The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute: NCFCA and Growing Up in a Conservative Bubble — Libby Anne’s Thoughts

The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute: NCFCA and Growing Up in a Conservative Bubble — Libby Anne’s Thoughts

Libby Anne blogs at Love Joy Feminism on Patheos.

As I prepared my debate briefs, scouring the internet for evidence, there were two places I always looked first—the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. A good quote or two that could be applied in argument against a given plan was generally sufficient for my purposes. I filed my briefs carefully in my box and prepared for competition.

I honestly think my participation in NCFCA, known colloquially as “homeschool debate,” was the best thing about my high school years. I participated for four full years, attending debate competitions across my region. I loved it—the buzz of people, the feeling of purpose, and the heady rush I got when stepping up to speak.

Homeschool debate was one of the social highlights of my high school career. At the time, my main socialization events were church, AWANA (bible club), and a weekly arts and music co-op. Homeschool debate gave me one more weekly opportunity to see friends (or at least, the ones who were also in our local debate club) and, wonder of wonders, an opportunity to meet people outside of our local social circle. Debate tournaments were amazing—they served as the gathering points of dozens or even hundreds of homeschooled teens just like me, comprising the largest gathering of young people I found myself in outside of our annual homeschool convention.

And here is where we come back to the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Homeschool debate was an approved activity for me and many other teens like me because our parents considered it safe. Homeschool debate was founded by Christy Shipe, the daughter of Michael Farris, founder of HSLDA. The goal of homeschool debate was to train up a generation of young people for public speaking and political involvement in an effort to restore America to its Christian foundation. We were those young people.

NCFCA was unabashedly Christian. To participate in homeschool debate, we had to sign a statement of faith. This meant that the teens filling the halls of a given debate tournament were, like me, growing up in Christian homeschooling families. They were there because they shared the mission and vision of NCFCA. They too were being trained to be culture changers—they too were being brought up to embrace their parents’ vision for the restoration of a Christian nation.

As I’m sitting here, all my memories from homeschool debate are pouring over me. There were the long car trips in which we carpooled with others in our club and spent hours singing, talking, and playing games. There were the hotel stays where we congregated with the other debaters late into the night, sipping hot chocolate in the hotel lobby and swapping stories about tournaments and life. There were the times when we stayed with host families and made new friends in the process. There were the tournaments where disaster struck—a car problem, an illness—and memories were made. There were the times I stood up without a shred of actual evidence and used simple logic to overturn the other team’s carefully laid plan, basking in the heady rush I felt as I did so. The conferences, the tournaments, it all comes rushing back, along with the time spent on the homeschool debate forum cracking homeschool jokes with other debaters (When can the principle kiss the teacher without facing a harassment lawsuit? When you’re homeschooled, because your father is the principle and your mother is the teacher!).

And once again I’ve lost track of where I started this essay—with the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. My parents and the parents of the other students in homeschool debate thought they were preparing us to go out and take on the world, but they had a curious way of doing so. Namely, homeschool debate was like having pro-lifers debate each other about whether abortion should be legal. One year the topic was protectorates, and my partner and I created a plan to get rid of the D.C. gun ban. Watching the other team when we got up and presented our plan was always amusing. After all, how could they argue against the second amendment? They couldn’t! Not only would it be hard for them to argue against their principles, but also the judges were generally chosen from among homeschool parents and their church friends, meaning that the audience was one-sided as well. Generally, the other team would get up and argue that because of a case currently working its way through the courts, our plan was not inherent—in other words, the problem was real but was already being solved.

And beyond just this, we all knew that the best sources to use came from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. If you quoted one of them to back up a point you were making, you were golden. In college, I learned something I hadn’t known before—that those centers leaned right and were generally taken with a large grain of salt. In homeschool debate, no one was going to argue that. In homeschool debate, no one knew that. We accepted the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute as fair and balanced and objective—and our coaches weren’t about to challenge that. The same was true of just about everything about homeschool debate.

Homeschool debate took place in a bubble. Within that bubble, it was great—I learned a lot about rhetoric, logic, and argumentation—but it was still in a bubble. You can’t raise a group completely outside of a culture and then send them out into it expecting them to change that culture without even accurate knowledge about that culture. Individuals raised in a bubble like we were are simply not equipped to do that—and indeed, our understanding and perspective was limited because we were never encouraged to really question and think outside of the box.

