Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The closet wounds.

As I move through life I am continually a witness to the problems that arise from people who are in the closet about their homosexuality.

The fundamental problem with the closet, of course, is that it forces you to lie. And to lie about lies. Your life becomes a web of lies. And that's bad, mkay?

But the closet also affects the people around you. A wife and kids, perhaps. Family members. The real femmy guy you beat up in high school to prove you were not gay. That kind of thing.

But it can even affect the world around you, I got to thinking recently. For a completely hypothetical situation, let's say you are a man - maybe even an elected official - with a good name, and as a cover you married a woman who was a real choice piece of ghetto ass who subsequently coasted into elected office on your coattails?

And then what if this poor beard selection started systematically eliminating any shred of dignity her elected office previously held? And fought real progress in the name of favoritism and special interest? And shamelessly hit on other men in public, including prominent local business leaders? And continually embarrassed you and the entire region where she held office?

Now this is completely and totally hypothetical and is decidedly NOT about any real-life elected officials that I know of. But this nightmare scenario was just a place my mind ran this morning while catching up on the news, and I felt compelled to reiterate: if you are gay, coming out of the closet and ditching your shame will make your world - and possibly the world around you - a better place.



Woodwards Friend said...

You know this is totally unrelated to your post in any direct way but I couldn't help but think about Dan White today reading about Monica Conyers' most recent temper tantrum. She clearly on the brink of being a danger to herself and others.

Your post reminded me of that because it seems, listening to gay people describe the closet thing, that it's comparable to having a mental health issue. Maybe being "in the closet" should be considered a mental or emotional disorder and treatments to help a person overcome it.

Anonymous said...

This region has enough issues even without all the lying and cover-ups about wrongdoing. It's ironic that something as innocuous as a sexual choice would add to the problems we're facing, but isn't that Detroit in a nutshell?

Supergay Detroit said...

Well WF, I think a better idea might be considering homophobia a mental disorder, since that's what prevents people from being comfortable enough to come out as gay. The problem isn't with gay people, it's with straight society.

Plus I think gay people have had quite enough mental health "treatment" over the years!

An interesting example of the closet affecting policy is the sad story of Senator Larry Craig. Sure it's fun to laugh at that whole thing, but when you really look at it, it's tragic.

Here is a man who is same-sex oriented but felt forced to marry a woman and have a family if he was going to get ahead in the world. Then when elected to public office he repeatedly voted against measures that benefited gays and lesbians, all the while (apparently) maintaining a secret life.

(And let's be perfectly honest here, you dont' "accidentally" cruise someone in the next bathroom stall, that's a learned code thing.)

So the really offensive thing is how his party - the party whose social policies continue to force people to live in the closet - tears him apart like a pack of jackals. I mean, you people made him this way!

God that whole thing really pissed me off. And as much as I'm glad he got his comeuppance for his anti-gay voting record, let's not pretend like generations of gay men didn't feel forced to make the same choice.

Anonymous said...

i've been following your blog off and on ever since reading your post last year about bringing gays to detroit. i just wanted to send you a quick message to let you know that after coming out of the closet last year that i made the move to detroit in october (lafayette park, actually).

Woodwards Friend said...

I wouldn't disagree about the homophobia as mental disorder but, seriously, no one who is mentally right leads the kind of double life like Larry Craig for as long as he did (does). I have zero sympathy or his apologists on either side because:

1. He couldn't even bring himself to support the kind of tame pro-gay issues easily defended as libertarian/privacy or public health issues.

It's one thing that he voted for DOMA, even beloved Human Rights Campaign icon Hillary Clinton was in favor of DOMA at the time. It's another to be against funding AIDS prevention or non-discrimination protection for federal employees.

2. Point taken on the "generations of men" forced into the closet and the men's room stall but in 2009 looking for sex in the shithouse just isn't acceptable. At least in big cities (like Minneapolis) we've come that far.

3. Mary Kay Latorno syndrome. Though he was never caught, his unsolicited denial that he was tagging teen-age pages back in the 1980's suggests that he was tagging teen-age pages back in the 1980's. So, you know, inappropriate behavior for Congressmen or teachers.

Gay or straight, in or out of the closet Larry Craig is a skeez. The end.

Supergay Detroit said...

I think you are missing the point. Nobody who is mentally right lives that kind of double life? One could argue that he was forced to live that double life. He is 63 years old, and from Idaho. What do you think it was like to be coming of age and gay in 1963? You lived the double life or you ran away from your family and started new in New York City. I mean honestly, if you knew the number of people I know of who – this very day – are living that same double life you would fall off your barstool. It’s not a mental illness, it’s defense mechanism.

So yes, an out of the closet person has lots of options in a big city in 2009, but not the people who have been hiding their sexuality their entire lives. I do think that these people could have made some hard choices and been honest to who they are, but clearly the fear was too great.

The closet and the need to disassociate himself from anything gay publicly certainly account for his anti-gay voting record, as does his republicanism. That is the argument behind "outing," of course, that closeted gay people who hinder the progress of gay rights should be outed. Craig just did it himself and saved the media the hassle.

I don't even really care about his having sex in a bathroom - we've all had long layovers. The thing that matters to me here is that his hypocrisy was exposed.

But I can't say that on some level I am not sad for the guy. He made a choice at a young age to hide who he was and spent the rest of his life perpetuating the lie. And that hurt a lot of people, most notably his family. That is the real tragedy of the closet.

Supergay Detroit said...

Hey Anonymous - thank you for your update! I am glad you moved into the city, how are you liking it, and Lafayette Park, so far?

It's very pretty when it snows, no?

Anonymous said...

I like it a lot! i grew up in the 'burbs (rochester hills to be exact) so the diversity is very invigorating. as far as lafayette park goes-i am really enjoying myself but am looking forward to meeting more people...i attend wayne state so have some friends around but it will be nice once i figure out how to get more ingrained in the city, gay life in general, and culture.

it is very pretty when it snows-but by this time of the year i am looking forward to spring!

Anonymous said...

i just came out to my 80-something grandma this week. people are always hipper (more tolerant) than we give them credit for.

Anonymous said...

Dave, your grandmother knew when you were still in the cradle.

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