We need empowering stories, especially in the non-conforming division. We need empowering stories on self-determination. On sexual freedom and orientation. We need empowering stories to rid ourselves from socially induced shame. Fortunately, you can find a lot of them online. On how to come out to your friends, your parents and your workplace for example. Yet every time I am reading these stories, I ask myself, why does anyone have to be, stay or even live in a closet? A lot of people could call the closet their second home. That’s how well they know it. Because even if they’ve exited their closet, one day or another they’ll be pushed back in, so they have to open the doors again and come out.
The act of Coming-Out is not a one-time event.
Whenever you meet new people, you meet them closeted. Then you will find the right moment, or not, and open the doors again. To me this allegory demonstrates perfectly how absurd the act itself actually is. When I talk about this to my niece, she doesn’t understand why anyone is in a closet in the first place. The Coming-Out itself has been romanticised in the past, youtube videos have been made, formerly straight celebrities announced their homosexual orientation with heartfelt grand gestures and then everyone knew. Coming-Out to the world. A one-time event. And it is empowering and beautiful to see someone coming out like it’s their super sweet sixteen on MTV. But for most people it is not necessarily the reality.
You’re not gay until I know you’re gay and you know that I know you’re gay.
The other absurd thing about coming out of the closet is that if you are not coming out, you are not homosexual. As if your homosexuality needs to be heard by others to be confirmed and proven true. Of course, that goes for all other non-conforming sexual orientations, gender identifications and ways of living. When you start thinking about the logics of the act itself, heteronormative people would be living in closets all their life. They don’t ever have a coming-out. How could they just naturally live outside the closet, if they never came out? A dark and cramped world that would be. The non-conforming world, nature, queer humans, they are the courageous ones that break free from the darkness of the closet and live in the light.
Closets and Caves
Let’s play around and go one step further; what if the closet is a symbol for Plato’s cave? Heteronormative people being the prisoners, stuck in the cave, only able to see one story that is being told a certain way. The shadows that tell the story are their reality, because they have never seen anything else. They do not realise that the story they see and hear is merely shadows of objects in front of a fire, let alone that these objects are inspired by real things outside the cave which they do not see. It is not an easy task to escape the cave and once you have made it, there is the challenge to accept the new outside:
I’m Coming Out
Plato’s cave allegory might be a bold comparison and I’m not saying our way to enlightenment is to become lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, non-binary, or anything outside the heteronormative world. I’m not saying all queer people are enlightened. But I do believe in experiencing the world with an open mind and heart, in challenging fixed patterns and structures, and educating yourself on views different from your own. No one should be forced into a closet and we should not need a sexual orientation default. Why does sexual orientation even matter to society? Why do we love categorizing and thinking in stereotypes so much? If we could agree on loving people instead of a certain gender, we could all dance outside our closets together. Let’s open the doors.