You hear the complaint quite frequently; Why do you have to talk about being gay all the time? Can’t you just leave it be? You can see the point in theory: Who would need to announce to virtual strangers that they were any kind of ‘minority.’ Isn’t that just inflating a point and shoving it into people’s faces, which can increase existing or potential resentment?
We could argue that even needing to ‘be out’ and admit to being gay isn’t necessary and causes negative-attention, but if this is your observation think on this: Everyday people get out so that others can, causing a chain-reaction, until eventually, what was once considered unnatural, is considered natural. That’s because exposure to things that are unfamiliar, resolves underlying anxieties more than any academic discourse achieves.
I am often asked: When you can’t physically hide being a ‘minority’ you have no choice, and if you do have a choice, what’s wrong with taking it? I lived in the closet on-and-off for a variety of reasons for several years and got so used to not being harassed and tormented that it became a false comfort. It resolves nothing and the shame when you understand the absence of honesty, runs deep. Change comes from a desire to engender change, in the words of Eckhart Tolle: “To love is to recognize yourself in another.” Gays need to exist openly to give non-gays opportunity to see we’re no different.
When we look at racism, studies show racism actually reduces when African-American’s moved into previously exclusively white neighborhoods. But it didn’t happen immediately. The immediate response was one of resentment, anger and prejudice, and white Americans resented the influx of African-American’s initially. But in time, that resentment gave way to acceptance and even integration. It took the courage of those black families deciding to move into neighborhoods that didn’t warmly welcome them, it took the courage of their staying put and not letting prejudice run them off, to effect change.
Much of this is about gays being able to hide, whilst other minority groups like African-American’s cannot. There is a reason why gays should not hide, because in hiding we are one less face fighting the good fight. Why a fight you may ask? Because if a gay person were to really ask for equality they still would not get it, if gays were to ask to be accepted for who they are, some would, and some would not. And as long as that inequality exists, our voice must protest its existence or nothing changes.
As gays we may not run the risk being led-away in chains in the US today, but go to another country and there’s no guarantee. It doesn’t mean as gays we can walk the streets proudly without fear of reprisal, and that would include any city in America. Sounds a lot like Benjamin Franklin’s famous perspective: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” In other words, we should ask: Is it brave to hide and weak to protest? And if so, when did that become normalized?
As long as any type of inequality exists, all gay people remain a minority who have somehow to justify ourselves. People roll their eyes, espouse that we should shut up and stop talking about it and things will surely get better, but as history tells us, this rarely happens. For example, every time women make this choice, they take a step backward, same with any minority. Exhibit a; the increase and normalizing of pole-dancing to keep husbands content. Would the original Women’s Movement of the 1970’s have approved or thought this progressive?
If you are not convinced, look as the relative silence of Hispanics in the US as a good example of why they do not have the voice of African-American’s despite being in greater numbers. If you don’t speak for yourself, who will? If you don’t believe in equality for yourself, who will? And most of all, if nobody will defend you, who is left but yourself? I think of the quote by Jiddu Krisnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well—adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Better by far, to change what ails, surely?
Ask any Hispanic in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about a necessity for equality, ask any Jewish person in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about the Holocaust. When did our society become so intolerant to historical truths? Perhaps it’s the old adage, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it? Our lack of patience for realities, past and present, says more about our lack of compassion. Is it because until we experience things for ourselves we cannot see the value of anyone else’s perspectives?
In an increasingly selfish society, change comes best when people see it and are forced to live with it. Parents of gay children, people with gay friends, tend to become slowly more habituated and tolerant of gays even if formerly anti-gay. But ask yourself, is it enough to be ‘tolerant?’ True change is where we stop seeing differences as potentially negative.
During the years, like many others, I’ve been told I’m a pervert, I’m psychologically ill, I’m a man-hater, I’m afraid of true relationships, I’m just reacting to childhood abuse, I’m in a phase, I’m disgusting, I’m obviously a child-molester, and many other things. I’ve had female friends who are afraid of me, thinking I will molest them, and male friends who want to “sex me up” to help me learn the value of heterosexuality. I’ve done things I never thought I would do just to be, who I am. So if we talk about having to explain who we are, it’s really the gay person who is pushed to justify why they are gay, especially as it’s still considered by many to be a choice.
