Jun 19, 2011

[Technicolor Musings] The Importance of Coming Out

June is Pride Month, even without a decree from the Philippine government. It's a time when the local LGBT community celebrates our diversity and our right to live our lives as we see fit. It's time to celebrate love but mostly its a time to celebrate who we truly are.

Flickr: soozum - gwb's gay adventures in the homophobe closet
gwb's gay adventures in the homophobe closet
by soozums via Flickr.

And yet it remains a big question within the LGBT community whether or not it's important to be out. Can one still be proud while still hiding in the closet? Can only truly claim to be living the gay pride dream when you're still hanging out in Narnia?

Thus in today's Technicolor Musings, let's try and tackle this little concern, shall we? It seems a good a time as any. And I know I wrote a related piece about coming out last year, but it never hurts to revisit a topic as important and relevant as this one.

Now for the record, I've been out of the closet since 2003. Admittedly the circumstances of my coming out where initially not quite within my control, but I certainly made up for lost time after that. Since then, I've made sure to keep my sexuality out in the open. Thus in my nearly 8 years of working in the BPO world, I've always been clear with everyone that I'm a gay man, and quite proud of it.

The biggest reason behind my decision to take this particular path in life despite the perceived risks is the fact that I got really, really tired of the closeted life. Being in the closet means taking on a alternate identity - one where you're gay and the other where you're supposedly straight. Thus you end up building two separate lives, both supported by lies of varying degrees in a very volatile house of cards that's bound to come down. I found staying in the closet to be horribly stressful - one can juggle so many things for so long.

But one I had relieved myself of that self-imposed burden, the feeling of lightness and liberation was simply put - amazing. Suddenly there was no more need to lie, no more need to keep my stories straight or to come up with elaborate excuses. It mean being able to focus on living one life - my own, and the right to be genuinely happy about everything that made me, well, me. And that means both the geeky bits and the gay bits.

Flickr: homelystar - closeted-sign
by Amy / homelystar via Flickr.

Admittedly, there's a bit of a thrill with being in the closet, whether we're ready to admit this or not. The challenge of living a secret life as a straight individual while still trying to explore the gay side of your life can be quite the adrenaline rush. You'll get all the near-misses of being caught on the phone with a trick or your mobile phone text messages being perused by a family member or whatever. We all know the hi-jinks and antics that come with the closeted life.

But it's also a life being lived in fear. Fear of being caught or fear that someone else will reveal your big secret to those you love. There are those who feel their jobs will be at risk should the truth be known or fear being disowned by their families. And so people hide and start compartmentalizing their lives. It means using pseudonyms for your mobile phone contacts in order to hide the identity of your partner behind a girl's name or something of the sort. It means dressing one way with your friends and another way when you visit your folks. And many times, it means making fun of your fellow queers in front of your straight peers in order to keep up appearances. At one point or another, being in the closet has required us to do or say some nasty things all in order to keep up a farce.

I think my mom asked me the most relevant question in that shaky period after the truth of my homosexuality came out - "Aren't you tired?"

Flickr: julesreyes - Painting on pride
Painting on pride
by julesreyes via Flickr.

Aren't you tired of lying? Aren't you tired of hiding who you really are? Aren't you tired of building more and more elaborate stories to hide the undeniable truth? Aren't you tired to not being able to share the things that make you truly happy with those you love? Aren't you tired of hiding the love you share for your partner from your family and friends? Aren't you tired?

Coming out is always important since it means living your life and not some made-up story. It means being yourself and being able to live with yourself. It means being happy about who you are and it means being able to share your happiness - no matter what form it takes. It means finally standing up for who you are and being able to proudly acknowledge the truth - that you're gay, or that your bisexual or that you like girls or that you dress up in drag or whatever.

It's not about shoving the gay agenda down everyone's throats. It doesn't mean insulting your parents. It doesn't mean making your mother want to kill herself. It doesn't mean being inconsiderate of the reputation of your family or something silly like that. It means none of things.

Coming out is about you as an individual. It means believing in yourself and accepting yourself and wanting to move forward in life. It's not about needing to be gay in exactly the same way everyone else does or how everyone else expects gay men to be. If you want to dress up in women's clothing, then do so! If you just happen to like guys but not like "girly" things, that's your right! If you want to juggle both boyfriends and girlfriends, so be it! But what's important is that you deserve to be YOU, and that's never something that can be taken away from you.

It's Pride Month people - the best time to accept who you are and to be proud of that. It means reminding the world that we're no different from everyone else - we're still people with hopes, wants and dreams.

And we deserve to be happy just as much as the next person.
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  1. i guess not all of us are lucky to have the chance that you have in coming out of the proverbial closet. tired? i think i am still comfortable in my narnia. but rest in the comfort that in the side lights of pride month, with pompoms, too, i will cheer for everyone in the whole spectrum of this technicolor world. happy pride month!


  2. I hope a time comes when your circumstances allow you the chance to come out as well theSaint. The closet can get pretty comfy, but it never beats the real world ;-)