often are not mature enough in self-understanding to be able to commit to another person in the first place.

      I wish that there were a more general understanding that trauma deserves attention, whatever its source. Hugs to you, ((Adelante))

      • Also, Adelante – I don’t doubt that there are plenty of LGBTQ+ people out there who use internalized homophobia as an excuse for old-fashioned cheating deceit and mindfuckery. That’s basically what my partner did with the “innate polyamory” line. It’s still never okay to abuse others, even when we’ve been abused ourselves (by specific people, or by life, or by society). Thanks for sharing your story.

  • I imagine it’s very difficult with the extra pressure of having to prove your relationship’s worth twice as hard, any failure is going to be blamed on it being a same-sex relationship, and not…y’know…that sometimes relationships fail. Even without cheating being involved, it happens. But for LGBT relationships, it always comes back to that.

    I am not LGBT myself, but I do see this with my friends who are. They feel like they can’t openly talk about things that come up in their relationships because of their orientation. Like they feel the minute they mention their partner is same sex, or non-binary, or genderfluid, the whole vibe of the conversation changes. People have a hard time accepting and being comfortable with the idea that same-sex couples experience the same troubles with relationships as heteronormative ones.

    And with poly stuff, I have plenty of things to say about that in regard to hetero relationships, given my marriage ended because my ex husband wanted to be poly and I did not, but I can see how that would be even more complicated and difficult in LGBT communities. One of my closest friends, whom I’ve known for almost 13 years, is bisexual. She has almost given up on dating because she is so sick of saying “bisexual” and it being assumed she is also poly. She is monogamous, wants to get married, and wants a traditional family. She’s tired of having to explain that bisexual does not mean poly. She was on dating sites for a while, but quit because she kept running into people who were expecting her to be their threesome “unicorn.” I didn’t know what that meant until she told me. Essentially, it means that magical, perfect third person who swings both ways that fits perfectly into a triad. She said there are so many creepy couples looking for “unicorns” to experiment with and they descend on bisexual individuals like the plagues of Egypt. Plus she has to deal with her (very conservative, traditional) mother and step father saying “Well if you marry a man you’re straight, if you marry a woman you’re gay.”

    It’s ridiculous that she feels like she has to give up on dating entirely to get away from having her sexuality dismissed by her family or from being seen as a multitool for experimental cishet couples.

  • I would just like to say that my brother and his husband have been together for over 25 years. Nary a betrayal. My XW betrayed us (me and our children) after 8 years. Betrayal knows no skin color, no ethnicity, no sexual orientation. We all feel the same pain.

    PS: I call BS on the gay-male relationship stereotype that few if any gay-male couples are fully monogamous. My boring, bickering homebody brother and brother-in-law are proof enough for me.

    • Good points. While I do think that non-monogamy is more common in the LGBTQ+ community and especially among gay men than in the general population, it’s also true that there are plenty of fully monogamous couples, too. I envy *anyone* who can avoid the drama.

      From what I’ve seen, there’s usually drama in any non-monogamous situation, no matter how well-negotiated it is. It stands to reason: the more adults involved, the more opportunity for non-compatible desires and needs. One of my gay male friends was in an “every other weekend” type secondary relationship for years, and it finally imploded after much negotiation, when it became clear that the secondary partner had never really been okay with his status. Instead, my friend had been subjected to a long-term mindfuck, with the secondary partner pretending to be okay with the situation, while all the while subtly pointing out the flaws of the primary partner/husband and trying to get my friend all to himself. If I ever date again, I’ll be looking for someone as boring as they come, who is truly happy just to Netflix and chill and take the occasional post-Covid vacation to places with good food and rock formations.

  • “Cheating is always about rigging the game.”

    Thinking of how the idea of cheating as “rigging the game” is useful in the context yesterday’s discussion about people who don’t get it, as well as Rainbow Chump’s discussion of the narratives about marriage and cheating.

    Whether a cheating partner plays the “Twu Wuv” or polyamory card or whether a friend or relative says “it takes to,” this is a great answer: “Cheating is always about rigging the game.”

    That takes the discussion away from sex, love, body image, money, religious beliefs, etc. “Cheating is always about rigging the game.” It’s always about maintaining power over others.

    • Yes, you’re right. It can be very hard to see that you’re in a rigged game. My ex didn’t think they were rigging anything – they thought they were just trying to meet their “needs.” So I have personal experience with how emotional abuse isn’t always deliberate – though there was no excuse for my ex after I kept saying, repeatedly, “this is not okay with me.” (But the best boundary is just walking away.) Charles M. Blow, the gay NYTimes columnist, once wrote (wrt GW Bush): “One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient. In fact, a man convinced of his virtue even in the midst of his vice is the worst kind of man.”

      • GW Bush was supposedly a cheater. Took his girlfriend along on air force 1, fancy hotel rooms, etc.

