Search form

Scroll To Top
coming out

After being outed, Us the Duo's Carissa Rae Martin is ready to speak her truth—on her own terms

After being outed, Us the Duo's Carissa Rae Martin is ready to speak her truth—on her own terms

Carissa Rae Martin
Zac Poor

In a personal op-ed for Out, the singer is ready to share her story about coming to terms with her queerness and reclaiming her power after it was taken from her.

In March, Carissa Rae Martin and Michael Alvarado — partners in marriage and the folk pop band Us the Duo since 2012 — announced they had divorced. Earlier this month, Alvarado released an album, The Five Stages, about the end of the relationship, which included the track “Homewrecker.” Below is an op-ed from Martin in response.

Coming out should have been a sacred process. Something that should have been on my own terms. But that was ripped away from me. It was one thing to be outed to my friends and family, but to be outed publicly through a song for personal gain and promotion? Absolutely sickening. It's time to share my truth. Let's take it back to the beginning…

I was engaged at 20 and married by 21. My then-husband and I started doing music together almost immediately. We created Us the Duo and the image of the "perfect couple," which was easy to do on social media, since it's all just a highlight reel. But people have no idea how far from perfect our relationship was.

Carissa Rae Martin

Zac Poor

I had been a chronic people pleaser my entire life, which made it easy for my partner to be in control. I asked for permission and approval on every little thing. I felt incredibly small and, with each year, I'd lose a little piece of myself. I gave up things that I loved and didn't hang out with friends as much as I wanted to. I won't deny we had many incredible moments together, but the facade we created online caused strain on our relationship and an immense pressure that only few could understand. I felt more like a prop — just a part of the image. And after I had my daughter, my biggest blessing in all of this, postpartum depression hit me hard and I didn't even recognize who I was anymore.

Not a single person knew what I was feeling or going through because we made an agreement to never speak negatively about each other... not even to friends or family. It took me a while to realize that there is a difference between talking negatively about someone and covering for them. This ate away at me inside and I never felt more alone.

I started therapy early on, where I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and now I understand the root of it all. From there, I was on a mission to discover and heal my true self. With each healing step, I got more in touch with the real me. Part of those steps was pursuing creative passions outside of Us the Duo, which wasn't always encouraged by him, and it created an environment where I didn't have the confidence to do anything else. But the more I became myself, the less I became someone who could be controlled and emotionally manipulated to stay small. In the midst of it all, I suggested we go to marriage counseling and we did, but the truth is that all of this trauma led to me falling out of love with him many years ago.

Carissa Rae Martin

Zac Poor

Using my talents again healed something within me. I felt empowered and through dance, acting classes, and collaborating with other encouraging creatives, I was stepping into myself and rediscovering what brings me true joy in life. With that came mentally unpacking my sexuality. It was something I hadn't had the chance to ever explore before. I hardly allowed myself to even think about it because of fear. Fear of disappointing or hurting others… my family, my partner, the fans. Fear of losing our career, which was based solely off of this picture-perfect image. But fear alone is what kept me locked into a relationship that really wasn't good for either of us.

So I decided to finally reclaim my power and choose myself over worrying about what people think. I could no longer ignore the fact that I am queer, and it was the final push I needed to muster up the courage to leave a toxic relationship. I believe in love and commitment, but it should never be at the expense of who you are. The person you choose when you're broken isn't the same one you choose when you're whole. I developed romantic feelings for a woman who is one of my best friends, and I asked for a divorce. She has been a very supportive friend from the start, and neither of us ever saw this coming, but I am so grateful it did.

It's unfortunate that the main concern he seemed to show in all of this was for his own image. Even now, he makes daily attempts to reinforce his narrative and paint an inaccurate picture that I was stolen away by a queer woman instead of owning up to his role in our marriage ending. I wanted this to be private — it should be nobody else's business — but when he chose to speak for me against my will, I chose to take my voice back. I will no longer allow myself to hurt in silence in order to make others feel more comfortable. I'm not the woman he married 12 years ago, nor should I be. We're supposed to evolve, and it comes down to deciding if we want to grow together or grow separately. In my case, I was growing in a very different direction and I no longer fit into the perfect mold that we created over a decade ago.

Carissa Rae Martin

Zac Poor

Since I was outed by him, many so-called friends turned their backs on me. Perhaps it's because they believed his narrative or because they were more focused on how being friends with me would affect their own image. It's been painful, but on the other side, I've found people who are really for me and love me as I am. My group is smaller, but it's real, and my family has been my rock through all of this. I can't control what people say or think about me or what kind of lies are being spewed, but I find peace in knowing that I finally get to live my truth and be my most authentic happy self. And that's something worth celebrating. Being myself in chaos is far better than being a muted version of myself in seemingly perfect circumstances.

My daughter will always be my priority, and I want her to see her mom stand up for herself. I want her to learn to be brave and find comfort in knowing that she can be whoever she wants, love whomever she wants, and that her mama will always have her back and be there to support her with grace no matter what. I've always dreamed of being a mother, and she is my literal dream come true. I will continue to be present with her and love her well, like I have since the day she was born.

There is life outside of social media. I look forward to living it and finding happiness IRL for the first time in years. So much of my entire relationship and career has been shared online for the world to watch under a microscope. I'm excited to finally have the opportunity to keep my personal life personal, including my time with my daughter. The pictures and videos I take of her get to be just for us to look back on and remember our beautiful memories together.

Carissa Rae Martin

Zac Poor

This is my life. I'm a real imperfect human being like you, not just some fake character you see online. I'm not trying to sell you anything here or capitalize off of these very personal circumstances, so please respect my privacy, and I encourage you to focus on finding your own happiness. I promise it's worth it! Plus, there are far more important things going on in the world to be focusing on than my personal life.

So I'd like to reclaim my coming out and properly reintroduce myself. I'm Carissa Rae Martin and I am proud to be queer. To any queer people out there who feel misunderstood or betrayed, nobody should be punished for being themselves. I see you and I'm sending love and radiance your way always.

Thank you to my friends, family, and therapist, who have stood and continue to stand by my side while I rebuild myself. You know who you are and I love you!

xo,

Carissa

Carissa Rae Martin

Zac Poor

Image Credits

Photographer: Zac Poor (@zacpoor)

Stylist: Zac Poor

Hair and makeup: Corky Dutch (@corkydutch)

All views expressed in this op-ed are the author's own.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Carissa Rae Martin