Being gay has always existed. Penguins can be gay. It is one of those things you wouldn’t wish on anybody in the way it’s currently handled in societies throughout the world, but you can’t really say you would wish it away, because it’s like saying you wish you weren’t who you are. Even in this so-called-world of liberated values, gays are killed every week, in certain countries I would be put to death, in others I would be set upon, in others I’d be spat at, in others I’d be jailed.
Just think about that for a moment. When it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry those that did get together, had children who were shunned by both groups. How is it very different for gays who continue to lie to families who would otherwise cut them out of their lives, or lie to their employer so they would not be squeezed out? Or are unable, despite the length and value of their relationships to marry, whilst heterosexuals who have just met, can marry at the altar of Vegas.
Being gay isn’t all hunky-dory just because there are some laws that protect us. In fact often after the passing of a law, anti-gay sentiment rises up, out of frustration. See France as a recent example of this and the anti-gay under-current that exists in relatively liberal Canada. For every step forward, there are many steps back. Think how it would feel to know mass protests occur because people hate you and think you are unnatural? In many countries and states, gays cannot legally adopt, we are treated as inferior, unequal, unnatural and still can’t be the normal we know we are.
Even those who profess to be comfortable and accepting, often aren’t quite so and this makes it very hard to trust people and know how much you can share with them. I didn’t sexually desire my female friends, and most gays aren’t more lascivious than anyone else but if you watch the news, most anti-gay rhetoric labors the point that gays can’t be Boy Scout Leaders because they are sexual deviants and other stereotypes that are so wide-spread as to be commonly accepted by the majority. Usually gays suffer higher rates of depression due to these subtle undercurrents that undermine personal value and security.
Ask yourself; if you were gay would you feel comfortable walking hand-in-hand or kissing in public as you would if you were heterosexual? Let’s not forget when everyone’s relaxed, how funny jokes are that involve gay-themes, but imagine how those jokes would be received if they were racist? Why is one widely accepted and the other not? What is difference in the root of prejudice of both? Not having equal rights under law, is like the law saying you are not worthy of equality, and as the Supreme Court when reviewing gay-issues recently questioned, maybe it’s too soon for equality for you! Since when is equality ever too soon?
It is just as hard being a person of color, being a woman, being disabled and a plethora of other things, but few would feel it were justified to say a black person had no right to bemoan his or her inequality, and if they did say that, there are laws to protect that person and labels to explain their prejudice. Few would be proud to admit to being racist, but many would think nothing of being labeled a homophobe, it’s almost a badge of honor.
That said, many inequalities exist, and that does not justify the existence of any inequality. I am often told, well there is still inequality for people of color and women, as if somehow that justifies inequality of any type. Surely like any chain-reaction, equality should come from every sector and merge together to create a strong river of change. That’s one reason all minorities should see the value of others.
Let’s not forget people who worry, equality for gays will open the door to equality for polygamists, pedophiles and other deviations. They argue that such predilections could be eventually sanctioned on the same basis as gay equality. I disagree on the grounds that being gay does not harm anyone and multiple marriages can.
We could argue this forever, but ultimately it comes down to the validity of a harmless relationship versus one of unequal power. Yes all relationships are subject to abuse and we’re going to see negative portrayals of gays, things we’d never sanction, but that’s no different to the negative portrayals of heterosexuals and speaks more of human fallibility.
Currently there are no laws to protect gays. We can be fired for being gay, we can be imprisoned in certain countries for being gay, we can be thrown out of our house and lose everything including the right to make medical decisions and attend the funeral of our partner. This happens, it happens far more than anyone realizes.
When the family of one gay person is anti-gay and that person gets sick and needs constant care, the family can remove that person and deny access to their partner, no matter how many years they have been together, this isn’t protected in those places where gays are not able to marry or have a civil union. Should we really be grateful for some equality when the only equality that truly matters is full equality?
I ask that if you can’t see why equality doesn’t yet exist and should exist including all forms of equality (such as being able to marry in a church regardless just as blacks have demanded the same rights in marrying in formerly racist churches or ones who would not permit interracial marriages) adopt and many other things, you consider now.
Initially I saw no reason to ‘force’ churches to accept gay marriages because I felt they had the right to choose whom they wanted to marry. I realized that if I were a black man wishing to marry a white woman it would be wrong for a church to turn us away, and validate the negativity of prejudice, and that’s why the law protects such racism. Surely this must equally apply to gays or we’re saying our right to avoid prejudice isn’t as necessary.
