'We still love each other': meet the man who came out after 20 years of marriage
Steven and Natayna Bloom had been married for nearly 20 years when Steven realised he was gay. What followed was a difficult transition involving telling their children, separating, and coming to terms with his identity.
Mrs Bloom said she had often wondered about her husband's sexuality. "I always thought that he would probably come out as gay at some point," she said. "But I still loved him and we had a fabulous relationship and I was prepared to take the risk."
"We were grappling with the sexuality side of things from probably 10 years of marriage onwards. It was very difficult and I was never game enough to throw it out there - ‘look, do you think you’re gay’ - but [I was] thinking that all the time."
Mr Bloom said the thought of what he could lose kept him from coming out earlier in their relationship. "I wanted to tell her earlier but I didn’t know what it meant and I didn’t know what would happen," he said.
"My wife was very supportive. It didn’t mean she wasn’t upset or even angry at times. But it meant she had an understanding, she had some empathy and I’m very lucky in that respect. Through my teens I think I probably knew that I was gay, but I don’t think I really knew what that meant. Acceptance meant not being gay, so that’s what I tried to do."
For both of them, the hardest part about Mr Bloom's coming out was telling their two children Zoe and Tessa, aged nine and 11 at the time. Tessa said it was hard for her to understand at the time.
"I burst into tears," she said. "It was hard and confusing because they still loved each other and I was confused why they couldn’t still live with each other."
"It was a hard concept to understand that two men can love each other or two women. I accepted it because that’s just who my dad is and I still love him."
Zoe said she was glad her parents told her the real reason her father was leaving, even though she thought she was probably too young at the time. "I’ve discovered more about different sexualities – what they are, what they mean – so I’m more of an open person towards that," she said.
"I was very careful to make sure they understood I wasn’t leaving forever - that I would be around and I would still be part of their lives, that I loved them and it wasn’t about them," Mr Bloom said.
But both Mr and Mrs Bloom believe they have changed for the better. "We still love each other, we still like to spend time with each other," Mr Bloom said.
"The way I see it I gave her the opportunity to go out and find that extra something that was missing in her life and likewise she gave that to me. I definitely feel it was an opportunity for both of us to go out and be genuine people and be true to ourselves," Mr Bloom said.
Both of them are now in new relationships - Mrs Bloom is engaged to be married to her new partner Gary while Mr Bloom lives with his partner Jason. He is also the president of the Gay and Married Men’s Association, which provides support to other married men coming to terms with their sexuality.
"We hold meetings twice a month," he said. "We’re a support group for men who are coming to terms with their same-sex attractions. Most of the men have been married somewhere between 15 and 20 years and it's very hard to go to that first meeting."
Mr Bloom said while coming out was painful for him and his family, it was important for him to be honest about who he was.
"Be honest. Just be yourself for a change. And really, that will change your life." This article was published here.