Monday, June 7, 2010

The Digital Closet

This is a great article about the realities of being gay today and the decision to be in or out about it. Throughout my life I think the most difficult task I’ve ever faced was coming out. I told my older sister when I was 15, but I found it impossible over the years to tell my mother. I rectified that just before Christmas last year while, when talking to her about some news issue involving gay rights, I said to Mom, “You know I’m gay, right?” “Of course,” she said. And so do such fearful things fall so easily from us after all that worry.

Part of my problem over coming out is that I genuinely don’t like such emotionally heavy-laden moments. When I was 15 (late seventies), the idea of coming out always struck me as such a portentous event that I could barely overcome my shyness about making such a big deal out of anything, much less worrying how other people would react to the specific news that I’m gay. Today it’s easier for me to come out, but I don’t know if it’s because technology allows me to be out without having that awkward “OMG, here we go!” moment or simply because I’ve smashed down the closet door for the last time in my life. The sad truth is that I probably wouldn’t have left that closet door closed for so long had I been able to dig down for the courage to tell people the truth about me.

At Facebook and on my blog I’m out, and I’ve lost any shyness I once had over working gay themes into my fiction. Last night I added a rainbow icon to my profile at Facebook so that anyone looking there knows right up front (in the speed of the online world, it helps to be blunt). I want my friends to know. I want my family to know. At work a couple of co-workers know (Hi, Wendy!), but I haven’t come out totally in that, “Hey everybody, guess what?” sense. But anyone who sees my blog will probably figure that out pretty quickly. One thing that inspires me deeply is seeing how young people are coming out to their families in greater numbers. If these kids can face their fears and do it, so can I.

Is it wrong for me to lean on technology and chance to spread the news? Maybe, but I do love knowing that I can circumvent my own reticence and get the news out a little more easily. It is far easier for me to write what I have to say here than it is for me to ever speak the words for no other reason than I convey every topic better through the written word. In the end, that everyone knows I’m gay is what counts, not how they find out. And I can safely say that no one is going to find out about it by accident, because I no longer want to hide who I am from anybody.

“The Digital Closet” (Newsweek)


h/t Andrew Sullivan

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