*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
A TikToker spreading awareness about dishonesty as a formerly closeted man talked about the time his ex-wife caught him cheating with another guy three weeks into their marriage.
In the viral video about his past illicit affair, TikToker Abe–a.k.a. @comingofabe–prefaced his storytime with a caption explaining that the clip was made for "closeted gay men who are on the doorsteps of doing something very similar to their girlfriends or wives."
The former Evangelical Christian continued:
"This is only for them and for the people who want to understand a little more about how a person winds up doing something so dishonest and harmful."
"I have apologized to my ex-wife, of course, but i still inflicted massive amounts of harm on her and that is wrong no matter which way you spin it."
"But its also common. So im voicing it. Naming it. And trying to help end this harmful situation."
You can watch the video, here.
He started addressing his intended audience by saying:
"When you get married to a woman even though you know you're gay, you're destined to do some pretty stupid and harmful things to not only her, but to you and all the people involved, too."
"In his last semester of college and six months before marrying his then-fiancé, Abe started chatting with a guy he met on Chatroulette."
"I didn't think it'd amount to anything," he said.
"I was raised [in a] super conservative [religion], so I'd never allow myself to date a man. I figured, 'What could go wrong?'"
Abe said that he "accidentally fell in love with him because I'd never dated a man before."
He continued the affair for several months and still proceeded with the wedding.
However, his then-wife found out about what was going on three weeks after their nuptials.
"I was in my biochemistry course when I got 11 missed phone calls from my wife," he said.
"She didn't leave any voicemails or send any texts. I immediately knew what was wrong. I'm going to call her back, so I go outside the building, and she was right there."
Abe said she discovered the affair after seeing his open Skype chat with the guy on his open computer.
"She saw our chat history and everything, three weeks into our marriage. That's how she found out I was gay," he recalled before admitting:
"I don't think what I did was right. I don't think it was good. And that's why I'm talking about this."
"I'm trying to help people who think they might be able to do the same thing realize that they can't."
Some TikTokers admired him for his transparency.
While others who couldn't relate to his situation empathized more with the ex-wife who was innocent in all of this.
He posted a follow-up video in response to a TikToker who wrote:
"You lived a lie and your wife paid the price! She will be damaged the rest of her life."
"But as long as you're happy...right?!!"
In response, Abe discussed his ongoing battle with mental health issues to explain why his life hasn't exactly been so peachy since his secret was uncovered.
He touched on his negative experience with religion that led him to marrying a woman even though it went against his natural inclination.
"It was either [accept] that I'm gay and lose everything, or walk down the aisle, get married, and gain all the happiness in the world. That's what my religion taught me."
"I was promised a fulfilled life, a family, and all that other shit if I just did what I was supposed to. So I did."
"I did that all the way up until the point when I got married, and it destroyed me. It ruined me."
TikToker @user5767407123806 expressed empathy.
"I can speak on this because this is my story with my ex-husband," she said, adding, "I forgave him and I honestly blame society and religion that made him feel like he had to hide who he truly was more than I blame him."
"Obviously he had to take some responsibility too but it’s so complex. He is finally starting to come out and I am his biggest supporter."
"I don’t want him to have to suffer anymore. Keep speaking up because this is more common than people realize!"
In spite of a lot of negative comments, more supporters appeared to overpower the thread.
Talking to Buzzfeed about his struggles, he emphasized that he didn't view himself as a victim.
"I'm telling you all so clearly that I did something really bad. I messed up. As a 19-year-old, I got engaged to a woman. I f'ked up."
"Everything about my world was shaped in a way to avoid or block out the existence of any possibility that I could ever be gay, or that anybody is actually gay."
"In my upbringing, you were not actually gay — you were just sinning. You hear that from your parents, pastors, friends, and your friends' parents — there's no safe space to be gay."
"This fundamental thing about my identity and my existence was erased."
"I knew since I was 7 years old that I felt a certain way about other guys," he continued.
"I was so young and being taught the fundamentals of what was 'good' and 'evil' according to my church. So, I knew at that age that something about me was 'bad.'"
Now, ten years after the divorce, Abe has started a new chapter in his life by moving to another city and living as an out, gay man.
He also shared how he was been processing all the changes in his life.
"Therapy, in many ways, brought me out of a place of not even being able to set out on a path of how to identify myself."
"All I knew was how to be what other people needed. I was raised from birth until my early 20s in church. Looking back, I spent a lot of those years in survival mode."
"I learned these very traumatic ways to have no agency or voice, for the approval of my parents, teachers, coaches, and pastors — people who were my safeguards."
"Now therapy is teaching me how to have a voice again."
Abe said he and his ex-wife have periodically been in touch since their separation, but it has taken a few years to get to this point.
"Talking to her helped me release a lot of the shame I still held onto. I did love her," he told the media outlet.
"I grew up with her through high school and college. I cared for her very, very deeply. There's a reason why I was honest with her about literally everything else but my sexuality."
"The sad thing is that if I had come out to her in high school, she would have been a safe person to come out to."
"We probably would have had a beautiful friendship, and things would have been so different."
Abe discussed the repercussions of being so open with his video posts and the ongoing discussion that continues in the comment threads.
He told Buzzfeed:
"I didn't know people were interested, but I realized that there were so many people out there who have gone through the same thing as me."
"There are also so many people, still, that are on the brink of doing the same thing that I did. That was shocking."
"It's been years since I came out — I forget how brainwashed I was in that culture and religion."
In another video, Abe encouraged those who are apprehensive to be open and live their truth but only if they're ready.
"I know that all that’s really happening here is that my voice is getting louder and louder and louder."
"I know now that there are more people than I was ever aware of that need to hear this, that need someone to understand what they went through. And if that’s you: You’re absolutely not alone."
"Please, listen to your heart. And if it’s not safe for you to come out yet, then don’t come out yet. But you’re going to be able to one day. Because you just will…I know you will."
"And if you don’t think that’s possible, then fine. But give yourself some grace."
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel