Yesterday I used the word ‘partner’ about Mark, instead of being honest and call him ‘husband’. Then I corrected myself and used the right term, and had to deal with coming out for the hundredandfiftyeleventh time that day. I had to handle this stranger’s over the top assurance that he was cool with me being gay. It’s ridiculous.
That reaction is every bit as grating as straight up homophobic abuse, to be honest, although one has to clench one’s teeth over objections because protesting means being quite the arsehole.
It is someone’s attempt to defang “a situation”. Except that the defanging means that the ‘situation’ is one where we’re not as legitimate as heterosexuals. Except that the default that warrants that reaction is one where I’m weird and flawed. Except it’s also someone’s attempt to be nice, and positive, and tolerant. Except… Except…
Except it doesn’t mean it’s not grating on the nerves too because the reaction reminds gay people of their inferior status, and that gay people need heterosexuals to reassure us that we do in fact fit in. That we’re all right, after all. That we need to be reminded that we’re all right. But the truth is, that equality will only come when we don’t face this external validation of our worth.
Living in the closet is like living with the life of a pseudonym. That you’re living the life of an entirely fictious character that sounds like you, and looks like you, but which has a carefully constructed history designed to cause as little offence as possible. It is a state which slowly poisons you, as the fictious character and the real one slowly fuse so that you’re trapped inside a shell of lies and can’t get out.
Some part of your mind sees the shell there, filled with those carefully constructed lies which needs to be maintained at all times lest someone finds out the awful truth about you. And that free part of the mind is despairing because as times goes by, it becomes more and more helpless and more and more unable to break free as the years gel the lie into the concrete form which is the huge fat lie that is you.
If you live like Mark and I then, you have to come out all the time to complete strangers who make faulty assumptions. Then you have to correct those assumptions, or let it slide. If you correct the assumptions, you get the over the top reaction, and you’re showered in validating noises. If you are tired of coming out and let it slide, you’re slipping into that other life, the lie, that pool of poison because that’s how it starts.
It will be like when that twelve-thirteen year old boy or girl, who realises he or she fancies their own gender, hum noncommittal replies when a friend talks about fancying this or that celebrity. This is that small compromise with the truth which leads to vocally and explicitly pretending to fancy some singer or athlete. And that’s when you’re off, because you don’t want to be caught in a lie,. The lie then grows and grows in significance, until the worst thing that can happen to you is that the lie becomes exposed. It becomes end of the world stuff. So you slog on with the lying. Crafting that persona which will be what everyone expects of you.
Except being open also makes you come out a hundredandeleventy times a day when you’re not in your own little carefully created life bubble. Sometimes I’m glad we don’t live on campus. Sometimes I go down on my knees and thank the dogs that we have this bubble far away, into which both of us can crawl and live our real lives where we don’t have to constantly guard ourselves against the little quick and dirty compromises which sets us on the path to ruin.