We can’t stop with just the first step of equality; it has to exist as much as for you, and you, and you. For all of us. For all those who will come after us, so one day a child is born into a world that hopefully doesn’t know what inequality is. Yes at times that will be repetitive, even boring, but it’s necessary in every struggle for equality, and if we make it fashionable to keep our mouths shut and just hope for the day things change, we will be waiting a very long time.
28 Replies to “Why stay out so long?”
Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
TheFeatheredSleep – The point of being out
Robert Ringer in his book Looking out for #1 says it all. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should be, or live your life. It’s that simple. Nice post! thank you.
🙂 (I am thankful for you my friend)
This is excellent, and important.
Excellent! We’ve been seeking this equality for decades! Each generation brings us all closer as we/they grow and become voters and lawmakers, etc. You are right on with the ‘two steps forward- one step back’. One day… great post!
I long for a world where no one cares whether you’re gay or not. That would truly be the best outcome because no one asks me if I’m hetero. I never have to declare it, then justify it, then be in fear for my life because of it. I’m lucky, not because I am not gay, but because I am hetero, and that really is wrong. Why can’t we all be lucky because we’re all human beings who get to be wherever we happen to fall on the sexual scale without scorn or judgement being poured on us? Why can’t we simply NOT CARE about this stuff, and just accept one another for exactly who we are? You’re gay. SO WHAT? I’m hetero. SO FREAKING what? It really. Does. Not. Matter. (Or, at least, it shouldn’t.)
As usual, Candice, you’ve written something I can wholeheartedly agree with. I’m so glad to have read this. Please keep writing your truth. We need to see it. We need to embrace it. We need to do better, and it’s people like yourself that can show us the way.
Great post – you are who you are, you like what you like, you are attracted to who you are attracted to..too many judgements in this world.
Bravo, C. 👏🏻👏🏻
Really interesting, Candice. You touched on fear but only as far as releasing pedophiles etc. I believe that promoting sexuality in all forms scares some people. For example, “If you teach my child that being gay is okay, they may become gay.” Which if it wasn’t so ludicrous it would be laughable! I have also heard an argument that some young people are gay because it’s fashionable! I mean, really? The saddest thing my wife says to me is that not everyone is like you, Charlie. That’s a pity because I don’t care what someone is or isn’t. Everyone to me is a human and I treat as I find, There again my mentor when I was 18 told me 75% of the planet are wankers, which is a great statement to relate when there are 4 of you in room lol. I think you are a beautiful person, keep raising awareness and we hope for a better future xxx
You have much of importance to say, and do so with your usual eloquence. I only regret that it is necessary for you to do so.
Power to the People, especially the gay ones! 💪🏼🌈💪🏼
Candice, I think this is the best thing I’ve read so far this year. So completely accurate, on-point and eloquently written.
It pains me deeply to see the struggle so many have to be seen for who they really are. I just don’t understand if two people love each other, isn’t that a beautiful thing, irregardless of gender or race or religion. We still have so far to go, but at least there is more of a platform from which to speak. Be authentic. Be yourself. And the irony is that in spirit we are all androgynous anyway, so why should we care. Be well.
Thank you dearest friend for your reading of this and your thoughtful words which always strike me close and with purpose as you are the woman of purpose and wisdom always.
Thank you so much dearest Karen
Agreed! Agreed! Did you ever get a copy of SMITTEN my friend? I wondered what you thought of it? xo
So well said.
All of this.
Another of 1000 reasons I adore you.
Charlie, thank you for reading this long diatribe I really appreciate it and your friendship and you
Thank you SISTER I love you
Thank you so much dearest Braeden I am extremely grateful to you
Thank you so much! I really appreciate you reading this xo
Thank you so much dear Mandy for your kind and appreciated words – really appreciate you
And I love you right back, C. This is outstanding!!!
I bought TWO actually- one for my ex and one for me. I LOVE it; it’s by my bed; I dip in and out of it whenever I feel like it 🙂
You worked so hard, well done- and I gave it a 5 star review on Goodreads too 🙂 x
A double dip on this posting: I believe that it is up to me. I.e. It’s my responsibility to view, see and accept what is presented to me. If I have an issue on whether you are gay, black or whatever, essentially different than me; then it I who have the problem. I can not lay the blame on you for being who you are. We all need to step back and ask who am I?
My pleasure – it’s the truth!
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