A (surprisingly) close friend – obviously not exactly approving of my “out” life – told me, adding that while he sees nothing wrong with my way of seeing (i.e. being out as important), “you have to understand that it’s not for everyone.” Then he added, with emphasis: “You can be in the closet and live a happy, happy life.” In fact, he further added, “there are many closeted gay couples who are happy with their ‘hiding’.”
And I have issues with this.
Yes, I do not believe in “outing” people – coming out, I believe, is a very, very personal decision. After all, for some, it could mean the difference between life and death – young gay guys have been known to have been kicked out of their houses as soon as they came out, while LGBTs have been kicked out of their schools for coming out, just as LGBTs have been (verbally and physically) bashed after they decided to self-identify for who they truly are, while the career paths of many are stupidly blocked, and there are those who get abused, and even killed once their self-identity became known.
So yes, I completely understand – and respect – the fact that there are members of the LGBT community who find comfort (albeit sad) and even the necessity of the darkness of the closet.
But for those who are able to, particularly for those already in positions of power (however “power” may be defined – be it holding public office, being in the public eye as a personality, or even just having financial stability as a BPO worker/call center agent), coming out becomes a necessity, even a responsibility.
This I believe because:
- When you don’t come out, you perpetuate the erroneous belief that there is something wrong with being LGBT. I have encountered many not-exactly-out gay men who actually boasted to me how they reacted when their oh-so-straight officemates verbally attacked their effeminate gay officemates, by “acting even more butch – nakakahiya kasi ang mga bakla (gays are embarrassing),” as one of them told me, adding that, just to be sure he won’t be suspected of being gay, he joined in taunting the out gay person. Moves like this allow the continuing existence of a WRONG system in need to be changed – and not just because it is an affront to LGBTs, but because it is an affront to being human…
- Not taking pride in who you are gives those who abhor you ammunition to act like they are better than you – even if the opposite is true. I know of this gay couple who have been together for almost 10 years now (they already have properties that they co-own, in fact). But for the mother of one of them, “they’re just housemates”. That her son’s relationship lasted longer than her other children’s (all heterosexuals) doesn’t matter to her. And she will continue believing so unless her son confronts her with the fact (by coming out) that LGBTs can form SUCCESSFUL loving relationships, as well.
- You are bound to hurt others with your hiding. There are PlanetRomeo.com and Grindr members who actually boast of having a “loving wife and children – that’s why I’m in the closet”. But they have dalliances (at times unsafe) with other men. I personally know of one such man, who – surprisingly – said he’d beat his wife if he found out she’s cheating on him, only to find me annoying when I told him he is doing what should be a ground for her to leave him (and take their children with her).
- Those in the closet will be similarly benefited by the efforts of those who are out of the closet and are getting all the heat for pushing for acceptance – e.g. the passing of an Anti-Discrimination Bill will not just benefit those who are out, but even those who are not, should they choose to use the same. Start being a part of the struggle that aims to look after all our good.
Yes, coming out should NOT have to be done at all.
After all, heterosexuals do NOT have to come out at all.
But that’s the ideal.
And we aren’t in that ideal state yet (for now).
So until then, coming out remains important.
If there’s resistance, highlight why that pride is important.
Because that’s the ONLY way for acceptance to happen.
As for my friend who believes in the lack of importance of coming out, I asked him if he can give me names of closeted gay couples who are happy in their hiding.
He still hasn’t provided me any…