Exclusive! DesignSponge Founder Grace Bonney On Coming Out As Gay

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"I thought I'd totally lose everybody. That was terrifying."

YT: Were you open to your ex-husband during your divorce?

Grace: Yeah, that was why we split. I told him. He said that maybe I was bisexual and suggested couples therapy. He said he'd be totally okay if I was bi and that we could work through it. He said maybe there was a situation we could work out. Honestly, I couldn't expect that he'd be that supportive. We spent some time apart. I moved to Portland and dated around but didn't tell anyone what was happening. I realized it wasn't a phase. I came home, and we filed. That was kind of it.

YT: Did he ever suspect?

Grace: No. The funny thing is I always worried he was gay. I was totally projecting onto him for years. It was always my biggest fear that I would marry someone who turned out to be gay. I never knew why I was so obsessed with that, but it's because I'm that person.

YT: What was your breaking point? When did you realize you had to come out?

Grace: I told myself my whole life I just wanted to make out with girls and that was totally normal, but then I fell for someone. I actually wanted to sleep with her. I didn't want to just kiss her. It brought out a whole side of my personality that I thought had died. I always tried to be into that part of dating guys, but it never worked for me. I thought that was normal. I thought everyone who was married didn't really enjoy their sex lives.

YT: Aaron was managing the business aspects of DesignSponge for a long time. Does he still do that?

Grace: He’s still consulting with us. He has another job and travels for that, so he doesn't really live in New York. We still feel fine to talk to each other. We obviously don't hang out like we used to. I know other people who went through the same thing, and I feel really lucky that we can still kind of be friends and work together and support each other and not hate each other.

YT: Has he experienced criticism with the public announcement?

Grace: If he has, he hasn't told me about it. We don't really talk about that stuff too much. We try to be supportive of each other, but there's a line we don't cross. We don't talk about those things because we're not that close anymore.

YT: Do you ever think it would be easier if you could just go back to being married?

Grace: No because it was so hard for me for the last twenty years. I tried every waking moment of my life to not be myself. I'd exhausted every supply I had to internally manage that. There was nothing left anymore. I'm just really happy to be out.

YT: Has coming out changed you, other than just whom you can publicly date?

Grace: Going through what I went though made me a more empathetic human being. The nature of what I do plays on my natural tendency to judge things and decide if I like them. I applied that to people too quickly. I had so much inner hate for myself and had to learn to give myself a break. It's like a giant wall falling down. I decided to be this way with everyone. You never know what someone else is dealing with. I've been reaching out to people I know are going through hard times. It's made me more understanding. I was too quick to judge before.

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