A wall closet in a residential house in the Un...

A wall closet in a residential house in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently wrote a piece on the John Travolta sex scandal.   What surprised me more than anything were the comments condemning me for having disdain for “The Closet“.   I am not shocked by any comment as  I get all sorts of negative comments, some vicious, some personal attacks and some that are just downright baffling.  It really takes all kinds in the comment section of a Huffington Post piece! 🙂  In most examples people just project their own agenda or perspective on to my articles no matter what I have written.  In some cases they even put words into my mouth, or proclaim that I am making blanket statements when I am not.

But the comments that really floored me were in defense of a life lived inside “The Closet”.   One commenter got so worked up he referred to me as a bigot.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a bigot is the following

Bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I guess he might be right to a point, as I don’t really like liars.  I don’t know if I would say I treat them with hatred and intolerance, but I think adults are accountable for their actions.  If someone wants to hide their sexual orientation, it’s their right, but the minute they mislead someone else to keep their secret – they tend to lose my sympathy.

My critic didn’t mention anything about gay men and women marrying straight partners under false pretenses.  He was more upset that I had dared to say I had disdain for “The Closet”.  He claimed since I was openly criticizing those who choose to live a secret life, I was adding yet another stigma for gay men and women.  It was difficult to wrap my brain around this logic.  For instance if a gay man is living as a straight man, he has to lie to pretty much everyone in his life to keep up the illusion.  I also not sure what kind of intimate relationships a closeted person could have, if they tell no one about their sexual orientation.

In my piece I never advocated for forcibly “outing” anyone.  I mainly stated repeatedly that it is a shame that anyone would have to live in that personal hell.   And by hiding their true nature, closeted homosexuals are hurting the gay rights movement at large, to quote the late gay rights advocate Harvey Milk

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene. – source wikiquote

If every homosexual were out and proud, the harassment and discrimination would lessen, because nearly everyone would discover they have a close friend, co-worker, neighbor even family member who is gay.   If every homosexual were out and proud it would be obvious to everyone in the straight community that there are gays and lesbians in every facet of our lives, every occupation, every race, every religion and every socioeconomic level.

Many compare the civil rights movement to the current struggle for gay rights.  The obvious difference being that a black man or woman cannot pretend they are white.  They cannot for a moment hide their skin color.   They cannot simply marry a white person and try to pass as Caucasian.  They can’t live a sham life and then decide to live as black on the weekends, or go to black bars under an assumed name.   They can’t log onto a black website and to try to find other blacks to hang out with and secretly be black when it is convenient for them.  So although the struggles for racial equality and sexual orientation equality are similar that difference is pretty fundamental.  In fact, if gays had no option of hiding, would their movement be further along by now?  It is difficult to say as there are so many other factors that contribute to homophobia, but most other oppressed groups do not have the same form of “Closet” in which to hide.

Of course “The Closet” is subjective.  A gay person could tell their close friends but not their co-workers.  Or they could tell most of their family but maybe not announce it to their 92-year-old grandmother.   Of course not all aspects of a person’s personal life have to be so public, but any intimate partner should not be misled.

There are also examples of people who simply live their lives blatant and in the open but without ever really coming out and announcing their sexual orientation.  I can think of any number of celebrities that have lived with a same-sex partner, never declaring their orientation but never using a straight person as a cover.  It is as if they are in the closet but with the door open, everyone pretty much knows they are gay but they don’t make an issue out of it.  I know this frustrates some in the gay movement, as they want as many public figures as possible “out and proud”.  I understand their frustration, but for me as long as a gay person isn’t using someone to hide their orientation, I don’t see the problem.   In fact by living a quiet and tranquil life they are reinforcing the idea that being gay is simply another way of being human, and that gay relationships are sometimes just as boring and mundane as straight ones.

If you are gay, and you feel like there is no way to be honest with your family and friends, you truly have my sympathy.  But you might be surprised, as they may not react as negatively as you think.  Public attitudes towards homosexuality have gotten much more positive in recent years, and the trend is towards total acceptance for the entire GLTBQ community.  Hopefully with time, same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and anti-gay discrimination laws will be universal.   Regardless, if you are gay and feel the need to hide, please don’t fraudulently get another person wrapped up into your life.   Some mixed orientation marriages are happy and healthy, but almost always when they are based on honesty and open communication.

In an ideal world, anyone’s sexual orientation could remain private without controversy.  A child could openly talk about their two mommies at school and no one would think to call the principal in protest.  Two men could live in a quiet suburb and raise an adopted child without causing anyone concern.  A young gay teen could proudly take a same-sex partner to a dance without it making the local news.

I am not gay, but my life was nearly ruined by “The Closet”.  Damaged from my experience I will probably carry those scars for the rest of my life.   So anyone advocating for a life hidden safely inside a lie, I would say this.  A life in “The Closet” yeilds unintended consequences.  And if some gays remain in hiding, who is going to stand up to the bullying, the harassment, the discrimination and hate?  A life lived in fear and shame is no way to live.   If gay men and women want true equality, they can start by first burning that closet door down forever and never hiding again.  And doesn’t everyone want an intimate partner they can have a larger part of their family and social group?  Anyone living in “The Closet” can’t fully express their love for a same sex partner, in the same way that heterosexual could, and that’s tragic.

