Queerty Wants To Know: Why Are You Still Closeted?

Salon’s news editor Steve Kornacki just wrote a slightly heartbreaking article entitled, “The coming out story I never thought I’d write.” In it, he explains that he stayed closeted until age 31 despite having a wonderful boyfriend because he identified so much with the “old-fashioned family men” who were his role models growing up and didn’t want people to see him as gay.

His story hurts because it sounds very familiar. It hurts all the more because it made us realize that there are probably other Queerty readers who aren’t out of the closet yet either. And we’re wondering, why?

First let’s share a bit of Kornacki’s must-read column in which he describes his boyfriend Dan and how life in the closet affected their relationship:

Dan was attractive, smart and funny, with a manner that was cool and relaxed. He could be quick with a playful verbal jab. I shared my dreams, my failures, and my many irrational fears. He listened and cared. When I’d feel sorry for myself, he’d give me a kick instead of pouting along with me. If I needed a boost, he’d pick me up. And when I’d start taking myself too seriously, he’d find a way to make me laugh at myself. His instincts were perfect. I trusted him completely and drew tremendous comfort from him. He wasn’t outwardly sentimental, but sometimes he’d let his guard down and let me see his vulnerabilities. I felt close to him…

Sometime in late 2010, [my boyfriend Dan] began telling people he was gay. His parents visited, and he invited me to meet them. I wouldn’t. He’d text me while hanging out with friends he’d told and ask me to tag along… The minute I told someone, anyone [that I was gay], there’d be no taking it back…

You may be wondering why I was so afraid. It’s 2011, after all, and I live in Manhattan, surrounded in social and professional settings by gay people. It’s not like I come from a morally judgmental family… But 17 years of fear and hang-ups can be hard for a person to shake…

It hurts now to think how long Dan kept trying – how long he kept believing in me even when I disappointed him repeatedly… I hate what I put Dan through, and I hate that I deprived myself of a chance to be with the person who made me feel proud of who I am…

There weren’t a thousand little reasons why things had ended up like this. There was one big one. If I couldn’t stand up to the fear that had gripped me since high school, regret would become my permanent condition.

It’s common for an intimate partner to help someone realize the importance of coming out, but all too often LGBTs outside of the closet forget the thinking and fear that drives many others to keep their sexual identities behind closed doors.

So our question to you: if you’re closeted, what’s keeping you there? And if you’re not closeted anymore, what helped you come out?

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  • Christopher

    A homophobic government and society is keeping me in the closet. Greeting from the wonderful Eastern Europe! …

  • Johnny Q Doe

    Ah, In and Out of the closet for me.

    I’m out to my friends and family and all over social media, but I’m a PeaceCorps Volunteer, probably not far from Christopher. Living in the closet was tough, going back was worse.

    I decided to come out to my family when I realized it wasn’t fair to a potential future partner or my family to come out when there was someone I wanted them to meet. So I told them 5 years ago, and I’m glad I did (even though there has yet to be someone for them to meet).

  • Trent

    @Johnny Q Doe: I also am out in the states (actually just told my Grandma’s 2 weeks ago in an email) but I am also a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa so I am in the closet here.

    Most people here would not necessarily care that I am gay; but it is still illegal here. So I have to put on a straight face.

    The Peace Corps closet is a big one and it is a struggle to go back in; but c’est la vie.

  • Pierre

    I’m out of the closet from june 2003 at the age of 32. I’m a frenchman living in Paris, France. These are not the worst conditions to be gay and to get out of the closet.

    My mother has always been very clear on the matter, only considering my well-being and self-fulfillment. My father and his father have never been very clear about their sexual orientation. Talking about that matter have always been problematic, even talking about it from a medical point of view: saying the words “prostate cancer”, “amenorrhea” or “breast” have always been problematic. (For those who don’t know, amenorrhea is the medical/biological word to say the stop a woman’s period because of the begining of her pregnancy). It’s the “things we don’t speak of from the region of the body we don’t speak of”. Once at a luncheon, my grandpa spoke about a terrible rape story breaking the news nationwide. I was 10 and I didn’t know what it was all about. It was ok for a while and they came back on the matter. Finally, I found it so boring I asked the meaning of it. My grandpa who started that discussion fled to avoid the subject. It disappointed me.

    The partnership between my parents was not very joyful. I don’t think my father wanted my mother. I think my grandpa wanted his son to get married so there would be no question about his sexual orientation that would raise no further question about his own sexual orientation. Some kind of selfish behaviour from my grandpa. My grandpa could have terrible frightening angers if disappointed. So my father pleased his own father and married the woman his father may have asked him to marry.

    My parents splitted but never divorced. So my grandpa got very angry against my mother. I was close to my mother so my relation to my grandpa deteriorated badly. When my grandpa was close to his death and losing his mind (at 90+) the only person he could clearly remember “out” of his family was my mother he didn’t talk with for decades because as he said, he was furious against her. It could be considered as weird or meaningful.

    My parents splitted, I was 16. I lived it badly and my grandpa was trying to establish a bad relationship between my mother and me. He was living in Paris, I was living some 450 miles from there. I felt like coming out of the closet but my grandpa would have been odious XXL with me. So I kept it all secret but I was unable to. So I started a nevrosis (scared by everything). A dark moment in my life. Girls tried to flirt with me but I was scared to death by women’s sexuality, I just couldn’t cope with it. So I had to keep them hanging on. Some of them later told me I hurt them. They hurt me to. I never had the opportunity to chat with any of these girls since I came out. I sent them a letter, they didn’t reply. I could have started gay relationships. But I was scared by the reactions.

    In 2002, I fell in love for a gay who might have been straight. Until I spent blue nights thinking of him. Painful. I decided that I could not remain in this condition. One day, I decided to go and chat my mum. She said ok on 3 conditions: “Are you gay or transexual ? Because if you are transexual, tomorrow we call a surgeon and we consider the intervention for your sex change. Second condition: Don’t catch aids, it’s too difficult for me to cope with it, if you do, you’ll no longer be my son, we all know how to avoid catching aids. Third, you can do whatever you want in your gay village, I don’t mind, I don’t even want to know but if you are not transexual, I want you to behave like a man in the street we both live in”. Those three conditions were obvious to me.

