I recently wrote a piece on the . What surprised me more than anything were the comments condemning me for having disdain for “The sex scandalCloset“. 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.