Saturday, September 08, 2007

Still the Jail Keeper...



I commented on Playasinmar's blog the following:


I am the jail keeper. I hold the key. It's just the way it is. I'm in prison and so is my secret. Deal with it...

But, as I become more "known" in this community, I'm sure it will be only a matter of time before someone opens the door to expose me curled up in the dark corner crevices.

For the most part, I hope when that day comes, I'll be okay with that. I wish it didn't have to be this way. Can anyone see how it can be any other way? *sigh*


John G-W responded as follows:


I hate how discussions of the closet sometimes end up seeming so guilt-inducing. There's nothing particularly righteous about coming out of the closet, and nothing cowardly or wicked about staying in the closet. They're both just coping mechanisms, plain and simple.But I notice that when folks like Beck or Forester who are still in the closet to everybody but their on-line friends post, they almost seem apologetic about being in the closet. I'm not sure who they should feel apologetic to...

Why am I so apologetic for being in the closet? How come I feel guilty in this community for admitting so and not being "liberated" or "true to myself" or "open and free". Am I somehow cheating? Am I not GAY enough if I'm not willing to come out? I mean, am I trying to have it both ways -living a heterosexual life out there, and a homosexual life in here? Am I somehow unworthy of both communities? Unfaithful to both communities? Am I a half-breed? If I'm not truly "out" then I must surely be short-circuiting my life on both sides, right?


I hate the dishonesty argument with a passion! For some, that is what it comes down to - that us closet dwellers are perpetually dishonest with ourselves. I never purposefully deceived my wife, and have become more honest with her as I've become honest with myself - but that doesn't mean I must now be "out". So, in a sense, I've brought her in with me. And for now we are coping - and for the most part doing quite well. When the time is right (as it had to be for me to bring her in to this world) for other family, friends, etc. to be brought in, or for me to come out - I will. But, why do I feel so apologetic for not doing so now? For somehow not measuring up or in some way disappointing more liberated MOHOs.


Is there something inherently wrong with the way those of us who are still "in the closet" are living our lives?


L questioned why I don't come out more to my Bishop and gain strength by being "out" to priesthood leaders. I ask myself that as well. But I also ask - why should I? Is it necessary? Is it worth the risk of being misunderstood? What if I'm labeled or ostracized or shunned? What if my membership record gets a big red "H" on it to brand me for future reference for maybe not so sympathetic or inspired leadership to come...


OR


Maybe I should come "out" and would receive further love and comfort and support and counsel...


Am I just a coward? Does this come down to fear? Am I the perpetual fence-sitter?


This community has given me that stepping stone to begin the self-realization process and the "coming out" process. For that I am grateful. Some dear friends hold keys to my secret. If they so choose, they can "out" me at any time. I appreciate their friendship and trust that they will respect my confidences until I am ready... if ever...


I am trying to be as honest as I can with the circumstances given me. I'm not 23 and in college anymore. And when I was, the world was a very different place. There cannot be a comparison of one verses the other.


I look at a dear lady who was recently baptized at the age of 80. She was a "closeted Mormon" in the neighborhood for years. And when the time was right, she made the decision to come out of the closet and join the church. I don't judge her for taking the time necessary to take that step. I don't look at those "lost years" as years of wasted opportunities. I just am grateful that she is now happy where she is.


One thing I have learned from all of this is that I am a slow learner... So give me some time. I'm still coping! I'm trying to deal with this as best I can, in my timetable with my circumstances. That must frustrate some, but that's too bad. I think I've made a hell-uv-a-lot of progress in the last couple years. And I've got a hell-uv-a-lot of road to go...

18 comments:

J G-W said...

First, I totally relate to what you said about feeling vulnerable to accusations of mixed loyalties... I often have the same feelings about my relationship with the Church. I love the Church and I have a testimony, but I can't join because of my commitment to my partner, so there's part of me that always feels vulnerable to accusations from both sides... Gay activists who might feel I am a traitor for wanting to affiliate with a Church that has taken such a strong position against gay rights; and Church members accusing me of hypocrisy for not leaving my partner. To me there is no treason and no hypocrisy -- only loyalty and integrity. It's the rest of the world that won't let me be true both to my partner and my Church. But in my heart of hearts there is no conflict.

You are caught in that same crossfire. The problem is not your unwillingness to be true to yourself, it is the world's inability to deal with you in all your beauty and complexity.

Beck said...

Thank you for putting that in perspective for me. There is a sense of disloyalty to all sides when you are caught between two opposing views.

You, of all people know how true this is! Keep shining the light and showing the way. Even if I'm in the closet, I can peak through the keyhole and still see your light shine.

Kengo Biddles said...

You know, Beck, even though I'm letting people know about me, it's much as you're seeing for yourself, trusted friends who know and not much else.

I don't think you should announce at every business meeting "I'm gay!" as a preface. I think you're finding a middle road that works for you. I think that we all need to find what works for us, end of story.

Elbow said...

Please! Don't worry anymore about being in the closet or coming out of the closet. When it's right, if it's right then you'll know and you'll feel it and if it's not ever in your path then that's ok too.

