Time to add another line to the very very long list of things cis, straight people need to stop saying. These are generally not things said by the homophobes or even the completely clueless who refuse to analyse their prejudice – these are things said by people who probably mean well and probably try – but may not see the full implications of what they say.
“I’m not gay, but if I were I wouldn’t be ashamed/wouldn’t hide/I’d be out”.
Or words to that effect. Generally a straight person asserts they are straight and goes on to “prove” it by assuring us that if they weren’t straight they would tell us, because they’re totally cool with people being gay.
In some ways this is a better form of the panicked “zomg you called me gay, how very dare you!”. And in many ways it is better – people who treat the suggestion of being gay as an insult or an accusation are being homophobic and need to be hit repeatedly with a tuna. Denying the information while making it clear you don’t consider it an insult (even if it does sometimes feel like a belated “not that there’s anything wrong with that” seems better).
Yes there’s a but…
“If I were gay I would be open”. No.
I call shenanigans. The vast majority (if not all) of everyone who is GBLT out there has spent some time in the closet. We are pressured into it since birth in an extreme manner cis, straight people can’t even begin to imagine. It takes extraordinary courage to come out. It is risky to come out. It is usually pretty hard to come out, to say the least.
If you were LGBT, dear cis, straight folks, I can nearly guarantee you would have been closeted at some point in your life and you’d probably still be closeted now. And that applies double if you’re in a big public situation where cameras follow you.
You’re not special. The chances are you wouldn’t dodge the bullet that hits 90% of us. You are not better than those of us who have been closeted, are still closeted or will continue to be closeted. If you were GBLT, you would hide. If you were LGBT and out at some point you would have hidden – at some points you probably still would. That’s not a judgement on you – that’s reality, the reality of a deeply hostile, bigoted society, the reality of what the vast majority of us have had to do or continues to do to survive. If you were like us, you would have to walk that same road
By saying you wouldn’t, you just show how little you actually understand the closet, what drives us to closet and the risks involved in being out of the closet.