05 September 2007

Spirit Prison

that’s pretty selfish, gays (jump to 2:10)

There's a basic concept of homosexuality that you may be overlooking: The Closet

At one point or another an openly gay man finds himself going back into the Closet. Usually (hopefully) it is only for a moment. A stranger makes a rude comment and you don't feel like defending all gay men everywhere so you let it slide.*

And you hate it.

You hate it because that brief moment back inside the Closet makes you remember when you were trapped there.

And you realize the further distant the Wretched Box of Self-Loathing is and the more open you become the happier and happier you are.

For surely, man was not meant to live trapped in deception.

I'm not, however, talking about you, dear homosexual. I’m talking about that other person. The one you put there. The one you shoved in the Closet.

As it turns out, the major principle of homosexuality that you may be overlooking is actually this: No One Man Leaves Unless Another Takes His Place.

Think of the first person you ever told. Let me guess. You swore them to secrecy, didn’t you? Are they still locked in? Are they still in the closet unable to leave because you still hold the key?

Have you become their jailer?

*You can read more about the concepts of "covering" and "passing" in this post.


good tune


Kengo Biddles said...

It wasn't clear until we had the conversation that sparked this post, but you're absolutely right.

J G-W said...

When I came out, I handed the key to every single person I told. I didn't swear anybody to secrecy. I wanted people to know. The more the better.

But my parents went into the closet for years. Gradually, they came out when they were ready.

And I've tried being out this way at Church, but it doesn't work! I guess people think that telling this little bit of truth about me is the worst thing they can possibly say about somebody. *sigh*

playasinmar said...

It was my intention to hand the key to everyone. I certainly offered it to them. Yet, they felt compelled to never tell anyone.

Forester said...

For those of us who still live in the closet, it helps to be able to keep it locked when we need it to be locked. Knocking first is the polite thing to do when it's not your house, even if you have a key. I don't push people into the closet, but instead just let them know I'm there if they want to visit.

Beck said...

I am the jail keeper. I hold the key. It's just the way it is. I'm in prison and so is my secret. Deal with it...

But, as I become more "known" in this community, I'm sure it will be only a matter of time before someone opens the door to expose me curled up in the dark corner crevices.

For the most part, I hope when that day comes, I'll be okay with that. I wish it didn't have to be this way. Can anyone see how it can be any other way? *sigh*

J G-W said...

I hate how discussions of the closet sometimes end up seeming so guilt-inducing. There's nothing particularly righteous about coming out of the closet, and nothing cowardly or wicked about staying in the closet. They're both just coping mechanisms, plain and simple.

The best we can do in practical terms is be there to support each other... Be there to listen to and protect the confidentiality of those who can't come out yet; emotionally support those who experience rejection when they do come out.

playasinmar said...

A) If you're gay you hate the closet.

B) This post isn't about the virtues of coming out or staying in.

I'm talking about what happens to the ones you come out to.

J G-W said...

I know, I know.

I like your post, I think it's very true. That's the collateral damage of homophobia. It doesn't just choke us and shut us down, it does the same thing to our families and friends too. In any given LDS ward, what percentage of people do you think are living in the closet?

But I notice that when folks like Beck or Forester who are still in the closet to everybody but their on-line friends post, they almost seem apologetic about being in the closet. I'm not sure who they should feel apologetic to...

I came out because I had to. It felt good. It was a huge relief. It was one of the most momentous things in my life. People would come up to me (both gay and straight) and would say, "You have so much courage!" But I felt it was a matter of survival. I almost killed myself. I struggled with horrible depression for a long time. That was why I came out... It had nothing to do with courage or doing the right thing. It was survival thing.

playasinmar said...

"In any given LDS ward, what percentage of people do you think are living in the closet?" -J G-W

Well, if you factor in the people given the secret to keep and the homosexuals themselves... way too many.

Gimple said...

