The closet and coming out is something I have spoken about a lot and I’d like to take the opportunity in this day to bring many of these thoughts together.
Firstly, the closet itself. Too many ignorant straight, cis people consider the closet to be an asset to us – that the fact we can hide makes homophobia and transphobia a “lesser prejudice” compared to others. This is a highly privileged and dismissive view that misses the damage and pain the closet causes – and the elements of homophobia and transphobia that arise because of the closet.
The Closet is not an asset. It is toxic.
Being in the closet, constantly hiding who we are, is actually extremely hard work and often very painful. The closet clings to us as an eternal burden.
The closet itself leads to the unique experience of coming out which, in turn, leads to one of the fraught dangers that most afflicts GBLT people. We’re very rarely born among our own people. We rarely have families and mentors close to us to guide our way and tell us how the world is. This not only makes us vulnerable to negative influences from society and media since we lack personal counters – but it also means that we are often born among our worst enemies. That those who should love us the most are the ones who will reject us, hurt us and torture us so completely. The closet is so toxic that it can warp us.
It’s a vulnerability that makes coming out important for both us personally – to counter the shame that society tries to force on us with the Pride of public affirmation – and as a community, because so many of us – most of us – are born alone and need to know we’re out there. For this and many reason, coming out matters. And, no, you’re not being super accepting by asking “who cares” or pretending you’re above it all. You may be – we can’t afford to be. It matters – and not just for us, but for GBLT people in history as well. The closet has consumed our heroes, our role models, are forbearers and left us with a broken history and damaged legacy – a process that is continuing today.