As a straight spouse I choose to not hide my past, in fact it is all over the internet.  Anyone can find my story and ridicule me for it, or maybe not ask me out on a second date because they just can’t handle it,or send me crazy angry emails.  By making my story so public,  I get some grief, but I would rather live my live in truth than try to hide my past in shame.

6 comments on “Is Living a Life in The Closet a Victimless Crime?

  1. StraightForward

    No, Juliet, it is not victimless at all. As a fellow Str8, we are doubly victimized; first indirectly by a society that drives gays into the closet, then quite directly by our closeted spouses. By the same token, it’s probably one of those “you had to be there” things for most folks. I don’t need them to “get it” to know exactly how much damage is done by this. Keep fighting the good fight, Juliet, as am I, because there are millions of us out there…including some who don’t even know it yet.

  2. Blaria

    Really agree with a lot of your points in this. I do think that while being in the closet is obviously very painful for gay people, I do think that not coming out does more harm than good for everyone. And fooling someone into marrying you when you are not straight isn’t okay nor is it excusable because that person clearly didn’t sign up for the lie. Keep speaking out about this. And screw the trolls.

  3. mai7

    A friend just died because her husband gave her aids. He’s still walking around. There are many men who screw homos just for the pleasure and money and they call themselves str8. My ex-husband was one. By the time I found out I had already lost feelings for him and I really didn’t care. He was just a terrible man. He would get upset if any one spoke against gays. Once when angry he said women are just a waste of flesh. I think he was addicted to sex. He was after women like a dog in heat. He told me once there wasn’t anything wrong with pushing sh*t. A homo should not ruin other peoples’ lives by pretending to be straight… bottom line. Stay single guys and be messed up by yourselves. I like being str8 and I don’t condone same sex marriage or that they should adopt poor little kids. Or teach in schools…the homo teachers at my school chased our boys with money and cars..they have no shame. Now they are homos or don’t know what they are. Most homos dismiss the Bible and the people who accept this life style cares nothing about God or His Law. It is a plot of Satan. No more children being born will certainly destroy the world as God intended it to be. I guess if no more babies were being born gays would clone the male species or the gays would artificially inseminate women killing the baby girls except for a few to inseminate when the others got too old. Sounds distorted? Well guess what this damn world has become distorted. You guys are now screwing animals, too!

    1. julietjeske

      I’m so sorry for your friend. That is truly tragic, I know others who have been exposed to HIV, and a few who contracted the virus from the same reckless behavior on the part of their spouse. And I am sorry that you also had a horrible experience with your ex. I understand the kind of pain you are going through and the damaged trust and destroyed self-esteem that you now have to try to rebuild.

      We may not agree on homosexuality, as I’m not religious and I don’t think being gay is immoral or wrong. I believe gay people are born gay or at least with a predisposition to be gay. I also believe in time, science will prove that homosexuality is just another way of being human. I would agree though, that entering into a marriage under false pretenses is extremely selfish and a very damaging thing to do to the other partner.

      I know several happy and healthy gay couples who have been together for years. Just like straight people, there are some are wonderful people and some are hideous individuals. People can act in self-serving way regardless of sexual orientation. Basically I don’t judge them by their sexuality but by their actions. Hopefully one day you might meet gays and lesbians who will change your mind. Try not to judge all GLTBQ by the negative actions of a few. You have obviously met some total jerks, and I’m sorry for that.

      Anyone who abuses children is a pedophile though, and not gay. Most pedophiles actually identify as straight, so that an entirely different thing than two adults engaging in consensual sexual activity. A pedophile is attracted to children, not adults, and many abuse children of both genders.

      I hope things get better for you, and we might disagree about homosexuality but regardless…I’m truly sorry for the loss of your friend, and for your own circumstance. Hopefully one day, no gay person will think it’s a good idea to marry a straight person under false pretenses. I don’t really care if people marry each other and know everything before entering the marriage, it’s honestly their business. But no marriage should be based on lies.

  4. Nymariarya

    If a person chooses the closet without trapping anyone else in there, he or she is still making themselves a victim. Fear is a wrathful thing. For the person living in fear of being completely genuine and open about who they are, all sorts of rejection runs through his/her mind. My personal belief is that the reality of how others will react is small potatoes in comparison to what fear has conjured up in their minds. Fear of the unknown is usually far worse than what comes to pass in the “known”.

    On the other hand, those who press on and try to do whatever it takes to hide their orientation (aka, those who marry the opposite sex) make victims of their spouse and children.

    Either way, it’s never a victimless choice.

    1. julietjeske

      I would agree. I think its a horrible way to live and I don’t know why anyone would do it to themselves. I understand a bit if they are in a deeply religious community or were raised in a very strict religious family. It’s definitely much more difficult, but people still do it. I’ve known some men and women who have been out for 30-40 years and they came out in a climate that wasn’t nearly as kind to homosexuals. I just don’t think there is any real safety in living a lie. So even though I don’t feel I can tell someone – You must come out! I do pity them if they chose to stay in.

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