This is a very interesting post. It is so true! I have told some people but I have also told them other people that I know so they can talk to them about it. I guess that is better than nothing, right?

playasinmar said...

It sure is, Gimple.

I used that tack but I had a bit of a hard time convincing some people that it really was okay to talk about it.

Abelard Enigma said...

When I told my wife that I was gay, I didn't come out of the closet - I dragged her into my closet.

But, the thing is, I haven't left my closet, we are in there together. I've offered to bring other select people into our closet, but she has graciously declined.

Does that make me her jailer? She knows where the key is. If anything, she has chosen to remain more deeply entrenched in our closet than I am. I've made it known that she can leave the closet if she feels the need - I've only requested that she tell me first as are certain people I think deserve to hear it from me first.

Like Beck, I believe it is probably only a matter of time before the closet door is swung open. I only hope that I'm ready when that time comes. And, perhaps more importantly, I hope that they (who opened the door) are ready to accept what they've exposed.

GeckoMan said...

I guess I'm in the closet, but I've punched out a window and recently built on an adjoining private patio, so it doesn't feel so dark and lonely. I've invited several members of my family to enjoy the patio with me, which we do regularly. When the time comes that I feel my younger children can handle the TMI, then I'll give them a key as well.

I don't feel any special obligation to inform everyone in my world of what 'lurks beneath,' but then again I feel I have nothing to hide. Given the right circumstances I will share my personal story with anyone who I feel may benefit from understanding. My Bishop is well aware of my attractions and of course sustains me as YM Pres. I realize most ward members have not been challenged much with accepting 'out' AND faithful members. Maybe the day will come when I will afford them the opportunity.

Kengo Biddles said...

Abe, to speak to your comment, you are both in the closet, and as someone near me once said, your gay identity is now her gay identity. She has as much a say in your (pl) being in or out of the closet.

It was the hardest thing in the world for me to tell Miki three days ago that she has my express permission to tell her family at appropriate, handleable times.

I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I let her know that she has some say about our closet, and how open the door is.

Work with your wife, since you share the closet, and find your happy medium, your middle road.

Kalvin said...

In some ways I really hate the symbology of the closet. If you really like the topic I highly recommend that you read Eve K. Sedgewick's Epistemology of the Closet. It's funny, I don't think of the closet in these terms at all. I do have a closet, everyone does about some issues be they the closet racist, hell, even the closet mormon. When I used to be a mormon, I would closet that aspect of myself occasionally. It's funny how I don't think of coming out much anymore because even to mormons back home, I just say, oh "my partner and I were out doing..." and I don't really care. We need to stop treating it as if we're ringing doomsday bells, and beyond that, come on, almost everyone already knows. I loved Kenji Yoshino's book, and I think there is a lot to glean from it. I personally liked the Yale Law Review article he did much better than the book, but it's much more difficult, but it gets to the meatier issues of performativity in a better way. The funny thing is that my mother LOVES this closet you're talking about. I constantly ask her if she tells people and ask that she be more open (honestly, she's come a long way and now asks me if I need to get my morning coffee when I visit her :) and she's always been great to my partner and says she thinks of him as one of the family) and she responds that it's "none of their business" and yet she will tell her church friends instantly if my younger brother had been dating someone for over 2 months. Anyway, love your avatar. Viva los osos! Perhaps you're not mentioning that. Somehow I always imagine Moho's to be more ignorant of the wider gay community but perhaps that's my prejudice.

Kalvin said...

Whoops, I loved the youtube joke. haha, we can be pretty selfish I guess.

playasinmar said...

Welcome to my little corner of the Blog Universe, Kalvin! I've always enjoyed reading your blog.

I think everyone has a "closet" or two by your definition and everyone hates them. Necessary though they may sometimes be.

My avatar is a dog rolling around on the ground, laughing. It's how I try to handle life. Comedy makes the world go 'round.

As for, "Viva los osos..."

...um YEAH!