I prefer to be late to an opinion party. Rather than reacting when something newsworthy happens, I savor ideas and questions for a long time. When I get to writing, most ideas have already been launched by other writers and perhaps forgotten. Sometimes out of the ashes of burned ideas come deeper questions. Hopefully this article contains a few of them. I’m sure it doesn’t contain any answers.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of “Eat, Pray, Love”, announced she was divorcing her husband because she was in love with a woman. Her husband is the man who appears at the end of “Eat, Pray, Love” and then is featured in the next memoir, “Committed: A Love Story.” She realized she loved her long-time best friend Rayya Elias, an artist and recovering cancer patient.
A month later, renowned Christian blogger Glennon Doyle Melton (known affectionately to her readers as “G”) announced she was divorcing her husband. G’s announcement came just days before she was about to release her long-anticipated book “Love Warrior” which chronicles the four-year struggle she and her family went through to recover from her husband’s infidelity. G’s life has always been lived on the outside as she used her blog Momastery to show the world how God helped her recover from substance abuse and many other problems.
Though the timing of her announcement was inconvenient, coming days before she took her first victory lap for the publishing of this book about her marriage success, she realized she needed to tell the world about her divorce online. She informed the world she had come to grips with not wanting to be married to her husband any longer.
They now live just a few houses down from each other. They make meals together and share the parenting duties. Other than a change of location, many things have stayed the same.
Except something has changed. A couple of weeks ago, G announced she is dating soccer star Abby Wombach and has fallen in love. She announced it on Facebook and then answered a few questions. Here is one of the quotes from that announcement:
Remember in Love Warrior how hard I struggled to understand what being in love meant?
I get it now.
I get it.
I am in love.
And I’m really, deeply happy.
Here are two seemingly straight women who have opted for a love relationship with another woman. Both of them are authors who have focused on their marriage relationships both in writing and speaking.
Both of them refused to identify if they are lesbian or bisexual, and have said the distinction is unimportant.
But is it? Oh, certainly they have a right to believe it is unimportant, and for them it is. They have the right to love whom they will. They also have the right not to over-analyze it. But I have the right to ask some questions about this trend. It is a trend for seemingly straight women to come out, admitting to being in love with a woman.
This is a trend you seldom see with men. Yes, there have been men who adopted women as “beards” (i.e. taking a straight partner so you appear straight yourself) in the days when homosexuality in the public eye was not contemplated or accepted.
But look at the roster of women who have been straight and then became bisexual: Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Megan Fox, Anna Paquin, Megan Mulally, Evan Rachel Wood and many more. Most male celebrities who are bisexual have never been married, but almost all of these women have. So why are women seemingly more inclined to identify as bisexual than men?
There are many qualities which constitute some level of attraction in a woman’s sexual identity. Respect, compassion, acceptance, safety, security, humor, kindness, and showing attention are all factors which help women feel more attraction. Some women endure marriages where these things are not given or shown. Is it possible some women eventually see beyond natural sexual barriers and desire some of these other qualities even if it is a woman who brings them?
On a physical level, women appreciate the beauty seen in other women. Observe when a woman posts a cute selfie on social media. All her female friends gush over it. I cannot imagine men doing that with another man. Is it possible women can be attracted to other women on a non-sexual level, and that given the right conditions this will translate to passion?
I wonder also how many women go through seasons of bisexuality after having years of difficult marriage relationships? There are no studies done to identify these, but several of my counseling clients who practice bisexuality certainly endured difficult marriages?
And how much do examples like Melton and Gilbert affect women who may be considering bisexuality?
These are trends to note and ponder. I am sure some of you will see spiritual forces at work here as well, and perhaps that is correct. Perhaps the spirit of this age is a “try new kinds of love out” type of spirit. I don’t know. Time will tell, but I wanted to pose a few questions. I’m not really looking for the definitive answer to all of this.
One final question. Gilbert and Melton have received a mostly warm reception to their announcements. I wonder if that would still be the case if they had left their husbands for men?