On this day exactly a year ago, someone showed me what life was like in the closet. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (don’t worry, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. idioms can be a pain sometimes), being “in the closet” means publicly denying that you’re a homosexual. And for those of you who don’t know, well, I am, myself, a homosexual. No, I have not been in the closet for more or less three years now, and yes, I am quite sure it is not just a phase.
I’ve never actually written about homosexuality, because I feel like it’s too open-ended; too many opinions, too much complication. And even now, when I finish this post and share it on Facebook, I will be hiding this from a group aptly named “The Closet” consisting mainly of my extended family and some adults that I totally respect but whom I know would look at it with disdain and distaste without even knowing it.
There, now we got that out of the way, let’s get back on track. As I was saying, a year ago, I had the pleasure of having a heartfelt dinner conversation regarding this matter. Well, I wouldn’t say it was all pleasure. After all, my companion had been crying to me, pouring out feelings I have long since forgotten. Back then, I was trying to be the strong one, staying calm and reaching out, letting her know that life isn’t so difficult. Now, I’m not so sure.
You see, I’m blessed. I was raised in a (nuclear) family where every rational opinion was recognized and every voice was heard. When I came out to my mother three years ago, tears streaming down my face, she just smiled and said, “okay”. I was a bit taken aback by her casualness. I asked her, “so it’s alright for me to just tell people I’m gay?” and she said, “yeah.” Well, I guess she wasn’t surprised, raising me as the tomboy that I am. I’ve also been blessed to have entered a university that valued open-mindedness and acceptance, where support came easily from my friends.
That said, I found it a bit hard to imagine what she must have been going through. I thought, maybe she was just exaggerating. Maybe her friends and family wouldn’t really look down on her as much as she thought. Maybe she wouldn’t have to keep hoping her feelings would change and one day, she would wake up a heterosexual. Admittedly, back then, I felt myself blaming her for staying in the closet. I just didn’t understand how she could keep pretending to be someone she’s not.
It’s a sad life, having to keep things from your friends and family; having to introduce your girlfriend as your friend; having to make sure nobody who knows you is around before sharing an intimate gesture; having to lie about schoolwork just so you could keep going out on dates; hearing your own parents speak about what you’re going through as if it was some kind of lethal disease; and the worst part is, wondering if there’s a future for you somehow.
Quite a number of people have shared their stories with me regarding their sexuality (I guess it comes with finding out that I’m a lesbian), but for all of those people, I’ve never heard anyone say with certainty that they’re going to have a bright and beautiful homosexual relationship in the future. And when I ask why, they can’t even answer without falling back to society.
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it. Gay is synonymous with the lesser -Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Quick plug: listen to that song, Same Love, and REALLY listen to it. I still get tears in my eyes even though I’ve seen the music video countless times. Point is, Macklemore was right when he said that in our society, people still look down on homosexuals. Even if we claim that we’re a more accepting people than before, we still make faggot jokes (or in our case in the Philippines, bading jokes) that are degrading. Remember Charice Pempengco? How many trash talks did she get when she came out? How long did that issue last? It’s sad really.
Even the simpler things, like having to point out that you’re gay, can be difficult. You’d have to endure the interrogation that follows right after, especially the “are you sure?” part. I watched a video once where the interviewer asked random people 2 questions: 1) do you think that being gay is a decision? 2) so when did you decide that you were straight? Also, gay is often related to promiscuity. I don’t get it though. Heterosexuals can be as promiscuous as homosexuals, even more. Why can’t a homosexual relationship consist of more than lust and lewdness?
With all those in mind, I finally understand now why this person decided to stay in the closet. I see it as a sort of paradoxical conflict. It’s easy to stay in because you wouldn’t have to continuously fight for your feelings and beliefs. You’d just have to conform to the norm. But then again, it’s also difficult, because you’d have to hide your feelings. You’d have to put on a mask, one that isn’t easy to bear. And if you end up marrying someone from the opposite sex simply out of respect for the norm, well, we all know how badly that could go. I guess it’s all just a matter of how strongly you feel about it, how much you want to fight for it. Because believe me, neither path is easy. In or out, it’s going to be a difficult life. The only difference is, it’s a much freer, brighter, and more beautiful world outside!
But yes, I get it now. Some people feel safer in the closet. Well, good luck with that! Hope you find your spells and incantations-oh wait, that was a cupboard- or your vast land of snow-oh wait, that was a wardrobe- bah! There really isn’t anything wonderful in the closet, dears, just a lot of mothballs and dust.