It’s funny, I actually think homeschool debate is what started me thinking my way out of the entire belief system. The introduction to argumentation and logic that I received during my participation served me well once I got outside of the bubble and subjected it to questioning. It was that very foundation in argumentation and logic that kept me going, somehow naively unafraid of what I might find or where my questions might take me. I suppose I might say that homeschool debate gave me the tools I needed to think myself out of the bubble, but that I had to recognize the existence of the bubble before I could do that. But of course, none of this is what my parents intended when they involved me in homeschool debate, eager to train me as conservative culture warrior.

Of Love and Office Supplies: Philosophical Perspective’s Thoughts

Of Love and Office Supplies: Philosophical Perspective’s Thoughts

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Philosophical Perspectives” is the author’s chosen pseudonym.

There are many things about the NCFCA that were… not awesome.

But as I’ve been remembering my years in the league, I’ve also been remembering the beautiful things – the friendships I gained with people around the country.

We were a strange bunch – “like-minded”, high-achieving homeschooled teenagers who liked to spend their spare time researching trade policy, arguing about Calvinism, and discussing the validity of resolutional critiques. We shopped for suits (at goodwill) and cooed over office supplies. We compared flow charts and rehashed debate rounds to figure out how we needed to boost our evidence boxes.

My church growing up hosted a New Year’s Eve party at a rec center every year which, as a tangent, I always thought was a dumb location – what were you supposed to do, if we didn’t want to play basketball?  Work out? Communally? Anyway, after several years of sitting there, bored, I hit upon the perfect solution – I brought my debate box and re-wrote my case.

I saw my friends in person maybe once a month, usually at tournaments.  Tournaments are weird places to hang out. We would be in rounds from 8am-10pm, if everything was running on time.  I remember once not finishing until midnight.  We grabbed moments when we could – during bye rounds or speech rounds if we weren’t competing. But we were exhausted, high on adrenaline and Red Bull, and most of the time competing against each other. We were also under the watchful eye of parents in every hallway.

Relationships may have been sparked at tournaments, but friendships grew and deepened online – mostly through Xanga, AIM, and HSD.

For the uninitiated, Xanga was an early web-blogging service, predating even MySpace. For us, it was facebook before there was facebook.  You could write articles or update your status, and friends would comment or give “eProps,” the predecessor of facebook’s “like”.

AIM stands for AOL Instant Messenger. It was the one way we could have unmonitored conversations, since most of us understood the internet better than our parents.

HSD stands for Homeschooldebate.com, a forum established to discuss debate, judging, and coaching – but also quickly became home to myriad conversations about anything and everything, from serious to silly.

All three of these became spaces of deep community for me. As I re-read one of my (now private) Xangas recently, I was struck by how normal so much of it seems. I talked about how awesome my friends were, re-hashed tournaments (mostly the social happenings and tournament outcomes), posted inside jokes, and, more often that I care to admit, “meaningful” song lyrics.

It was on my other (secret) Xanga that I remembered the other stuff. There I wrote journal entries – some public, some private, and some protected (only visible to specific readers). I wrote about my faith, reflected critically on the competitiveness of the NCFCA, and processed problems in my family. I wrote about boys, love, belonging, and identity. I wrote about beauty, about pain, about Jesus.

I shared my soul with my friends on that site. They responded with love, support, and friendship. They called me out when I was spiraling. They talked me through my depression, and nursed me through my neglect. They reminded me that I was loved.

I did the same for them. I remember friends thousands of miles away IMing me when they were depressed, on the verge of self-harm. I would send them a song, and we’d talk until they could fall asleep. We dealt with eating disorders, self-harm, depression, anxiety, addiction, and death. We were a rag-tag bunch who were just helping each other survive.

And survive we did. We even managed to have fun. One of my favorite memories of my time in the NCFCA was a tournament held at a university, where I did very well. While usually out-of-towners stayed with other homeschool families, this time, we were allowed to stay in the dorms, without parental supervision. So we stayed up all night, drank artesian root beer, and watched a U2 concert. I held hands with a boy I liked under the couch cushions. We giggled, we ate candy, we made fun of M. Night Shyamalan. I think it’s one of the few times I felt like a teenager.

