Friday, July 23, 2010

The Thing About Closets is You Can Always End Up Inside One Again

Holla Amigas,

I want to start off this post with an apology. I realize that I have drastically slowed down my rate of posting on The Point. Friends, I am sorry! I'll make it up to you, I promise. From here on out I'll aim at posting one new entry per week on Thursdays (because I know you need that kick to get you to Friday). I know you'll accept my apology, so let's get started on a new tale from my life of awesomeness.

Today's story is about closets. In case you've never considered this, gays aren't the only kids hiding in them. Lots of people hang out in closets. Obviously, they house a number of lesbians, gay boys and transgendered friends, but they also provide a haven for republicans at liberal arts colleges, mixed race or light skinned ethnic kids who pass as white, feminists who want to grow up and be housewives, and respected public figures who love marijuana.

Lots of people hide who they are or what they love in order to fit in and be accepted by society. Maybe you've even hid in a closet at some point. If you have, you are well aware that you can't come out of the closet one time and be done with it. It's a repetative process. You also know that coming out or staying in the closet is a daily decision. It's like this: your roommate brings over some friends for a dinner party. After a few glasses of wine and friendly conversation, you all begin discussing politics. The controversial issue of same-sex marriage or legalizing marijuana (or whatever makes you part of the closet brigade) comes up. Now, what do you do? Do you share your truth and endure ignorant questions--at best--or hostility--at worst--about who you are and what you feel or do you keep it to yourself?

Guys, it's a daily mindfuck.

The Thing About Closets is You Can Always End Up Inside One Again

I came out to my parents long after I'd come out to my friends, but before coming out to my siblings. It was the summer after graduation and I'd just taken a temporary postion at my alma mater. My car was all packed up and I was preparing to take off for my new home, four hours from my parents. It was a Friday and my siblings were all at school. My dad was at work. It was just my mom and I.

Before I go any futher, I should warn you: this is not the story of coming out to my parents, but you need to know some basics to get to today's story.

Two hours before hopping on the road, I told my mom I was gay. Although she thinks it's a phase, she agreed to tell my dad and let me tell my sisters myself. As I was arriving in my new hometown, my mom called and promptly handed the phone to my father. He was more accepting than she was, but I got the vibe he thought this might be temporary as well.

That weekend I moved into my new house.  My mom called all effing weekend to ask me what being gay meant for me and for her future as a grandmother. Also, she kept saying she didn't know "how this could have happened." 

On Monday I began my job. I never hid anything during my life as a student, so I didn't figure I'd encounter any sexuality-centered problems at work. I was excited and totally nevervous as I entered my new office. On the one hand, my mom didn't have my work number so I was saved from dealing with questions on gay life for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. On the other hand, the job was temporary. I would only work there for three months and then I'd be off on another adventure or forced to move back home and deal with being an out lesbian living in my southern, conservative, Catholic, African-American household.

The workday went by realitvely smoothly. Around 3 o'clock that afternoon, all of the women in my office gathered in our lobby for their daily chit-chat. You should know that every woman in my office has been married to a man at least once and they are all well over 35. Therefore, the conversation quickly turned to men.

Before I knew it, I was fielding advice about how to choose my future husband and being bombarded with questions concerning what kind of man I liked. I was trapped. I had just come out to my parents and had been fielding my mother's ridiculous questions for the last three days straight. I didn't think I could handle dealing with the same thing at work. I choose to wiggle out of answering the questions at work by smiling a lot and acting super shy.

Once the chit-chat subsided, I went back to my desk and replayed the situation in my mind. Should I have come out? I decided that I'd done the right thing. This job was only for three months, I reasoned. It wouldn't hurt anyone if I kept my sexuality out of the workplace for three months. And at my next job, I promised myself, I wouldn't hide. Being out and visible is the best thing the queer community can do in terms of teaching America to accept us. If your mom or sister, dad or brother, son or daughter, neice, mentor, employee, crush, or friend is gay and open about it, you are forced to consider your stance on gay issues because you realize that they affect someone you care about. It is imperitive for the queer community that we be seen.

Well friends, three months came and went. At the end of month three, I was presented with the opportunity of turning my temporary job into a permanent position. With calls still coming in daily from my mother, asking "why [I] choose this lifestyle" I decided to take the offer rather than move back home.

I'm sure you can guess where this is going: I've now been working this job for ten months. Chit-chat still occurs every day at three and I'm still fielding advice on how to date men and choose a husband. Despite the poster of an equality sign on my office door and the fact that I took time off to get to Capitol Pride early, no one's picked up on my homoawesomness.

Last week I went out of town with my boss for three days. For her, it was an opportunity to get to know me better as a person as opposed to as an employee. For me, it was three days of listening to relationship advice and wondering why I was continuing this charade of being straight. I could tell the women in my office about my sexuality now, but then it looks as though I've been lying and hiding who I am for months. However, with my beliefs on the importance of queer visibility, is it ethical for me to keep hiding who I am? Friends, it's a mindfuck.


Todays Point: It is a struggle to be authentic. To be transparent and true to who you are as a person, you've got to push to be the most sincere and honest you that you can be every effing day.

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