    I could only say to my father I was gay two years later when I was in a relationship. The coming out session ended when my father, not at ease, told: “Hold on, I have to see if the chicken I’m cooking for lunch is not burning in the owen…” He had the same behaviour when my sister told my father she had a boyfriend. No comment (on my father’s behaviour, obviously).

  • shle896

    I don’t think it’s fair to expect or criticize those who remain in the closet. Everybody’s experience and situation is different.

    Thankfully I’m lucky enough to have great family and friends and an employer who accept me for being who I am. But some others may not be so lucky.

    Sometimes it’s a good idea to stay in the closet until the proper time. For instance, if you’re a teenager and your parents are very anti-gay, perhaps it’s best that you wait until you’re out on your own before coming out. And the same thing applies if you fear you’d lose your job for coming out. It might be best to find another job that doesn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation before you come out in the workplace.

    That said, I also believe that the vast majority of us (at least here in the U.S.) find that coming out is a big relief and much less painful than we expected. A lot of times, our friends and family already know we’re gay, but they’re afraid to bring it up.

    I do encourage everybody to at least come out eventually, if for nothing else, to show the world that we’re nobody to be afraid of and that we’re just people with the same needs and wants as heterosexuals.

    Whatever the case, I hope that nobody gives up. We’re being more and more accepted and we’ve come a very long way in just the last five or ten years. It WILL get easier for everybody eventually.

  • JDSwell

    I was 27, married to a woman, and a practicing attorney. The final event that set me off was when a middle aged man came in looking for representation because he had been arrested in the mall bathroom for the second time – all the youngsters can think of it as a late 80, early 90’s version of Grindr – and all he cared about was serving any time in jail during the week so he could let his wife think he was on a business trip. Suddenly all of the doubt, religious oppression, and selfishness – yes staying closeted is selfish – were revealed to me and I knew I had to be honest with myself and the world. That was over 15 years ago.

    Looking back, my biggest regret in life – the one thing I cannot fix – is all of the time I stole from myself and my ex-wife because I didn’t have the courage to be honest.

  • Kyle

    I came out when I started to read about so many people who were shunned from their families and thrown out on the streets, but they were still happier being out. I think it was a season of the Real World that really hit it home. I knew that my parents or friends wouldnt disown me, so I owe it to myself and them to be honest and happy. It wasn’t easy to tell everyone. But it was worth the tears.

  • FreddyMertz

    I like the smell of moth balls and cedar.

  • Rey

    I came out at 20 in 1989. I was a junior at Boston U. A couple of times during the spring semester I tried to muster the courage to attend the LGBT campus organization but was too scared to make that leap. Then I saw the movie “Maurice” on campus.
    Watching the desperation, longing, and isolation of the closeted main character was like looking at a mirror. I came out soon after; it had become too painful to stay in the closet.

  • adam

    we like to talk of being out, and of being openly gay, as if it’s black and white, either/or, when in fact we have varying degrees of invisibility that differ with the person, the career, the situation. many of us are beholden to others or owe our livelihood to forces that do not wish us to acknowledge our sexuality publicly. many of us could not afford to live in a gay ghetto, work at jobs where we face the public and represent a whole company instead of just appearing as our gay selves, and don’t feel any more at home in gay bars than in straight establishments. it’s more complicated than just “in” and “out,” and applying peer pressure toward closeted folks who aren’t ready or empowered to come out, worsens rather than helps the situation. let people come out in their own good time and as they are able, queerty, instead using pointed questions like “why are you closeted?” to enforce the conception there’s only one way to come out as gay.

    ~ peace

  • Stace

    I would stay closeted because its makes all the man sex all that more deliciously taboo and “wrong.”

    But I’ve been out since my teens because a lie is a lie. The US isn’t a country where you’re executed by the state for having sex with a same sex partner and it is precisely because many brave men and women before us made that pivotal decision to announce their sexuality in the face of often murderous circumstances. But this country still is not one where you are not subject to violence or discrimination because of something that has nothing to do with anyone else except the person you’re with. And it has changed and will continue to change because people make that choice to come out. And it is for no one else but yourself that you love all of who you are even if others don’t and refuse to accept that you do not deserve the same dignity and respect every human being deserves.

  • Mav

    I came out as transgendered to my immediate family last year, after I turned 25. [I was disowned briefly, but reconciled with my family pretty quickly because we’re so close.] Anyone seen the episode of Family Guy where Quagmire’s dad comes out as a trannsexual and Quagmire was all, “C’mon, just be gay.” That makes me laugh so hard because his reaction was EXACTLY like my family’s reaction. They could handle a gay kid (barely). But they were completely blindsided by having a kid come out transgendered.

    I’m not out to my extended family (at least I haven’t confirmed it to them, I’m sure they have their suspicions) and I’m not out to my coworkers (I’m sure my sexual ambiguity is grist for the rumor mill). If anyone asks – or if I am propositioned by guys I don’t interact with on a regular basis – I tell them I’m gay because it’s less complicated than explaining the transgender thing, and a lot more socially acceptable. Saying, “I’m a straight guy trapped in a woman’s body” makes me roll my eyes even when I just say it to myself. It’s easier to tell people I’m a butch lesbian because it describes my sexual orientation, which is really what people are interested in knowing.

    As far as I’m concerned, they can draw their own ideas about my gender identity from my mannerisms, my clothing choices, and my general self-presentation.

    I also came out to my boss in a performance review last November, a few weeks after I came out to my family, to suggest that we needed more GLBT protections in our corporate anti-discrimination policies as well as equivalent insurance coverage for same-sex couples in the company. He agreed, and now we do. Our HR woman read my review sheet, and I’m sure she has spread the word that I’m gay because she’s the type that can’t keep a secret for half an hour.

    I do run into conundrums every once in awhile. A guy I work with was jokingly telling me that I need to sleep with his friend (another one of our male co-workers) and I just kind of circumvented the topic, laughing and trash-talking his friend about being “damaged goods” (he’s a recent divorcee) when it would have been just as easy for me to say, “Sorry bro, I don’t swing that way.”

    But I didn’t.

