Fran Drescher is pretty lucky. Her gay ex-husband, Peter Jacobson, became her BFF, and their relationship is now the premise of her new TV Land show Happily Divorced. After their 20-year-long marriage ended in 1999, Peter told Fran that he was seeing men. I'm sure Fran was shocked or unnerved at first, but she got over it, and they "learned how to reinvent their relationship and their friendship into something else that accommodates their life now."
Hey, it's certainly not the strangest scenario out there, and it's one that has played out on and off screen in pop culture before. (Ross Geller's ex-wife, anyone? Belly Fat Cure author, devoted husband, and father of two Jorge Cruise came out recently, too ...) But just because the situation has gone mainstream and primetime doesn't mean it's gotten any easier for both parties involved.
When guy meets girl, guy marries girl, then guy comes out, there's usually a lot of sympathy for the closeted party. And that's completely legit.
Even though we've made a lot of progress in the last couple of decades, it's still by no means a piece of cake to come out. I have a lot of compassion for those struggling with their sexuality. But at the same time, I've always felt equally bad for the unwitting straight party who believed they were marrying a heterosexual -- albeit, in some cases, "metrosexual" -- partner.
I mean ... it's really gotta suck to find out you married someone who isn't being honest with you or with themselves about their sexuality. No, it's not easy to do that, but that doesn't make it any less hurtful to be one half of a sham partnership. Sure, to some extent, just because your hubby was gay, it doesn't mean he was any less of a partner to you, a father to your children, if they were in the equation. But we all deserve a healthy, happy sex life as a part of our partnerships, built on trust. That's got to be missing when one party isn't out.
Maybe I'm especially sympathetic to straight ladies who find out they married gay guys, because I'm a repeat offender of dating closeted guys myself. Dating is obviously not marrying, but even in the case of lower-level commitment, it feels like betrayal to find out your guy was pulling a Brokeback behind your back. You're embarrassed, ashamed maybe, left a bit bruised. Yeah, your ego takes a beating. People can make you feel like you're a dummy not to have known, or that you "turned" him gay, which is cruel and ridiculous. (Take it from Gaga -- they were born this way.) Again, I'm sure it's nothing compared to what your partner is going through, but you're still in a crappy position that warrants its own sympathy.
In the end, the best case scenario is that you figure out how to morph from lovers to platonic buddies. That's true for any divorced or estranged couple. It seems like Fran not only ended up with the best case scenario, but she made the best of the situation, allowing it to inspire a new chapter of her career. Hopefully, Happily Divorced will serve to help other women in the same boat learn how to cope as well as Fran did.
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