Kevin and Sam, though, are glad they were able to get a real, publicly accountable divorce. (It was granted on January 16—but because they forgot to undo their domestic partnership in Tucson, they may still be legally connected there.) “Divorce gave us a clearer path than we’d have had otherwise,” says Kevin. Even so, Sam doesn’t want to leave the impression that it was, in the end, “all rainbows and unicorns.” “It made the legal part easier,” he says. “The breakup part was just as bad as breakups always are.”
Worse, in a way: Kevin says he hung on to the marriage those last few years—despite urgings from members of a therapy group he attended—in part because of “having worked so hard to get marriage in the first place.” Sam, too, was troubled by the signal it might send for gay spouses to divorce, and as such was deeply relieved to learn that they would not be among the first. Even the Goodridges, having separated two years after their marriage and gotten their decree in 2009, beat them to it.
Still, their divorce felt a bit shameful to them and was disappointing or confusing to others. Sam’s mother, whom he was too embarrassed to tell, was hurt to find out about it on Facebook. And when he was ready to move on, Sam was surprised to find no support groups or clubs for gay divorcés, as there are for straight ones. “It’s really just: Start dating again,” he says. Even then, if he mentioned over dinner that he was getting divorced, his date’s response would often be an incredulous “From a woman?”
Though each man now has a new steady boyfriend, the conflict and sense of loss survive in odd ways. Kevin ended up de-friending 150 people on his Facebook account, feeling they were more Sam’s property than his. When he moved, Sam found among his belongings the tape of Kevin at age 12 speaking to himself in the future; he has not returned it. And when Kevin recently saw Sam out of the corner of his eye in a busy corridor between subways at Atlantic Avenue station, he made no effort to communicate. “He was going one way,” Kevin says, tearing up, “and I was going another.”