    I try to tell myself that I don’t go around wearing my sexuality on my sleeve because I enjoy the ambiguity, but it’s really because discussing my sexuality with anyone that I’m not actively sleeping with makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think this has anything to do with being gay, I think it’s just modesty.

  • stoopid louie

    @FreddyMertz: Best. Response. Ever.

  • Cam

    “”but all too often LGBTs outside of the closet forget the thinking and fear that drives many others to keep their sexual identities behind closed doors.””

    And once again this author never misses a chance to get a dig in at the gay community. Seriously there are some issues there.

    No, we don’t forget the thinking that keeps people int he closet. We realized that often that thinking is wrong and self fullfilling, and that the world didn’t end when we came out.

    If you are a 16 year old kid with homophobic parents who are supporting you and paying for school, absolutely, stay in the closet. If you are a mid 30’s professional living in Manhattan with a wonderful boyfriend, and some hazy idea you have of being gay is more important to you than the relationship with the man you supposedly love, I don’t have nearly as much sympathy. Those aren’t real barriers, those are self created ones.

  • Cam

    @Mav: Great post!

  • greg

    it depends on the situation and mainly its a question of survival/safety. although as i get older, survival has come to mean less about personal comfort and safety and more about honoring my own truths–survival of my integrity and spirit, i suppose you could say. all of us who have been in the closet have been so because of social stigma and fear. there have been enough murders and attacks in this country to send the message that it is still not safe to be out. there are enough dangers already, to be out in public holding your boyfriend’s hand or kissing him, or out at work is the equivalent of putting a target on your forehead and telegraphing to all the violent, psychopathic homophobes where you are. social stigma is very much alive thanks to the bible and its vilification of homosexuality; it may be 2011 but there are still many self-described christians who quote the old testament and use it as an excuse to promote hatred. not all of them, but enough of them to do the damage. there are still homophobes at the head of companies who would think nothing of dismissing the faggot in the ranks….and cite some other reason. it is still very dangerous to be out for many of us, and while i fully support the idea of everyone coming out at once, the reality is that the consequences of such are not something that every one of us is able or willing to pay. today and older, i care less what people think and more about how i feel with my own comfort zone which has become about not pandering to people’s bigotry…

  • jmopnyc

    At 30 now I came out at the age of 18. It was mostly because I couldn’t control my ‘sexual urges’ anymore and I didn’t want to have to worry about looking over my shoulder all the time if I was out with a guy. The pressure of having those feelings since puberty was enough to weigh me down so I reached a point where I couldn’t bear that anymore. Coming out was the most liberating feeling I have ever had and the clarity that came with it was astounding, not just in the gay world, but life itself. So much so that if I could do it again, I most certainly would.

  • Interesting

    Came out at 23. I am now in my late 30s. I mostly say people should be out unless it means economic (as in out on the street or working class) danger or physical violence. I can’t think of any other reason not to be out. The rest of just cowardice.

  • Interesting

    Re: People’s “own time.” That can also be a basis for encouraging cowardice. There is a difference between forcing someone to come out, and saying they should come out. The straw man is to argue that advocating that they should that this is forcing someone to come out. People aren’t always able to master their own fears. Sometimes they need to hear constantly from others that being out is okay. In fact, it makes being gay an integrated part of your life rather than this “other” I always say that I am not post gay or anything else like that. I am “integrated gay” that just means its a part of the total package of who i am and not being in the closet allowed that to happen. Being afraid is not a virtue.

  • closet case

    I can’t choose to be gay but i can choose how i present myself to the world. Call me a coward. Call me a self hater. Call me a homophobic hypocrite.

  • Dallas David

    I grew up in a sheltered environment, and didn’t quite understand what “gay” meant until I was in Air Force basic training (1975). Of course, I went into denial — had to, just to finish that and make it through tech school. After that, I had time to sort out my thoughts and feelings, and went through the usual fears that God hated me and etc. It took about a year to decide that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, and living in constant fear of being discovered by the Air Force wasn’t, um, “right.”
    To make a long story short, the process of getting kicked out of the military was neither easy nor pleasant, and I promised myself that I would never again hide in the closet. I’ve kept that promise. There have been times that I didn’t volunteer the information, but every time people asked, “So, how come a good-looking guy like you isn’t married?” I’d say matter-of-factly and without hesitation, “Because I’m gay.”

    Over the years I’ve seen lots of closeted gay people here in Texas. Some were closeted so they could stay in their grandparent’s will, some were closeted from force of habit, and some beleived their sexuality was a flaw for which they’d eventually burn in hellfire. I feel sad for them, sorry that they don’t have the courage/freedom to be themselves. But I understand . . . If you’re brought up to think there is something inherently wrong with glbt sex, and you discover that you like it, it’s easy to assume that you’re flawed.

    Anyway, I’m out and open largely because coming to terms with my being gay made me so angry at having to come to terms in such a hostile anti-gay environment, that I made it a point to NEVER hide ever again.

    Best to all . . .

  • Interesting

    @closet case: If you are going to be a coward, at least be man enough not to whine that others are being mean to you. Now, you are also a whiner.

  • the other Greg

    I’d seen Steve Kornacki on “Hardball With Chris Matthews” and immediately thought he was gay – my gaydar is better than I’d thought!

    Have to agree with those here who say “closet vs. out” is somewhat of a continuum. Steve is a public figure, writing under his own name, appearing on TV, and so on. Almost none of us commenting here on Queerty have Wikipedia entries or ever appear on TV (as openly gay or otherwise).

    Notice the irony that 22 of us have commented here and not one of has used our full first AND last names, or been required to (unless someone is really named Fred Mertz). We’re discussing different types of openness and closeted-ness. Depending upon the situation, our responsibilities to other gay people are different.

    So what Steve has done is important and I give him credit for it.

    And yet, his Salon article is troubling in several respects:

    – Gee, he likes football a lot! That’s not normal. Do gay people who hate football have an easier time coming out?

    – He takes his family way, way too seriously. (Especially the male members.) Maybe this is part of the problem. Do those of us who grew up not giving a shit what our families thought about anything – especially the males – have an easier time coming out, in general?

