What is Straight Partners Anonymous? Straight Partners Anonymous (SPA) is a UK-based support service for straight people whose partner is gay, lesbian or bisexual. The
group was founded by Janice who personally experienced the pain and
devastation when her ex-husband came out in 2001. In December 2008 she
became fed-up with complaining about the lack of face-to-face support in the UK, and
decided to do something about it. That's when she had the idea of a support group. There is also a private Facebook group; please contact Janice for details.
Although SPA's primary purpose is to support straight people, their gay, lesbian, or bisexual partner may find that coming out is easier for them, knowing that their partner is supported.
A new service for the UK When SPA was set-up in December 2008, there was only one UK-based online support forum for straight people and no face-to-face groups. SPA is a new way for straight people to help and support each other whether they're divorced, separated, continuing their relationship, or living with a partner who is in deep denial. Some SPA members will be just starting their journey, whereas others have been on the journey for many years.
Coming out of the closet
Sometimes straight partners are forced into the closet that their partner has recently vacated. This is because the issue of gay/straight relationships is barely recognised by others and the straight partner may be unable to speak openly about what has happened to family and friends. Straight partners often don't know where to find help, they feel ashamed or embarrassed, or personal circumstances make searching for help difficult. Sometimes it looks like there are many support services for the gay, lesbian, or bisexual partner but nothing for the straight partner. It's time for straight partners to come out of the closet too and access the support they often need to rebuild their lives and face the future. SPA offers the practical help they'll need.
Knowing it's important to get the word out quickly and effectively, Janice initially contacted Bonnie Kaye in the USA. Bonnie has personal and professional experience in this area; in addition to writing several books on the topic, she emails a monthly newsletter. She's also internationally acknowledged as an expert in the field. Bonnie agreed to include Janice's plea for straight partners in the UK to contact her. Two women did just that, and SPA was born in January 2009.
Thanks Bonnie for your support! You can access her website here.
The Straight Spouse Network (SSN) also refers straight people in the UK to Janice.The SSN is an international organisation that
provides personal, confidential support and information to straight people and their gay, lesbian or bisexual partners to help them to resolve constructively the issues that arise when coming out. You can access the SSN website here.
Our services In addition to the website, SPA offers a face-to-face support group for straight partners as well as the Facebook forum. Please contact Janice for information. Both services are free.
If you're gay, lesbian, or bisexual and you have a straight partner, please tell them about SPA.
Confidentiality Our bywords are confidentiality, privacy, and respect. These are so important especially if you feel unable to discuss your problems openly. SPA members aren't expert in the field, nor are we trained counsellors but we have all experienced similar feelings of devastation and loss.
Furthermore, gay bashing isn't tolerated because homophobia is one of the reasons why gay, lesbian, and bisexual people sometimes try to live as straight people in the first place. By offering support to straight partners, SPA is working to bring about a change in attitudes towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual people too.
Common issues Each SPA member's experience and personal circumstances are different but we all share some common issues:
A sense of betrayal and utter devastation
Anxiety and fear about the future
Worries about children of whatever age, and how or what to tell them
How to deal with family and friends
The need to protect yourself from other people's ignorance and homophobia