There are many skills the NCFCA gave me – critical thinking, public speaking, how to argue well, and how to understand all sides of an argument. This online community was its hidden gift. I learned how to share my heart in writing. I learned that big ideas are ok, that asking questions is good. I learned that I was beloved, messy and depressed as I was. I learned about music, and movies, and art. I learned that I didn’t have to win to be loved. I learned that I didn’t always have to be mature beyond my years, that it was ok to be silly. I learned how to listen, and that not every conversation is a debate. I learned how to walk through suffering, and how to ask for help. I learned how to sit with someone in their pain. I learned how to love and be loved, unconditionally.

I work now as a campus pastor – and I remember all of these things, as I sit with people in crisis. My friends in the NCFCA taught me more about love and honesty than anyone else since.

So, I’m taking a minute to celebrate those friends – from Xanga, AIM, and HSD days. It was a beautiful (and I think, sacred) community that we formed. For all we weathered, I’m grateful. It was, strange as it seems, a place of calm, and sanity, in the middle of the storm.

A Brief History of Homeschool Speech and Debate

A Brief History of Homeschool Speech and Debate

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

******

“There is warfare. We are soldiers. We have weapons.”

~Shelley Miller, NCFCA Oregon State Representative, 2013

*****

As we embark on our Resolved: series, you will see a lot of acronyms being thrown around. I figured it would be helpful for those unfamiliar with the homeschool speech and debate world to see a brief summary of what those acronyms mean. The following history of the key organizations and individuals is important to keep in mind as a general context for reading the posts this week.

HSLDA Debate

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) began a homeschool debate league in 1996. Christy Shipe (then Farris), the daughter of HSLDA’s chairman and co-founder Michael Farris, started the league when she was a senior at Cedarville University. The goal of the league, according to Michael, was “to improve your child’s reasoning powers, clarity of thinking, and ability to stand for the truth of God’s word.” Whereas competitive forensics sees the skills of forensics as ends in themselves, homeschool debate sees them as means to a larger end: “to help homeschoolers address life’s issues biblically, with God’s glory, not their own, as the focus.”

The very first national tournament was held in October 1997 at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia. Christy Shipe was the tournament organizer. The debate team from Cedarville, of which Shipe was a part, played a crucial role in the beginning. Deborah Haffey, Cedarville’s debate coach at the time, was influential in Shipe’s love for debate. HSLDA’s original debate teaching materials featured Haffey. And the very first homeschool debate summer camps — as far as I can remember — began at Cedarville, via the university’s Miriam Maddox Forum, led by Haffey, Jonathan Hammond, and later Jeff Motter.The final round of HSLDA’s first national tournament, by the way, took place a separate venue than the rest of the tournament. It occurred at the 1997 National Christian Home Educators Leadership Conference in front of 400 home school leaders from 44 states. It was judged by Michael Farris, Deborah Haffey, and Bob Jones University’s debate coach, Dewitt Jones.

NCFCA

After five years past, the homeschool debate league had grown significantly. HSLDA decided that the league should become a distinct entity from itself. So the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association was created in 2000, co-founded by Christy Shipe and Teresa Moon. The association’s original seven-member board of directors included: Shipe, Moon, Todd Cooper, Michael Farris, Skip Rutledge, Deborah Haffey, and Terry Stollar. NCFCA’s stated goal is “is to train students to be able to engage the culture for Christ.” From the very beginning, NCFCA had a significant amount of in-fighting, resulting in a rapid burning-through of its leaders. Todd Cooper, NCFCA’s original president from San Diego, was booted almost instantaneously. My father, Terry Stollar, became the second president, and resigned after significant disagreements with the board. The first two presidents — as well as Moon, who served as Director of Forensics — all hailed at some point from California, which is interesting considering what I will later mention about “Region 2” and its split from NCFCA. Mike Larimer took over the presidency after my father. Teresa Hudson is NCFCA’s current president.

While debate was primarily the focus when the league was under HSLDA, NCFCA branched out significantly in their more diverse inclusion of speech events. As of today, NCFCA includes two types of debate — Policy and Lincoln-Douglas — as well as a variety of speech categories — biographical narrative, oratory, persuasive, duo interpretations, humorous interpretations, apologetics, extemporaneous, impromptu, and so forth.