    – He wasn’t bullied as a kid, despite being small (and probably, having glasses then too?) – hmmm… I’ve never thought of it as a “plus” of any kind, but do those of us who were bullied as kids maybe have a slight incentive later to come out?

    – Steve is an editor at a politically liberal publication, and is from a politically liberal family (who in this case, he didn’t take seriously enough, for once!), and yet he STILL took Catholicism way, way, way too seriously! I don’t get this; most of my Catholic boyfriends were working-class and uneducated, but none of them took it seriously… not the sex stuff anyway.

    – which raises the subsequent thought – Do those of us who grew up with politically right-wing families have an easier time just rejecting them and coming out? Has there been any polling done on this subject?

    – In his twenties, despite having had a supposedly great education, he had a rather extreme phobia about HIV and “social disease” (! – quote), going beyond sensible caution, that prevented normal sexual experimentation and went into the territory of self-hating homophobia and even misogyny. His reported comments to friends in his 20s, where he seems to (pretends to?) hate women, are jaw-dropping.

    – I really think he should see a psychiatrist about that football stuff.

  • Cam

    @closet case: said…

    “I can’t choose to be gay but i can choose how i present myself to the world. Call me a coward. Call me a self hater. Call me a homophobic hypocrite.”

    How you present yourself to the world? That would indicate that you think there is something wrong with “Presenting” as being gay. That would make you self hating. What would you call a light skinned black person who pretneds to be white because thats how they want to “Present themselves”?

  • ke

    Closet cases = homophobes. Even the nice “pro”-gay closet cases. They might as well vote no on gay rights, which I’m sure they do or have done.

  • the other Greg

    @ke: Oooh yeah, you’re so “out” here we don’t know your first name, or even your gender for that matter. Nice work!

    Closet cases = homophobes. Even the nice “pro”-gay closet cases. They might as well vote no on gay rights, which I’m sure they do or have done.

  • Interesting

    @Cam: Modern closet cases want their cake and to eat it too. They want to be in the closet to take advantage of heterosexual norms while whining about how unfair out gays are to point out that they are adding to homophobia and that the closet case is a coward. No, now, we are supposed to pretend its a valid choice rather than an immoral one unless there is a competing moral argument like one’s life being in danger or one losing one’s job in the working class.

  • MatthewScott

    I read that article yesterday and it made me so sad. To see my Gay brothers struggle with something that can really be so wonderful. I think in some ways those of us that didn’t fit into the gender stereotypical world and were thus never totally “in” the closet, coming out is an inevitability. I knew I was Gay at 16 and told a friend (in the 70’s!). I was out by 18. By fitting into straight guy world as well as Steve does, there’s no crack in the closet door for people to see the real you in.

  • Eric

    I stayed closeted until I was 39 out of fear. I had married young in an attempt to blend in with the straight world. When I turned 36, I was a divorced single father, a high-level executive and completely miserable. I was so afraid I was going to lose the life I had built. One day, I woke up and realized that the life I had built wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I knew I needed to come out. So, in a flash of confidence, I came out to my family, work and children. There were tears and questions, but at least I was being 100% honest with myself and them for the first time ever.

    I am now in the best relationship I’ve ever been in my entire life.
    My family and children love my partner and treat him as a second father.
    I would never have been the man I am today if I hadn’t gone through my closeted period.
    But, I also regret not letting go of the fear sooner in life.

    The issue that evolved with me was that I felt like I would be ostracized by the gay community for staying in the closet for my adult life. So, that pushed me further into the closet. My partner came out in his early 20’s. He helped me understand that I wasn’t an outcast and that the choice to come out is personal.

    All I can say is coming out is the hardest, most emotionally draining, most wonderful and freeing thing you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to come out to the entire world. Just saying, “I’m gay” aloud helps a little because it takes it out of your head. If you don’t know any gay people, try to locate your local LGBT center. Just taking a few steps helps.

    The one commonality we ALL have is that we started this process in the closet. We ALL understand the fear. My best to those in this struggle right now.

  • Drake

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life” (Steve Jobs) Living in the closet is living someone else’s life.

  • Meowzer

    I came out at the age of 21 when I met my then boyfriend/was partner/ now husband. I realized that after school – the torment of high school and college – that I could have a life as an out man. I realized that the bullies who ruled my life were no longer there.

    So, when I moved in with my partner at age 22, I had already come out to my mother and anybody else who meant anything in my life. I lost friends and family who just didn’t understand or want to understand. My father was already deceased, but I don’t think he would have been accepting then. I’ve grown to believe he probably would have come around though.

    My partner did not come for a very long time though. Just recently actually right before we got married. After 25 years together, he still felt like it wasn’t “the right time” to do it. I tried to convince him that anyone who really knew him had figured it out a long time ago. No two straight men live together for that long, sometimes in a one bedroom apartment, aren’t in a relationship.

    He is 14 years older than I am and I think he comes from a time when it still was a “bad thing” to be an out gay man. He is proud of who he is, but he’s not big on sharing aspects of his life. He would acknowledge it if people specifically asked, but he wouldn’t call me his partner… just his roommate. It bothered me for a while until I just accepted that he wasn’t ready to make the announcement. His parents and one of his sisters “don’t know”, but I think it’s convenient for them because he’s really never said the words “I’m gay”.

    I didn’t know what to expect when I came out. My Mother was very supportive and wasn’t really surprised. The family that I lost I really didn’t care about losing.

    Personally, I didn’t find it hard to come out, but that was me. Everyone has a different experience and stays closeted for their own reasons. I just feel that by being out and proud, living a normal suburban life, and having a professional career, I can show the general public that not all stereotypes of gay men are true. We can be anywhere and anyone you may know. I want to feel like I could be a trailblazer for other gay men who may not know HOW to come out and not know who to turn to. I have helped two co-workers come out because they saw they would not be ostracised in the office and not lose their jobs.

    All in all, I would like all gay people to be out, but understand that’s not realistic. However, as long as there are enough of us making a presence, it’s a small help for those struggling.

  • SteveC

    I came out at 18. I was living in rural Ireland with my large catholic family. I came out to my friends first and of course they were supportive (in fact the 1st person I ever told that I was gay, pleasingly replied ‘So am I!’ – I lost my virginity the same day.)

