Why Staying in the Closet
Causes Everybody to Lose
Copyright 2012 by
I am straight. In the interest of full disclosure and to put the following in the correct context, this is coming from a perceived outsider, or "breeder" (my favorite, makes me laugh every time).
That being said, I understand human psychology pretty well, which I feel qualifies me to at least weigh in on this.
When gays remain in the closet, refusing to be honest about one of the most fundamental aspects of their humanity, their sexuality, they hurt not only themselves, but similar-minded people, i.e. other gays who choose to live on the down low. There unfortunately IS a 'strength in numbers' mindset at work here, as the more populated the gay 'underground' becomes, the more appealing it looks as a place for refuge and respite from the hatred and fear that still confronts gays on a regular basis.
They also hurt, ultimately, the cause for gay freedom of expression and gay rights under the law. The less the number of people contributing to the general outroar, the less chance there is for change.
Remaining closeted is not tantamount to supporting those who hate homosexuals. Of course not. But, it DOES serve as a tacit acceptance of homophobic oppression of gays. In other words, you're caving to the pressure of ignorance.
I know how easy it is to sit here and encourage such a bold act. But my place as an interloper on this subject should not obfuscate the fact that I might be right.
Many gays remain in the closet due to the fear of their family's rejection. That is a very real fear, though I think less so now and will continue to become rarer as enlightenment takes over (knock on wood).
But if that decision really gets thought through, there is logic to be mined from this mine field. It is such an emotionally charged issue; I can only imagine how difficult it must be to truly intellectualize it. Nonetheless, you miss the opportunity to help your family understand that gays are people, just like any other. And you also bypass a chance to create, almost instantly, a support-group of your most trusted loved ones. I know a gay woman who finally came out to her family, with MUCH trepidation, and was pleasantly stunned to see them rally immediately around her and her partner. She suddenly had a group of fans and supporters with the ferocity of the 1985 Bears defense.
I think the reward far outweighs the risk, here. Staying in the closet because of how your parents and or entire family might react will breed in YOU a resentment and even hatred of that very same family. Think about it…what have you REALLY got to lose? Living a lie with your blood relatives? How is THAT working for you?
And oftentimes, that is not fair to the family, because for many gay people, they don't truly know how their family will react. Staying on the down low lets everything simmer on both sides of the fence. I say play your cards face up on the table. The chance for a much more meaningful trust and relationship with your family, and friends, far outweighs the fear of rejection, in my book.
Gaydar is more common now than ever, though probably less prevalent in older folks, but most people under fifty claim to have it in some form or another. The reason I bring this up is that you are probably not fooling that many people. Most people, even enlightened pro-gay heterosexuals like myself, have suspicions about certain people in their lives, and are probably waiting hopefully for the coronation.
The increasing amount of gays portrayed on television and in movies should make the path to enlightenment smoother for BOTH sides of this coin. Though most of the roles still wallow in silly stereotypes, there is a trend that is heading in the right direction. Hell, women still get portrayed in Hollywood media through the prism of stereotype a large percentage of the time. It's going to take patience.
So come out, join our Reindeer Games. We may poke fun, in a good natured way, but we do that with everyone in this country.
It is a way to include everyone, with a background soundtrack of laughter.