Husband and wife come out after keeping sexuality secret for 30 YEARS

Husband and wife who BOTH admitted they were gay just years after marrying reveal they kept their sexuality secret from strict religious families for 30 YEARS while raising two kids and masquerading as the perfect ‘all-American’ couple

  • Brad and Cyndi Marler, both in their late 50s, revealed to each other that they were both gay a few years after they got married
  • But instead of splitting up, they decided to stay together and keep it a secret from the world
  • They raised two kids together – a son and a daughter – in the small Illinois towns of Smithton and Freeburg
  • Now, after living what they call ‘the all-American life’ for more than 30 years, they have decided it is time to ‘live authentically’ and have come out
  • They explained that the reason they kept their sexuality hidden from the public for so long was because they both grew up in religious households

A lot can be hidden behind a marriage. For Brad and Cyndi Marler, it was that they are both gay.

A few years after their wedding, they told each other their secret. Then, for more than three decades, they told no one else.

‘We always said it was us against the world,’ Brad said.

After living what they call ‘the all-American life’ in the small Illinois towns of Smithton and Freeburg for more than 30 years, the Marlers, now both in their late 50s, finally decided it was time to ‘live authentically.’

They have now come out to their two adult children – a son and a daughter – and are navigating new lives in Chicago.

Cyndi and Brad Marler told each other that they were gay a few years after they got married. But they decided to stay together and keep it a secret from the world

The couple – who are now in their late 50s – tied the knot 32 years ago, however they both came out to one another just a few years after their wedding 

They raised two kids together – a son and a daughter (pictured) – but they have decided it is time to ‘live-authentically’ and have come out

Having grown up in religious households in small Illinois communities, coming out wasn’t an option for the Marlers, who celebrated 32 years of marriage in September.

‘Being homosexual, you’re just going to go straight to Hell. There’s no two ways to it,’ Cyndi said of what she and Brad were taught.

Even as strides were made nationally for gay rights, the Marlers feared being found out. They built homes, raised their kids and never strayed from their marriage.

In public, they were sure to maintain traditional gender roles: Cyndi kept her hair long, and they never mentioned that Brad was the one who decorated their house.

‘We wanted the house, the dog, the two kids – and we did all of that,’ Cyndi explained.

‘We made a decision to make it work. This was what we were going to do.’

But there came a limit. Unfortunately, Brad had become deeply depressed and began working on his internalized homophobia with the help of weekly therapy.

‘For such a long time, I hated that part of me… I didn´t understand why what I had with Cyndi wasn´t enough,’ he said.

The couple also said they never would have been able to come out if their parents were still alive.

Brad noted that the shame he associated with his sexuality was triggered after his mother confronted him when he was 16 about the possibility of being gay.

‘She just said, “If you are, that´s not OK. You´re not going to do this to the family.” … We never spoke about it again,’ he recalled.

Another big factor was that their daughter came out as a lesbian.

‘It was the overwhelming need to protect her,’ Brad said.

Even though the Marlers now live separately, they have no immediate plans to divorce and still see each other almost daily. ‘We´re still best friends,’ Cyndi said 

The Marlers lived together until March when, having retired and sold their home, they moved into separate apartments in Chicago to explore life as part of the LGBTQ community for the first time.

Brad describes the change as going through a second adolescence.

‘Everything is new,’ he said.

Cyndi is focusing on figuring out herself before pursuing a relationship with a woman.

Cyndi is focusing on figuring out herself before pursuing a relationship with a woman.

‘It´s like taking this filter off and asking myself, “What am I?”‘ she said.

Even though the Marlers now live separately, they have no immediate plans to divorce and still see each other almost daily.

‘We´re still best friends,’ Cyndi said.

And despite some struggles, they believe things have improved for them.

‘Our whole dynamic is better now,’ Brad said.

Their daughter recently wrote her parents each a letter about the experience.

‘She wrote that she was happy to see that I´m happy,’ Brad said. 

While research from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy shows that people in the U.S. are coming out at a younger age than previous generations, Brad and Cyndi are part of a segment of the LGBTQ community that waits until later in life.

‘Society is still inhospitable. That´s not to deny so many amazing shifts in public attitudes, in laws, in policies, but it did not wash away a hundred years of homophobia in society,’ said Ilan Meyer, a distinguished senior scholar of public policy with the Williams Institute.

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