CFC/ICC

Crucial to the growth of both HSLDA debate and later NCFCA was Communicators for Christ (CFC). David and Teresa Moon began CFC in 1997. Teresa was also the personal debate coach of many of NCFCA’s original “legends.” In the early days, the Moons traveled around the country, from state to state in their motor home, with a team of student instructors — later termed “interns.” As CFC taught speech and debate to other homeschool parents and students, it served as a “feeder” of sorts into NCFCA.

As CFC’s popularity grew, Teresa expanded CFC’s focus from homeschoolers to Christian schools in general. She refashioned the for-profit CFC into the non-profit Institute for Cultural Communicators (ICC). Today, ICC continues its CFC tours, but also offers “a variety of programs, events and teaching materials designed to help all Christian students, from all educational backgrounds — public, private and home — [to] become ‘cultural communicators’ — people who can impact their culture through excellent communication of the truth.” ICC’s stated goal is “to provide support and guidance to Christian schools, churches, and community education programs as together we train well-rounded communicators.”

A crucial concept about ICC’s goal is embodied in their “Flood the Five” conferences. The premise of these conferences is that only 5% of Americans are “ready” and “willing” to command any sort of public platform. So ICC “is committed to coaching Christian speakers to flood that 5%.”

HSD

HomeschoolDebate.com (HSD) was created by Andrew Bailey, an NCFCA alumni. HSD is an online forum for competitors, alumni, parents, and coaches from all over the country to connect. HA’s Nicholas Ducote was a board administrator on HSD for four years, and also owned the site (after Bailey and McPeak moved on) for two years, from 2007-2009. I myself used HSD significantly to market Plethora, my research book series, from 2001-2005.

HSD features threads on the current year’s debate topics, on homeschool league politics, on ideas for improving debate skills, and — well, and everything else. Some of the most popular threads on HSD in the past had nothing to do with speech or debate. The most popular threads were the “Just For Fun” and “Controversy Corner” threads, where us homeschool kids would argue about everything from free will versus predestination to that year’s presidential candidates. We would also create role-playing games and fictional stories about each other, projecting fellow competitors into soap opera storylines or superhero graphic novel contexts. HSD was, and continues to be, extraordinarily popular. When competitors would actually gather in person at national qualifying tournaments or the national tournament itself, it was always a highlight to meet in person these people you would socialize with digitally for the year prior.

HSD became a microcosm of some of the speech and debate world’s important developments: the promotion of evidence and research books, the promotion of summer camps, the connecting of alumni with current competitors to pass on both competition strategies and life lessons, and a channel for graduates to help younger kids work through questions about faith and humanity. HSD was also the starting place for the Great BJU Protest of 2009.

The Great BJU Protest of 2009

In 2009, NCFCA announced that the National Tournament that year would take place at Bob Jones University. This caused an outcry from many competitors on account of BJU’s extreme legalism and history of institutionalized racism. Some competitors believed the board made a poor decision that could hurt the image of both Christianity as well as homeschooling. This issue was also exacerbated by two other issues: how NCFCA allegedly ignored California’s previous suggestion of Irvine as a location, and how the previous year NCFCA also held a national tournament event at a Shriner’s Temple. Going from a Shriner’s Temple to a place popularly conceived as racist and small-minded infuriated quite a few people. As early as March of 2009, months before the tournament happened, members of HSD were considering how best to address this — some suggesting a boycott of the tournament, others suggesting petitioning the board to change the location, and others suggesting wearing stickers or walking silently out of the opening ceremony when BJU would give their “come to BJU!” talk.

In the end, a petition was sent to NCFCA leadership to change the location. Mike Larimer, then-president of NCFCA, gave what one of the protest’s organizers called “an expected non-response.” But the petition picked up when alumni from all around the country started showing overwhelming support for the protest. (I myself proudly signed the petition, though I was long graduated from the league. Standing up for what you feel is just and right is what this whole training was about!) As support for the petition ballooned, and word got out that protestors were planning a “walk out” of the opening ceremony, the NCFCA regional coordinator of Region 8, Lisa Kays, did something highly controversial. Kays sent an email to all the other regional coordinators. In her email, she demanded (1) that any competitors from her own region that signed the petition must immediately remove their names, and (2) ban anyone that is unwilling to remove their name from competing at the National Tournament.

