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Barbara Grier said, "It is the closet that is our sin and shame." This is a bold statement. If LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) individuals want to mount a meaningful challenge to heterosexism bold statements will be required. For too long it has been deemed acceptable by the LGBT community to argue for acceptance of LGBT individuals that "choose" to stay in the closet. The decision to stay in the closet is a coerced choice that harms not only the individual but also the LGBT population as a whole.

Every single person who comes out of the closet (with the possible exception of Ted Haggard) benefits the project of gay rights and equality. Coming out of the closet challenges two of the fundamental pillars of heterosexism. First, it challenges the belief that gay people do not exist. Second, it confronts the belief that being gay is a disease that only affects non-normal people.

If you continue to remain in the closet while gay men and lesbians are beaten, harassed in schoolyards, denied equal marriage benefits, and fired from their jobs then you are making an active decision to support discrimination. The decision to remain in the closet in the face of continuing heterosexist can be described in one word: selfish. In order to challenge homophobia I will make a bold statement of my own: being out of the closet is a responsibility not a privilege.

Originally posted to michaelmapes on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 10:57 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, Newzie

    We can never let the closet rule our lives. Our movement mainly involves lesbians and gay men who live open and honestly. Can't say that often enough.

  •  My daughter... (10+ / 0-)

    who is now 24 "came out of the closet" so to speak when she was 17.  Initially, I thought she was just confused (is that a typical parent reaction?); but now I am so proud of her for living her life in the open with no shame.

    Living in a fairly conservative area of my county, I was (and sometimes am) concerned about her safety from bigots.  So far, my fears have been unfounded.  She is employed by a local governmental agency, and everyone just accepts her as she is.   It has somewhat restored my faith in mankind.

  •  While I understand where you're coming from (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Erwin, sarasson007, BoiseBlue

    I don't know that I necessarily agree. First of all, being 'in the closet' is not a black or white distinction. You might be out with friends and family, but are you in the closet if you never mention it to your boss?

    And herein lies a more important point. Homophobia is largely a problem involving heterosexuals not minding their own business. People who are not involved in my sex life really have no business knowing a damn thing about it, and I have no 'responsibility' to inform them, unless I intend to bring them home.

    If your identity is 'gay', then great. But while we can all work against bigotry, regardless of who we boink or what pronoun we use, I don't think being 'out' is a responsibility. There are lots of things I wouldn't tell my mom or my employer, things that would change the way they look at me. We are constantly creating an image of identity to project outward. You don't have a responsibility to make your sex life public, no more than I expect George Bush to call a press conference when he shows Laura his O-face.

    If I want your pity I'll take it from you by force.

    by Alfred E Qaeda on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 11:23:28 AM PST

    •  being gay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fiddler crabby, 1864 House

      is about more than a person's sex life...

      •  Yes, and so is being straight (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not saying people SHOULDN'T be out if that's what they want to be. I'm saying that the identity we present to others is invariably a collection of fictions and half-truths.

        As a journalist, I carefully select the words I use and consider my audience. Depending on the publication (and thus the audience) I may use completely different styles of speaking. Different 'truths' if you like. In our every day dealings, we do the same when we present ourselves to others. It's a question of effective communication.

        Obviously, if your superior (boss, parent, etc.) makes (for example) an offensive remark about gays and you let it slide, you're enabling them by not pointing out how their views are fucked up. But you can do these things as a decent person, not necessarily as a (insert devalued identity here).

        At holidays, if a relative makes a remark I find offensive, I can tell him, "Whoa, dude. Think about what you're saying here. That's seriously wrong," and then proceed to force him to defend his beliefs  in front of his loved ones, and perhaps even get him to recant. I don't necessarily want to tell him what gets me off in bed, primarily because it's not his business. But also because it will cause him to shut down the line of communication. He doesn't want to hear it, and I certainly don't care what he does. Gross.