What is really the issue, and what is really important is that you're happy where you are and you feel that where you are is where you are suppose to be.

I say...live your life, own where you are, and be glad that you are out of the closet prematurely.

I love you, man and I miss you even though we have never officially met face to face.

Elbow said...

typo...

*aren't out of the closet...

playasinmar said...

Being in, being out, moving in, moving out... to each his own, I say. Really, it's a 100% personal process.

Nevertheless, I still stand by this statement, "Homosexuals hate the closet."

Beck said...

KB: "I think that we all need to find what works for us, end of story." That's true, but why does it feel like there is a prescribed path to be taken and if you aren't exactly on it, then something's wrong and you feel apologetic or guilty?

ELBOW: "I love you, man and I miss you even though we have never officially met face to face." I love you, too. Let me know if you are passing through Utah again!

Beck said...

PLAYA: "Homosexuals hate the closet." I agree with this statement, to a point. I hate that there has to be a closet, but I'm also grateful that it's there to help as a coping mechanism thru this transition period... I hope when you say you "hate the closet", you're not also saying that you hate the closet resident!

playasinmar said...

No, I do not hate the closet resident.

santorio said...

to me it's a cost-benefit analysis

many people would be hurt if i came out because they would feel (rightly) that i have been dishonest through the years. they would apply sexual stereotypes to me and the resulting misunderstandings could take years to correct.

but, you say, they would forgive me, praise my courage, blah, blah, blah. forgive yes, forget, no.

and the benefits? at this point it time, i'm not sure.

30 years ago yes, today no. i'm okay with that and don't really think about it much. just another distracting "what if"

J G-W said...

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting the theme of the talks was "honesty." I was thinking about and wrestling with this as I listened to the talks.

I was thinking about the fact that not telling all we know is not necessarily dishonesty. Uncovering truth is sometimes a process by which both speaker and hearer of the truth need to be ready to receive the truth being uncovered. This works both in relation to doctrine, but also in relation to personal truths. (Meat and milk and all that good stuff.)

The most important truths can only be uncovered in a context of pure love.

I don't think this is mere sophistry...

Abelard Enigma said...

Is there something inherently wrong with the way those of us who are still "in the closet" are living our lives?

Yes! But the fault lies not in us - but in the perceptions of those around us. You mention that the world was a different place when you were 23 - and that is true. Many things have changed (for good and for bad); but, some things have remained pretty much the same. Many people still associate homosexuality with promiscuous sex, drugs, hedonic lifestyles, and pedophilia. And, probably more than anything else, it is those perceptions that we fear people will have of us that keeps us in our closets.

I for one believe that there is some validity in the argument that being 'out' enables us to be more honest with ourselves. But, as santorio points out - it's a trade off. Sadly, many of us are faced with a difficult choice: Which is more important? Being honest with ourselves; or, not being ostracized by our family, friends, and acquaintances.

Beck said...

SANTORIO: "...to me it's a cost-benefit analysis..."

Some may look at this as a very pathetic way to live your life. I look at this as very pragmatic for those of us in the well past our 20-something period. It is what it is and keeping the costs down and the damage low is very much a valid and honorable approach that should be accepted as working for you (and me).

Beck said...

ABE: "Which is more important? Being honest with ourselves; or, not being ostracized by our family, friends, and acquaintances."

That is the million dollar question. Of course there is more honesty in being "out", but at what cost? And is it really necessary? And if it is, then when should it be necessary? And who should dictate when - if ever? And should there be judgment if it is early or late or never?

These are questions only I should answer individually - and I ask for patience from the "community" as I do this.

Abelard Enigma said...

These are questions only I should answer individually

That is absolutely correct - nobody can answer these questions for us. But the good news is that there isn't any rush - there is no timetable that dictates these kinds of decisions. Take your time and do what is best for you and your family. If other people think they would do differently if they were in your shoes - well, perhaps they would, but that is them and this is you.

GeckoMan said...

This is great discussion.

I also agree with pragmatism. We're certainly under no obligation to divulge details of our personal lives for the sake of 'honesty.' I agree that after having set a long precedent of 'straightness' in the church, to 'come out' could be totally misinterpretted.

However, speaking from my recent experience, selective 'coming outs' have been quite positive for me and my family. Since I've included my oldest daughter and son-in-law into my circle, we talk less in B&W superficialities, and more in the richness of living color: introspection and analysis is multi-faceted and more sensitive. I'm not always the topic of conversation--they are more open about there own dilemmas as well. These are true benefits: I've not only enjoyed more openness and understanding, but it has caused my family to dig deeper into the gospel and consider what is really true in their own lives in order to appreciate what I'm dealing with.

Beck said...

ABE: Yes, there is no timetable... I just wish I didn't feel like there was a deadline I had to meet.

Beck said...

GECKO: Thanks for your example of "how to do this". Since there isn't a manual and no "one right way", it is good to share how others have done it and lived to tell about it... even with positive results.

I know I worry more than I should about others' reactions. I still am who I am and that should be good enough. But, somehow it doesn't always seem good enough to others - and I shouldn't worry about them, but pragmatically, I still do.

Thanks for the discussion!