Steven Bloom was married for almost 20 years.
He and his wife have two teenage daughters.
And he is gay.
At the age of 45, Steven made the life-changing decision to come out. To his wife, to his kids, to his family and to the world.
Now President of the Gay and Married Men’s Association support group, he told Mamamia he “sort of” knew he was gay all along.
“I was in a huge state of denial, if you like,” Steven, now 50, said.
“Growing up in 70s, all I knew about being gay was people being bashed up or people dressing up in drag – and neither of those things I identified with at all.
“You learn that society expects you to find a girlfriend, get married and have a family, so that’s what I wanted. And it made sense to me. I met a girl, a wonderful woman, and genuinely fell in love and I thought that any of these desires I had would go away and love would conquer all. And it did for a while.
“But more and more those desires become quite difficult to manage and ultimately caused me to get quite depressed. Our marriage was very good and even things in the bedroom were also very good – there were never any problems at all. I was able to please my wife with great satisfaction, as far as I could tell (at least that’s what she tells me). But there was still this other side of me that I was denying or suppressing.
“I’d always said to her that if anything happened between us, I’d never get married again – and that was kind of a subliminal hint that there was something else going on.
“One day she turned around and asked me… ‘Are you gay?’ It took me a few seconds to think about it, and watch my life flash before my eyes, and I decided that I would say, ‘Yes, I think I am,’ and promptly burst into tears.”
Steven said he had become depressed and was seeing a psychologist for about three years before he came out.
“By the time she asked me, I’d gotten to the point where I’d begun to accept myself and my sexuality.”
He said his wife, Natanya, “took it incredibly well, admirably so”.
“She said she suspected it from the beginning. We both went into the relationship knowing maybe there was something not quite right with at least one of us, but again thinking love will conquer all,” he said.
Steven said his daughters – then nine and 11 – took a couple of weeks to adjust to the news. He said his eldest later said: “I’m really lucky because I’m going to have three dads.”
Both Steven and his ex-wife have re-partnered and had a great relationship, even spending family holidays together with their kids and partners, he said.
His parents and extended family were also incredibly supportive.
“My big fear of being castigated by my folks didn’t happen, and I have to say with my whole experience of coming out, where I really thought my whole world would implode and I would have nothing and no one left, none of that happened,” he said.
Steven, his wife and his daughters shared their story with SBS2’s The Feed. Watch a preview here:
Steven said even if he could turn back time, he wouldn’t do things differently.
“I don’t regret having children. I love my kids, I had a great life with my ex-wife, I have nothing to complain about. All those experiences that I’ve been through, that’s what makes me up. I would not want to rewrite history – it is what it is. I don’t regret any of it. The struggle really was not having the confidence to be me and express who I was and not worry about what other people thought,” Steven said.
His advice to others in a similar situation was to “be brutally honest” with themselves, or risk their mental health and happiness.
“There’s this idea of being selfless – I got married and made a contract with somebody to spend the rest of my life with them, how can I run away from them and the social responsibility of it? But at some point you’ve got to let that go and say, ‘Well, this is killing me’. And I’m doing my wife a favour by now being honest with her,” he said.
“All the decisions I made in my marriage were right at time. There was real love there, it was the truth at the time, but other things started to get in the way. And that’s the challenge for guys like me. Accepting that yes, you’re breaking up the family and you’re going to hurt somebody, but in the end, you’re actually setting them free and allowing them to get something better for themselves.”
For more on Steven’s story, watch THE FEED tonight at 7.30pm on SBS2.