    Some months later I told my sisters and they were fine (one of them said to me ‘Well why on earth did you used to mock Martina Navratilova for being a lesbian?’)

    When I was 20 I came out to my mother. I was no longer at home and it felt right. Although I was terrified. In a fit of dull cunning I had the house cleaned from top to bottom by the time she got home from work, to get her in a good mood. Then it started:

    Says I ‘I came home for a reason today. I have something to tell you.’
    Says she ‘What’s that?’
    Me: ‘I’m gay’
    She: ‘Are you? And how long have you known?’
    Me: ‘Since about 13’
    She: ‘And who have you told?’
    Me: ‘My sisters’
    She: ‘Well they’re able to keep a secret after all! And do you go to gay bars?’
    Me: ‘Sometimes’
    She: ‘Well I hope you’re having safe sex. Oh look the vegetables are boiling over!’

    That was it. She was always good about it.

    I never came out to my father which I regret as he died when I was 26.

    I’ve pretty much always been out at work.

    I’m out proud and happy in all areas of my life now, aged 36.

    However the only time I closet myself is if I get a Facebook friend request from someone I went to high school with. I hide all gay-related posts from them.

    This is irrational, I know.

  • Caliban

    Putting your full name out on the internet has NOTHING to do with with being “out” or “closeted,” so f**k off with that little bit of BS. There are very good reasons for not doing so from potential stalking issues, work related problems if opinions on certain issues are known, spam, identity theft, etc. So that’s just a red herring.

    I came out to my parents at 17 in the 1980s. Every place I’ve ever worked as known eventually. I saw no need to announce it but it became obvious at some point when talking about plans for vacation, what I did last weekend, or whatever.

    I don’t think ANYONE is advising others to come out in a dangerous situation or if you are relying on homophobic parents to give you shelter or, for that matter, to help you pay for school. But at some point it does come down to honesty and courage. If you continue to hide your identity in deference to others you are on some level accepting that their beliefs and opinions are correct, more important, or take precedence over your own. You are living your life to suit other people instead of yourself. You have to ask yourself, “When do I get to live MY life?” The people around you aren’t waiting for your approval to live their lives as they see fit, so why should you wait for theirs?

    I understand the fear. I was a “bullied” teen. But if you ever expect to be partnered is it really reasonable to ask someone else to live your lie, to pretend to be “roommates”? If you want to be respected for who you are can you reasonably expect that when who you are is a guilty secret?

  • Mav

    “Notice the irony that 22 of us have commented here and not one of has used our full first AND last names, or been required to (unless someone is really named Fred Mertz).”

    ^ I don’t use my full name on anything concerning the Internet unless it is a published piece I actually want to showcase to people. That way when people [read: potential employers] Google my name, as employers so often do these days, my publishing credits/resume are the first things to come up in the search engine and they don’t have to sift through every stupid comment I’ve ever made. I doubt highly people that are considering my services want to know my non-professional opinion on the perfect blueberry muffin or that I think Geekologie is lolz.

    I’m glad that Queerty doesn’t require that you put a full name in order to comment – on websites that DO have that requirement, I simply use an alias.

    Have a problem with our privacy policies? Please email all comments to [email protected].

  • Henry

    Putting your full name out on the internet has NOTHING to do with with being “out” or “closeted,” so f**k off with that little bit of BS.

    That’s true, Charles Rozier has his name on the internet, and even though he’s been an out bisexual tranny (pre-hormones, pre-surgery) for a long time, he ACTS as though he’s still in the closet. In fact, he acts as though he’s still a virgin, as though there’s something unthinkable in one man sucking another man off. He talked to me and behaved like I was a Martian for wanting to suck him off.

  • ke

    @the other Greg: I’m on a message board “Greg”. I was going to go with “2cute2bebelieved”. I think I still might.

  • John

    I recently came out in my late 20s and I have to say, I’m offended by all the people on here who think it’s their place to tell me when to come out. How incredibly judgmental! I came out when I was ready, not before, not after. Why is really none of your business nor should it matter. I see that it would be different if I were in a relationship, but I wasn’t, so I wasn’t hiding it from anyone, I just wasn’t offering it.
    I think there’s also something to be said about never taking it back. I’m bi and a lot of women wouldn’t touch me if they knew that. So coming out as bi basically means I voluntarily narrow my pool of possible dates, mates or wives. Why would I do that?

  • Henry

    @John: Don’t worry, I think there are very, very many bisexuals who are too afraid to stand up for the cause. You are not alone.

  • o

    @Henry: I hate men like that. Charles Rozier is deeply into BDSM (writing poems about spanking his wife, wistfully calling himself a rapist) but he’s not FREAKY at all. He’s a prude dom. Is that common for doms?

  • Caliban

    @John: It’s only that last bit I have a problem with. You don’t owe a possible wife (I notice you don’t mention a potential male partner) the honesty that her future husband is bisexual? It’s OK for her to walk into that situation blind?

    Absolutely people should come out when they’re ready, but in a way there’s a comparison to be made between “coming out” and virginity. While virginity is understandable, maybe even a good thing, in your teens and early 20s at some point it’s probably dysfunctional, a failure to embrace the full spectrum of life experience, to take chances and establish intimacy. A 20 year old virgin? Perhaps that’s someone who’s just careful and wants to make the right decisions for themselves. A 40 year old virgin? Someone who probably has “issues.”

    The same thing applies to coming out. At some point between 20 and 40 being closeted goes from “not being ready yet” to just sad. Nobody is going to live your life for you so maybe you ought to gut up and live it for yourself.

  • greg

    i think it is sour grapes to point fingers of accusation at those in the LGBT community who are not yet out and who may never be out. what makes your condemnation of their personal choices in how to live their lives any less despicable (and possibly more for your having been there) than every homophobic hater who has gone out of their way to persecute us? perhaps your level of self-righteousness is indicative of something else, because it certainly doesn’t feel healthy or sound. healthy and sound looks like empathy and supporting those of our community who are obviously not in a safe enough place to be who they truly are in a public manner, and that is something that is worthy of compassion not contempt. and certainly not here, of all places.