Yes, you read that right. Lisa Kays, one of the heads of NCFCA leadership and who is now on the board of ICC, wanted to ban people from the National Tournament for speaking up against legalism and racism. As one of the protest’s organizers said at the time, “I am incredibly saddened to see this. This is nothing less than strong arm tactics against a very legitimate and very respectful protest.”

As it turns out, this protest organizer was not the only one who was saddened by this tactic.

STOA

In 2009, after years of strained relationships between the leaders of Region 2 (primarily California) and the national leaders of NCFCA, secession happened. Due to differences in governance philosophy, the structure of tournaments qualifying students for Nationals, and allegedly how certain NCFCA leaders (mis)handled the BJU Protest, California broke from the homeschool forensics union. A new speech and debate league was formed, STOA — which is not an acronym but a reference to ancient Greek architecture. While there are several accounts discussing STOA’s split from NCFCA in 2009, and while the official date is listed everywhere as such, it seems that the original genesis of STOA as an organization began in 2008, as evidenced by STOA’s original blog post dating back to August of that year. This split was announced on HSD in July of 2009 with the title, “California secedes from NCFCA. NO JOKE!”

The original leadership for STOA were Lars Jorgensen, Scott York, Marie Stout, Jeff Schubert, and Dorr Clark. Lars Jorgensen, who was the NCFCA regional coordinator for Region 2 since 2004, was the one who officially announced the split on August 10, 2009. STOA’s goal does not differ significantly from NCFCA’s: “to train Christian homeschooled students in Speech and Debate in order to better communicate a biblical worldview.”

*****

As of today, there are two homeschool speech and debate leagues: NCFCA and STOA. HSLDA continues to sell speech and debate material geared towards these leagues. Many of the original movers and shakers are still involved. Christy Shipe is still on the board of NCFCA. Teresa Moon continues to run CFC and ICC. Lisa Kays, one of the key players attempting to shut down the BJU protest, is on ICC’s board. Scott York continues as president of STOA.

And most curiously, a lot of us competitors who frequented the HSD forums a decade ago still frequent that forum to this day. There’s something about HSD that feels like home.

Life With A Gay Husband: Rachel’s Story

Life With A Gay Husband: Rachel’s Story

"I realized there was no way to fix this. He couldn't be who he was with me, and it wasn't fair to either of us to stay together."
“I realized there was no way to fix this. He couldn’t be who he was with me, and it wasn’t fair to either of us to stay together.”

I grew up as the oldest of ten children. My parents were a part of ATI and the Quiverfull movement. My father was very controlling and my mother was neglectful and withdrew herself. We had to ask my father to go anywhere. He would say to clean something or weed the garden first and then he would say no many times.

I was the “second mom” the one who listened to what my dad said and took care of the house, the other kids, stayed home as a highschooler to cook dinner while the younger kids got to play sports. I had a really good guy friend who was the oldest of ten children himself and also played the violin. We used to write to each other all the time until the letters just stopped. This guy, Jacob, would give me butterflies and make my hands sweaty and I would dream of being with him. My mom came to me and said that we were the oldest kids, so a relationship would just not work. I was confused what she meant. But, I continued to “wait” for him.

Then, at the age of 19, I went to EXCEL, which I paid for by babysitting. There, I sought God each day and somehow ended up with the exact opposite beliefs as I was taught. There, I cut my long hair, stopped wearing skirts all the time, stopped arguing with everyone, decided I needed to go to college to become a nurse and I decided I was done with waiting for Jacob. I came home and signed up to start classes. I also looked for a job, which I got in a deli.

My parents were supportive until I actually started classes and then it was, “Rachel, come home and watch the kids,” and, “Rachel, come and take the kids to their games.”  I, being a girl who did give everything to god and believing I had to obey my dad, would, but this jeopardized my grades. Here I am, a girl who has no understanding of any of my classes (all I knew how to do was read really well and basic math; I didn’t even know how to write a paper), looks very strange in mostly skirts, and thinking about sex all the time.

Then Ben entered my life.

A friend of mine told me of a homeschool debate site. I decided to join and decided to have a “gender neutral” name of “His child.” There was a guy there who wanted someone to do a bible study with him. I knew instantly that he was suicidal and I had to do it. So, I led a bible study and he eventually started asking me questions about myself.

