Out of the closet and into the fire: the fear of coming out

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I ask the question, what has been the most frightening experience you can think of? The realisation that the essay you haven’t started is due in the next day?  Waking up in the middle of the night from a noise in the kitchen when you are home alone? Witnessing the creepy animatronics on the ‘It’s a small world ride’ in Disneyland? Personally, nothing has made my palms sweat more profusely than uttering the three words:  ‘Dad, I’m Gay’. ‘Coming out’ is the moment in a homosexual’s life where one must balance up the odds between the possibility of their family and friends disowning or accepting them and it is a daunting, dualistic decision.

Despite the huge progress that has been accomplished in equal rights for the LGBT community, it is no wonder why there are still those who, in fear of prejudice, hide within the comforts of their ‘closet’ doors and lie to those around them. One cannot blame them, it was only a few generations ago in Britain, where not only was homosexuality illegal, it was punishable by death. So it made sense to hide away but, let it be known that, these closets that appear so hassle-free and comfortable at first (perhaps in my case because of all the fur coats) will ultimately become your prison when that door is locked shut by confining a part of yourself; limited by living a lie.

We must break out of our comfort zone if we are to ever be free. How can we truly be ourselves when we never allow part of us to shine? How can we expect adventure if we never step out of the comfort of our symbolic furniture? Moreover, how can we expect to experience one of life’s paramount purposes, a relationship of true love with someone else, be it man or woman, when we refuse to have a relationship with our true selves?

I must admit my ‘coming out’ story is nothing special; as much as I would love to tell people I had to endure Herculean labours in order for my family to accept my sexuality, the truth is I didn’t. Despite this, I still regard ‘coming out’ as one of my greatest achievements and I honestly believe that, whether you like men, women or both, you owe it to yourself, and significant others, to let that rainbow flag proudly fly.

Oscar Wilde, a man imprisoned for being gay, once claimed that “Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal” and he is right, I hope there will be a time where “the love that dare not speak its name” (as Wilde was forced to defend) will not be something to cause stress or fear so that all those who create a false façade to hide their love will feel comfortable enough to show the world their true selves.

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