  • Henry

    @greg: There’s a cut off time when being in the closet is just ridiculous, self-hating, and counterproductive to the cause. Anyone who ISN’T out by their mid to late 20s is a coward and totally useless.

  • the other Greg

    @Mav: That is a good attitude (IMO) especially in this new world where all these inane comments stay posted literally forever.

    I don’t join Facebook (for instance) because I don’t want my bullies from the ’70s to find me (I live far away from where I grew up), don’t want the morons from my high school sending me reunion invitations, don’t give a shit about my younger straight relatives’ vacations in Cancun or wherever, or worse, don’t want them asking me for money via Facebook when at least they don’t bother to ask via e-mail. Actually it seems strange to me when any gay person is on Facebook, but I suppose that’s generational.

    I was merely noting the irony that posters here were starting to get awfully nasty – in a typically “gay” way, perhaps – about who was closeted and who was not, and to what degree, etc. etc., and every single person was anonymous. It was getting pretty funny.

    Steve Kornacki hesitated to come out because he’s in a public position, he can’t be anonymous – that was the point.

  • greg

    @Henry: that is your opinion, which you are entitled to. however, you must realize that your opinion does not constitute what is right, good, appropriate, healthy or safe for anyone else. your opinion and your choice of words only demonstrates a bitter, hateful, oppressive and repressive attitude. none of which is any more attractive or admirable than the cowardice you describe. when you grow up, and growing up is not about a number, when you grow up henry, you will realize that your condemnation of those who are less than perfect is less about them than it is about you.

  • the other Greg

    @ke: “I’m on a message board “Greg”. I was going to go with “2cute2bebelieved”. I think I still might.”

    Grab it before it’s too late!
    – best wishes, Greg

  • Henry

    @greg, I see. You came up with that bit about compassion because you ARE one of those people still in the closet. The ones of us who came out (and it was as hard for us as it was for anyone else) don’t have much respect for late 20-somethings or, God forbid, 30-somethings, who still have to get past this very basic and early challenge, just like no one in his right mind would respect a 28 year old bed wetter or bottle sucker. There’s a lot of infantilism in the world, most of it fostered by Christianity, and those of us who gave that up hate to see its influence.

  • Mike

    I came out in 1986 at the age of 25. Nothing in my external world had anything to do with my coming out. I had known the deal going on inside of me since at least junior year of highschool, maybe even longer. I had fought it, mostly just like Kornacki, because I couldn’t equate or relate myself to the gay stereotypes I knew. I knew no actual gay people at that time. If I had my life surely would have been different. What brought me out finally was the anguish and frustration that resulted from several abortive attempts at establishing relationships with straight-guy crushes of mine (this started in highschool, continued through college and after). I finally just knew that whether I was like all those stereotypes or not, having sexual attraction to other guys made me gay, so I had better put myself in better circumstances to meet somebody who was more likely than not to share my attractions. That was what pushed me out of my own closet and into the gay atmosphere. Now at age 50, and almost 20 years into my relationship with my partner, I can look back and wonder what silly and baseless fears kept me back. It’s easy to judge yourself and others too harshly in retrospect. Those were the 1970’s and 1980’s after all. It was harder to be out than it is now, by far. And “coming out” has for me been a continual process, not a single event.

  • the other Greg

    @Caliban: “Putting your full name out on the internet has NOTHING to do with with being “out” or “closeted,”…

    It did to Steve Kornacki! You seem to have missed the point of the article.

    From what you say, for instance – you are out at work, but you avoid expressing certain opinions under your full name. Depending on the opinion, would some people posting here consider that to be “closeted”? No doubt. (Not me.) People were throwing around the term “closeted” but few were defining it. Steve K is paid to express opinions on the internet, that’s the whole point of his job.

  • Tommy Shepherd

    People who stay in the closet are just a bit too nice for their own good. They don’t want to offend anyone. They take society’s rules very seriously. They’re obedient little followers who need validation from their heterosexual overlords – they’d make great soldiers (not commanders though).

    I came screaming out of the closet at 17 and have never stopped screaming about it. It wasn’t easy. I had blazing arguments with my parents until I convinced them I was right. My mother became an activist because I had the courage of my convictions and I never gave up. I came out in 1988, in a tough working-class community, and in the middle of AIDS-driven homophobia. It’s a lot easier to do it now. There’s no excuse. Come out – and stop wasting your life pandering to what homophobes want you to do. If you’re so easily swayed by their bullying – then let me bully you instead. At least I’m bullying you for your own good and because I want you to get better sex rather than the furtive little moments you’re currently getting.

  • Gus

    Came out at 19 in 1974. It was a bigger deal for others than it was for me.

  • Kenneth

    I came out when i was 16. It was not easy but being someone that was never really givin a closet I kinda had no choice. I was bullied relentlessly all through school and that just made it hard. luckily I had an uncle that always made it perfectly clear to me that it would get better once school was over and that part of my life was so small in the grand scheme of things (thank you soooo much Michael)My parents (who were not happy about me identifying myself as gay) always instilled in me that I defined myself and no one else can do that unless i gave them that power. Even to this day my father and i get into heated conversations all the time regarding his issue with me being gay and i say his issue because at this stage it is very much his and not mine. I also would like to mention my cousins as apart of my ongoing support and the day i came out they were my biggest fans. So Luckily i had family to help keep the torment that my peers were giving me in constant view of reality. To those children out there that are being tormented and bullied i just want to say that it does get better and to my closeted brothers and sisters i just want to say take you time and be comfortable with yourself before you start to be comfortable with the world. Comfort is such an important feeling when coming out or at least for me it was.

  • ewe

    I never lived my personal life in the closet. I went from a small room to a ballroom. I am who i am and if someone i don’t want to deal with brings up my sexual orientation i just say “don’t get so personal with me. We don’t know each other that well.” I wish i knew to say that simple statement when i was 18, 23, 29, 34, 42 etc. because that sentiment has stopped some ignorant people dead in their tracks and helped me to avoid situations i don’t fucking have time or desire for. The older i get the less anyone even cares what i am anyway so the moral of the story is that it is better when people are talking about you than no one talking about you at all. lol. Being gay is one of the greatest gifts i have been blessed to be. I am able to simultaneously observe within and outside of many situations which has given me great insight i would have otherwise completely looked over. Accepting who i am has made me a better person.