  • I feel a little bad – In my letter, I didn’t get into the very real issues that a lot of LGBTQ+ people have with custody fights, etc. I get that cheaters of all stripes can play hardball, and legal same-sex marriage has evened the playing field for a lot of us rainbow chumps. But still, for many years (and even now) there have been cases of partners withholding child custody or alimony, with the backing of their extended families and local courts. That’s one reason why I did legal second-parent adoptions for both of my kids (since I was not their bio parent) – not that I thought at the time that I would need the legal protection, but it was recommended by the people we hired to help us navigate same-sex parenthood. And now I’m super glad I did that!

    (When we worked with a lawyer to file for domestic partnership, and draw up wills etc. almost two decades ago, I remember her saying that we do all these things because of worst-case scenarios. And at the time, I thought “even if things go south in our relationship eventually, at least we both can be rational and kind about it.” How wrong I was! So, thank goodness for lawyers who consider worst-case scenarios.)

  • My wife recently began to refer to herself as bisexual after saying she was a lesbian for many years. It has nothing to do with monogamy. She’s more monogamously “oriented “ than I am.
    Anyway, it’s painful to deal with this stuff when you have had to work so hard to just get your relationships respected. Hugs to all us Rainbow chumps

  • Hugs to all! One of the things I have realised since the whole being chumped thing is what CL says in the book: cheating is not a gender thing, it’s a character thing! We probably all knew this deep inside, I think, but it’s so true and its so worthwhile to say it out loud. So often I think people can ascribe certain characteristics to different genders. How a person identifies supposedly means something about how they should behave and feel. Cheaters prove that it’s across the board!! However you identify, you can chump and be chumped! And hey…. at least the divorce is a way that your kids are going to be able to bond with the kids of cis hetero parents…. After all…… 50% of those relationships fail! Sorry to say it…. but maybe this means you’re “normal”!!!! It sucks huh. PS I love this post. It’s great.

  • I’m a queer woman and was married for 12 years. I remember going on marches and protests to get gay marriage and crying when it actually came into law. At last we can be equal. I never actually thought *I* would get married but i fought for my queer kin to have those rights. When i did get married, it was my partner who had proposed and i was so blown away. It never once crossed my mind that it would not be forever.

    We had a great marriage until year 11. She came home one day and told me she was in love with a friend. Then the “I’m poly” card was played – my choice was split up or get on board with it. Yes I got the whole speeches about how poly is so progressive and logical and natural and “love comes in all colors” crap. But i was in so much pain at the thought of loosing what was a wonderful relationship for so long (sunk cost fallacy) that I thought i owed it to myself or to the marriage to “give it a shot”. So many LGBTQ people i knew were poly and that made me feel like maybe it was normal? But it had never been mentioned in over a decade of happy monogamy. I went through months of hell watching her come and go to her lovers place. I forced myself to ‘try’. Our mutual queer friends were a little shocked but they all seemed to take her side , the heart wants what the heart wants YUCK.

    As someone else said, being truely poly is all about honesty and boundaries and consent. My consent was coerced under threat of divorce, she knew i was devastated. Within 2 weeks she was moaning about how sad and mopey i was and why couldnt i just get on board, becuase its not going to work out if i dont get happy about it. Well she broke all the rules she made for herself – so I finally snapped and ended it. It was the most difficult thing i have ever done in my life.

    I felt the shame of knowing that our families and our communities would know that our marriage had failed, after all those early years of queer activism to win our right to be married. I could sense my straight family thinking that gay marriages just aren’t the same or aren’t as real and LOOK here’s the proof!!! and a sense that she had to go elsewhere to get her ‘needs met’ reflected like i was a frigid wife.

    Well I’m a year out now and she is with her AP. Funnily enough they are monogamous – Uhauled after 3 months and have got a cat – you can’t make this shit up. So she was never really poly, she just wanted a specific Twu Wuv person and used poly as an excuse to have her cake. Well good job i took her cake away, but I will always be sad about how our marriage ended and I will never get married again.

    I feel sad when i see lesbian couples announcing their engagement or marriage because when i looked into it there is something like 5 times the divorce rate amongst lesbians than heterosexuals. When I think about it, in over 30 years of living in queer community – i can only think of 3 couples who have stayed together more than 15 years. Someone usually leaves for another person, rinse and repeat, serial monogamy or monkey branching.

    • Hugs to you, (((ChumpyFace))).
      Sorry I didn’t see your post until now! And I commiserate about the poly mindfuck. I haven’t seen any articles about it in queer circles, but then it’s not really the kind of thing that would go viral. It sucks, and I hope you can find your meh on a Tuesday very soon! Sounds like you wizened up and ended the relationship sooner than I did – in my case, it wasn’t so much that I was okay with trying the poly thing, as that I had kids etc. to think about. I hope for your sake that the karma bus hits your ex & AP one of these years, though as CL would remind us, they already have to live with themselves, and that’s punishment enough. Hope to see you around!

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