By Esteban Cencerrado Lee-O’Neal
An interesting part of this whole life change was overcoming my own programmed homophobia. I was so excited to meet Rex and to move into a new relationship, while at the same time feeling twinges of self-hate. I also was experiencing very scary nightmares. I dreamed that angels were descending from heaven to kill me with huge chrome swords, and I also had a recurring dream that my youngest son escaped my grasp on a dock and kept drowning right in front of my eyes. I wasn’t feeling mentally ill, per se, I just chalked it up to the fact that this was obviously going to rattle my subconcsience. Throught it all I never took any medication for anxiety or depression. I was realizing my core dream. I had to trust myself, my own instincts and my own discernment.
Our first real date was marvelous and it became clear to me quickly that I liked him. A lot. He was not what I had expected, not that I had any huge expectations, but he certainly didn’t fit the few I had. What was more intriguing was that I went from thinking three kids was challenging to actually contemplating six kids in one family. That seemed so…Mormon! Ha! But any time I started to wonder if we could make it work, Rex kept saying, “Listen. Let’s just have fun. Let’s give it a year, and if it’s working, we’ll keep going!” In other words, he didn’t pressure me, nor did he place any rules on me or show any signs of jealousy. I felt like a rare, adored, wild bird. He let me freely do what I wanted, and in doing so, I wanted to keep flying right back to him.
He asked if I’d move in with him. During my separation with my wife, we moved in and out of our home we owned together, we shifted our perception and started calling it the “kid’s home”, she and I left when the other parent was caretaking, and we kept it focused only on the kids. She and I stayed married for four full years after we separated so that she could keep my health benefits and return to get her masters degree. Rex had no problem with our arrangement, and so it just went along fine. My exwife and I are quite mature and we handled our life change fairly. Rex maintained a sweet demeanor through it all, sending me the message that we could do it.
What my exwife and I didn’t want to lose was our genuine connection, we do get along famously, we still still laugh and joke with each other. She and I put a lot of years into our relationship, and we gave each other our youth. Who wants to lose those precious moments because of a divorce? It’s our intent to always speak kindly to each other, and to remember our fun times in the past raising our kids. I didn’t make a mistake when I chose her, I only wish I could have fulfilled those brash promises I made her about changing and staying. I didn’t understand how difficult it was going to be to deny who I really was. She saved her virginity for marriage and landed a gay man. Sheesh, what a jip! We still laugh about it.
One time she said to me in tears, “This is SO HARD! Telling everyone you’re gay is so embarrassing!” I replied, “In two years you’re going to tell me how much easier it is than a typical divorce.” She asked, “How so?” I said, “Because you’ll NEVER have to compare yourself to a woman…” Two years later she said, “You were right. This was the best divorce in comparison to all my friends divorces.”
Rex and I just fit. He’s an enigma to me. I love thinking about him, and I love how he smells. I love that I don’t know everything about him, that we maintain allure even after 8.5 years together. I love making him happy. We don’t fight, we never have, but that’s not to say we don’t disagree, we just refuse to fight. I guess this is how some enamored straight men feel about their wives, I think I finally get it. He attracts me, and sometimes I wonder how he can say the things he does. But each time we retire to bed I feel deeply happy and just downright lucky to be with him. I have learned that being homosexual is a lot like being heterosexual, sex is only part of it, but affection is key.
Our kids span 15 years. Right now our oldest is 25 and our youngest just turned 12. We have a lot of challenges like everyone does. Our oldest has PTSD from a terrible car accident when he was 14. Some of our kids are slower learners than others. We’ve got three in college now, more on the way. We’ve got more left-brainers than right brainers, my daughter may pursue Med school. Our kids don’t fight either, and they are all very different people. Rex and I have 50/50 custody, but only two are under 18 years of age now. And truthfully, with all of our challenges, I can’t imagine life without them.
You’ll never meet another gay married couple who both have vasectomies. You’ll probably never meet anyone like us. We’re the 1% of the 10%. We’re that gay family that looks more like a straight family than anyone you’ll ever meet. And we’re very happy that way.