  • ke

    @the other Greg: You too, “Greg”.

  • JohnAGJ

    I was in the closet until my 30s because of when and where I grew up, as well as religion. Faith traditions can be a source of great good but unfortunately terrible evil in the world, as human history shows. For myself it really screwed with my head coming to terms with being gay. Seeing the changes in society over the past 10-20 years has been a big help. I’m out now to family and friends but not at work. I don’t exactly work in a gay-friendly environment.

  • fuzzy

    I’m out some places and not others. Out at one job, but never really had a chance yet to bring it up at the other (which is ironic, because one of the contract people there is a lesbian; never did quite manage to insert myself into that conversation). Out to my friends, what few I have, and everybody’s cool with it.

    Out to my mother, and she’s the toughest one. Doesn’t really believe that I’m bi with generous helpings of asexual indifference… she thought for a long time that being bi meant being poly. The one time I tried to start a discussion about my feelings of gender-queerness, she said the idea was “disgusting.” Needless to say, we don’t really talk about any of it. Another irony, because she’s perfectly fine talking about my gay friend and the family troubles he has because of it. It’s okay when it’s someone else’s kid. I’m not saying she doesn’t love me; she just doesn’t want to deal with it, and that kinda hurts. Least I still have her, though.

    Not out to family friends, or overseas family. The family friends, I get the impression they’re another group who just don’t want to discuss it (and again, the opportunity hasn’t really come up). The overseas family (basically everybody but mom) I never talk to, anyway, so who cares about what they think?

    The area I live in, some people know, some people don’t. Most people don’t know me, period. I’ve never gotten any crap about it, not since I lived in Colorado. I’m not really closeted, but I’m not the type to shove things in people’s faces, either, so I just try to go with the flow. Maybe that’s cowardly, but I never said I was brave about dealing with people. *shrug*

  • Sol Invictus

    I’m a college student with no monetary income (I still live with my parents). I also live in Venezuela, where the Catholic Church and the macho mindset make sure there is little to no legal protection for the LGBT community.

    Coming out now would be pressing the self-destruct buttom of my life.

    PS: English is not my first language. I apologize if I made some mistake.

  • Ahmed

    I would love to come out. At 29 I’m just too fucking tired pretending, but I like in a country where I could lose my job, family and life for being gay. In that order.

    I guess coming out is not for everyone. Sigh.

  • Matt

    Why don’t you ask that question to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

  • closet case


    Maybe I was being a bit dramatic and came off way too defensive. Everyone has different lives so everyone needs to make this decision on their own. Coming out is hard for everyone, but in some cases it is harder than others. So, don’t be too quick to slap the ‘coward’ label on closet cases. You are out and proud. I salute to you, but it doesn’t mean everyone else is a coward.


    Closet cases aren’t all homophobes. Really. It is possible they have accepted who they are but could not (out of fear, confusion, religion, etc.) share themselves fully with the world.


    I apologize, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I merely mean, it is my decision how I share my sexuality with others.

  • closet case


    There’s a cut off time when being in the closet is just ridiculous, self-hating, and counterproductive to the cause. Anyone who ISN’T out by their mid to late 20s is a coward and totally useless.

    Bullied because I am gay. Bullied because I am not out. People can be so mean :(.

  • ke

    @closet case: They are the very definition of a homophobe. They fear homosexuality. I’m sure you’re very nice, but you even agree’d with your first post. You said, “Call me a homophobic hypocrite”. So, I did. But, I would have anyways.

  • ke

    @closet case: You don’t care. You’re perfectly content living in the closet.

  • XOJ

    OMG! I’ve had a crush on Steve for years. I looked around the internet to see if he was gay or straight several times. So glad now!

  • TomMc

  • Theo

    What’s keeping me in the closet? Transphobia in society at large, mostly. What especially stings is the transphobia still in the gay community. You only have to look on sites like these to see that it’s alive and kicking. It hurts more than other trans-hate because I’m gay myself. But I can’t even go to a club without being laughed at by cisgender gay men and being called a “faker” and a “desperate fag hag”.

  • tpagy

    My Story is about 20 yrs old at 33 in 1991, I was a Gay Man with a Partner/Lover that had been together for for 13 yrs we met in 1978 and had been living together 2 mths after meeting and we always were best friends to our families. Then in April of 1990 my Mother (My Best Friend) was told she had Terminal Cancer which devasted Me and our Family She was the Heart, I spent most of my time with Her trying to help her come to terms with Her Mortality her dream was to see one of her 16 Grand Children get Married. And then in September my world Crashed My Beloved Partner (David Both our Names were David) Started to get ill We both had been tested for hiv earlier that year and were told we were negative but that wasn’t true David had Aids we decided to not tell My Mom because of what she was dealing with, and then One day after work while visiting my mom she said I had a visitor today and i asked her who She said it was David my heart was in my throat by that time he was very Ill but what she said next amazed me She said you need to be there for him because he Loves you so much do not turn your back on him and I promised I would be there for Him on Dec 30th 1990 my Mom lost her fight and then 4 months later my First Love Lost his fight why i wrote this is you Never know how long we have I lost most of the people in my Circle of Gay Friends/Family by the end of 1991 and then in 1993 something amazing happened the God of my Universe brought an amazing person in my life Gary and we went to The March on Washington that March and participated in what was Called the Wedding in Front of the IRS Building and that was when I Became a Proud Gay Man never to Close the Closet Door ever again and dare anyone to try.

  • closet case


    In most cases, closet cases don’t fear homosexuality, they fear how everyone else looks at their homosexuality. Big difference.

  • ke

    Defending cowardice isn’t anything to be proud of. So, I don’t know. Good luck, buddy.

  • Cicatriz

    I was 17 when I first told anyone that I was gay. It was my best friend. Earlier in the night he had asked me in front of a few mutual good friends, on the topic of setting me up with a girl he knew. I don’t know why but I hesitated and denied it in front of everybody. That same night I drove him home and when we were alone I told him. He was very supportive, I came out one by one to our circle of friends, doing it individually and talking it over with them. My friends were mostly straight guys and nobody had a problem with it. I was very lucky.