We talked for an entire year before he decided to come to WA state to work at a camp and meet me. His parents tried to prevent him, since they ran a camp themselves, but then they found out the reason was there was a girl there and they excitedly let him go. He got me a job there as a store manager. I worked it out with my deli manager so that I could do it for the summer, but my father put his foot down and refused to let me do it. I had told him about Ben several months before which made him pretty upset. He unplugged the internet many times so I couldn’t talk to him.

I obeyed my father and did not go to camp. I picked him up at the airport with my parents and a very talkative me. But he was lost for words. The poor guy was so nervous and just grunted all the time. My father and I dropped him off at camp and my dad said, “Oh, you should exchange numbers.”  We hadn’t even talked to each other on the phone at this point. We started to have phone calls during which I talked a lot and he said nothing.

I saw him again during that summer when he had a weekend break. He played with my siblings and this is when I knew that I would marry him. He had already told me I was the girl for him before I met him. I thought he was smoking hot and very excited that a guy this attractive would be interested in me. I was sad to see him go home on the final meeting when we dropped him off at the airport.

My father, realizing that I liked this guy, put a lot of pressure on me to get him to ask permission to court me. So, I did and Ben called up my dad and asked his permission to court. I got in front of our church and announced with my father that I was courting, which in my group of people meant we were getting married. We continued talking on the phone (which was awkward for us cause he barely talked) and mostly talking online.

Six months later, he flew to see me again. We were ready to hold hands and cuddle which freaked out my parents. My father gave him 50 questions to answer by hand and said we could not talk until it was finished. I was supposed to go and work at his family’s camp as a cook for that summer. This was his reaction to that. Instead, I threw myself into working 80 hours a week. Eventually, he finished the questions over that summer. I decided I should do nursing down in Mississippi because I could take a test and get into the program. (I struggled a lot with school because my father was constantly trying to get me to come home and babysit my siblings or take them to practice and I was balancing working full time and taking classes for which I had zero knowledge, so my grades weren’t that good). Extra bonus was that I was two hours away from him.

Our plan was that I would stay there six months and we would get married and I would go to nursing school on the same campus as his seminary. We spent a few hours together in person every other weekend or so.

Finally, it came to the wedding.

Our first kiss was at the wedding alter. Bad idea… I had no idea how awkward that would be and how it just felt…wrong, like it was meant to be shared in private. Then of course, to go further, my husband was incredibly scared and nervous. I thought the bride was supposed to be the nervous one!

It puzzled me why he seemed never to want to have sex. I thought this would be a phase, but it wasn’t. This went on for years — in fact, our entire marriage.

I had always heard that men liked a woman’s body, that it turned them on. I tried that.

It didn’t work.

We talked about this and both came to the conclusion that it was cause he was a lifeguard for years and was just used to seeing almost naked bodies. He always seemed depressed about everything. He would withdraw and not talk to me or even seem to want to be around me. This would frustrate me but I was busy with work and school. I just gave him space and hoped he would show interest in me. I worked hard to try to please him and to try to motivate him. But, he always seemed unhappy, no matter what we tried.

I put my energy in trying to become pregnant. (Believe me, that took a lot of work!). We had our child and I — doing what every other mother I knew did — stayed home with him. Our problems became stronger since now I had nothing to distract me, no school or work. We were trying to become missionaries. He got ordained and we were in the application process. I was highly involved at our church.

He seemed to withdraw yet again, like he didn’t want to do it.

I had been talking to my best friend who had just come out to me. She described how she felt — in a marriage with a man — being gay herself. I asked a lot of questions and realized she sounded exactly like my husband! I approached him and asked him if he was attracted to men. He said he was but tried not to think about it.

Everything made sense!

He was repressing who he was, which was causing the depression and the withdrawing. This is why nothing seemed to work or motivate him. We continued on, wondering what we should do next. He had already been having issues with god for years but also tried to ignore that as well. I began to question the bible as well. If it is wrong about homosexuality, what else is wrong with it?

I realized it was incredibly cruel to expect a homosexual person to either be single or to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. I know what that is like. This led to a spiraling amount of questions which I could not find answers to. I guess this was important to me being able to leave the marriage — and then divorce.

A couple months later, I realized there was no way to fix this. He couldn’t be who he was with me, and it wasn’t fair to either of us to stay together. So, the next six months, we made plans to separate and help each other be financially stable.

We are still friends, share custody of our son and live about a mile and a half apart.