        As long as there are norms of gender and sexuality there will always be people outside those norms. These people will get picked on in school and in regular life. That's wrong. It still happens, and I have no reason to believe it will ever stop. People are pretty fucking cruel with any kind of "other", and it's like that all over.

        Coming out is a delicate process with a lot of local variables, and I don't think it's worthwhile to place guilt on those who reveal their identities selectively. Because to some extent, we all do that.

        If I want your pity I'll take it from you by force.

        by Alfred E Qaeda on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 01:08:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'd prefer to let each individual choose (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, sarasson007

    It's not for you to say what each queer should do.

  •  Being in the closet means different things to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, LtdEdishn, 1864 House, Newzie

    different people. Some people are very comfortable being out with people they barely know. Others are much more private, and don't feel the need to share their sexual orientation with most other people.

    I think it is sad when a person wants to come out, but doesn't have the confidence to do so or is in a situation where coming out just isn't safe. However, I am also hesitant to say that people have a responsibility to come out.

  •  Google "Queers read this" and read it! nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  I wish more people would come out, too. (5+ / 0-)

    But they don't have a "responsibility" to do so. They're entitled to live their lives as they see fit.

    However, they do have a responsibility not to harm their brothers and sisters, whether through anti-gay actions or rhetoric.

  •  I disagree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Erwin, Newzie, BoiseBlue

    While I agree with the basic tenant that visibility increases acceptance, I do not agree that if one chooses not to make oneself visible that doing such is supporting discrimination.

    I am gay myself, but I don't project that. So when I tell someone I'm gay, It has to be germane to the conversation. It's not something I announce. For instance, If I'm asked a direct question, about dating per say, I will respond truthfully. But I won't simply interject it for no reason. If others choose to be more discreet, I have no problem with that.

    •  I don't think I was saying (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      everyone has to wear and i'm gay t-shirt everywhere they go

      •  No, but... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Newzie, BoiseBlue

        You are chastising those who remain in the closet. I think that's wrong.

        To an extent, our entire society has to come out of the closet. Just as someone who is gay must come to terms with that reality, so too does society. It is a lengthy process for some people. I don't think you can denigrate it. The amount of time it takes for someone to come to terms is closely related to one's upbringing.

        We'll get there.

      •  But you said this: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a girl in MI

        If you continue to remain in the closet while gay men and lesbians are beaten, harassed in schoolyards, denied equal marriage benefits, and fired from their jobs then you are making an active decision to support discrimination.

        It is usually an active decision to protect one's self. It is not an active decision to support anti-gay views. It's usually self-preservation, and it's certainly not something that anyone should have to defend.

  •  I imagine you do not live... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Erwin, fiddler crabby, BoiseBlue an area of the country where being GLBT means you will be a target for physical assault, probably unemployable and quite likely homeless.

    Where do you live?

    •  That's what I was thinking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had to stay in the closet at my last job because I would have been fired in an instant.

      I'm no longer there, but I'm not "out" at my new job. If the topic ever comes up, I assume it's safe, and I'll answer truthfully. But I could not have done that previously.

      It's simply not an option for a lot of people.

  •  A challenge? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Erwin

    What the heck? Why should being GLBT or whatever be any kind of challenge to heterosexuals?
    Please, pick a better word because that drives away people who would otherwise be very supportive. And homophobes are only going to get more defensive.
    I am very supportive of GLBT because:
    A: Sexual orientation is personal, and only matters if I'm wanting to play in the hay with you.
    B: There's a much larger problem in out society about what constitutes freedom and pursuit of happiness. That foundation is eroded when certain groups are not permitted to be who they are.
    It would be more potent to say, coming out of the closet is one more step toward upholding the freedoms our country was founded on. Being GLBT (or straight) is the pursuit of happiness. And very patriotic.
    Rather than challenge a homophobe directly, which is pointless, this shows their hypocrisy.
    And for those who are straight, like myself, we are much more likely to agree and march right with you.

    -7.50/-7.90 Everyone knows I'm out in left field.

    by WiseFerret on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 12:31:21 PM PST

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