Some in LGBT Community Afraid to Part Ways After Years of Fighting to Tie the Knot

Getting a divorce is never easy, but in the LGBT community, there is an added pressure to stay together. In NY1's latest Pride Week report, Ruschell Boone has more on why some people are afraid to part ways after years of fighting to tie the knot.

Richard Oceguera is about to start a new life in San Diego.

The business development coach was only planning to live in the city for two years when he moved here in 1998, but he met a man and fell in love and got married. They're no longer together, but their wedding made news in 2004.

"When it became legal to get married in Massachusetts, we ran over there and did that in Province Town," Oceguera says.

The couple was very vocal in the fight for marriage equality here in New York, which became a reality in 2011. But a year later, their union fell apart. They remain great friends, but the split was not well received by many in the community.

"I think there is a lot of pressure that now that we fought so hard to get same-sex marriage, how dare you get divorced. Who are you to do that and ruin it, right?" Oceguera says. "And we did deal a bit with that."

But not everyone can ignore the whispers and follow their heart. Damon Jacobs is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He says his clientele has increased significantly since same-sex marriage became legal in New York.

"There is pressure on many gays and lesbians to be 'the good gay,'" Jacobs says. "To assimilate. To fit in. To set a good example. To be a good role model."

That pressure is creating serious conflicts in many relationships.

"If we could take out the stigma and the shame and the guilt, then we can start to go through the process of a divorce or a separation in a way that remains very respectful," Jacobs says.

But that process can often leave people feeling alienated.

"Marriage equality is still very new in some areas, and it still hasn't passed in other areas. So you don't really have this extended network of married friends the way a lot of our heterosexual counterparts do," Jacobs says.

Lucky for Oceguera, his friends and his ex were a great support system.

"We did have support, and we also had some people who were scratching their heads," he says.

He's now looking forward to a new life and maybe even getting married again in the future. 

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