    It took me longer to come out to my family. Leading up to me coming out to my friend, the summer before, I found my brother in the middle of a suicide attempt, my dad lost his job, blew our savings, and my mom became deeply depressed as their marriage imploded. She slept in the basement, took harsh anti-depressants, repeatedly begged me not to leave her alone in the house for fear of what she might do to herself. My brother pulled himself together and went off to college. I was 16 dealing with a father in denial about his family’s imminent fracture and a mother who didn’t want to be alive anymore. How was I supposed to drop the news on them in that state? I really desperately wanted to come out, but I felt selfish for putting my needs before theirs. I internalized everything. I started running at night, more and more each time, every night. I started eating less until I started eating nothing at all. I still ran, more and more. I almost blacked out a few times in the middle of the street. I weighed 103 lbs. by the time I began to have something resembling a normal eating habit again. It’s funny because everybody commended me on losing weight. It was kind of nice at the time.

    My mom got better, my parents did split, but more amicably than I expected. I moved in with my mom when she got an apartment. I told her just shy of my 18th birthday. She was extremely supportive. My brothers followed and they were fine with it. I had told my friends that I wasn’t going to hide anything from anybody so it became sort of an open secret at school. If people knew me they knew, if they didn’t they had probably heard about it. No big deal. My dad was the last person I officially came out to. He made me more nervous than anybody else. He ended up taking it very well, his only concern being my having to face hatred and prejudice in my life.

    I was very lucky. Since then I’ve lived openly as a gay man in every aspect of my life. There are situations, such as entering a new workplace or social setting, in which my first instinct is to ‘tone it down’ (so to speak), but I’ve never denied being gay if anybody asked about my personal life. For those situations I have an “I won’t discuss it unless asked” kind of mentality. I have been with my partner for five years now, his own coming out experience a harrowing one that makes me realize everyday how fortunate I am. We live with his family, openly among his siblings. With his parents, they know the truth and the nature of our relationship, but it isn’t something we talk about or openly acknowledge. I would never dream of holding hands with or kissing my partner in front of them and they introduce me to their friends as their son’s “friend from college”. They treat us kindly and accept me as a part of their lives and that’s really all I hope for. They even got us a bed for our new place. One bed knowing full well we would be sharing it. It was kind of a big deal, for me at least. I suppose that’s about as far back ‘in’ as I ever have to be. Life is good. It was an enormous relief to be honest with myself and those around me and I wish everybody could do the same. At the same time I understand why people are afraid to take that step. They are no less courageous or honest than anyone else. Not everybody finds themselves in or has the opportunity to create the circumstances conducive to their coming out. There is no time or age or place in life that is universal in terms of coming out. It’s something a person has to decide or find for themselves and nobody should force them unless they’re ready.

  • Lance

    Demonizing people who are still in the closet is disgusting, specially this person who somehow created this arbitrary “coming out limit that ends in your 20s”. These people need your help, not your hate and condemnation.

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but gay people exist all across the world – including non-Western countries. While the severity depends on individual cultures, you have to understand that many LGBT people are not so lucky to live in a “cosmopolitan” city or have supportive families; their communities would ostracize them to no end.

    It really is sickening and tragically ironic to see this kind of discrimination WITHIN a group that is the prime victim of hate and abuse.

  • SteveC

    I outed someone to his family by accident once. My friend threw a party and his friend from work was there. I thought it was a big gay party. Little did I know that work colleague was there with his mum. I arrived late, greeted the host, turned to work colleague and asked him ‘are you and your boyfriend still together’. Then I noticed the middle aged woman next to him. His mother. Her face looked like a fridge after I’d spoken. Oh well. It wasn’t intentional. And apparently they all dealt with it fine.

  • ewe

    @SteveC: lol. i did that to my boyfriend when i was 19 in a drunken argument. I told his younger brother that he was gay and the reaction on his jaw dropping face made me sober immediately. oy. sorry. i mean… can i do a do over. Turns out years later the younger brother is gay too. lol

  • ewe

    @Lance: AND it’s even more sickening to put up with those that ostracize them to no end. They are the ones that need to be addressed more than gay people who want to communicate to other gay people that they need to at the very least love and accept themselves.

  • ewe

    @Ahmed: Ahmed you make me feel somber. The fact that you come out to yourself about yourself is coming out. That is monumental. I think you are very courageous.

  • Wendy's knifed throat

    gurgle gurgle gurgle

  • ewe

    @Kenneth: you are a wise ol sage. Well i don’t about old but a wise sage. Rock on!!!

  • ewe

    @Pierre: That was very charming to read.

  • Wendy's knifed throat

    You made the second reply to Pierre because you wanted my name off the list on the right of the page.

  • closet case


    Your display of ignorance and bigotry isn’t something to be proud of either. You can call it defending cowardice, but i call it understanding. And yes, i just called you a gay bigot.

  • Henry

    @Lance: As the “this person” in your reply, I’ll say that you may have sucked on your mother’s swollen, crusty teat until you were in your late 20s, but the rest of us didn’t. Thank you for informing me that gays exist all around the world – dipshit.

  • Interesting

    Let me repeat: Being a coward is one thing, but this whining along this thread is another. If you want to be in the closet, don’t expect anyone else to make you feel good about it.

  • Interesting

    This thread explains the overreaction to gossip about celebrity closets. This sense that some how the closet is sacrosanct and special about all other things tells me that for many of you being gay is the most important thing you ever did in your lives, which sad, but still does not change the fact the closet is cowardice.

    Oh, and Ewe, what the fuck are you talking about? People don’t want to deal with others in the closet because it often means one has to be in the closet with them. No one is required to hang out with you if you are in the closet.

  • Lance

    @ewe: Of course discrimination should be addressed – that’s what I was saying.

    @Henry: Thanks for proving my point that you do nothing but rely on ad hominem to try and make a so-called point. Get a grip and understand that people live under very different circumstances and your insults and bigotry only make matters worse.

    @Interesting: “Closet is cowardice”

    It may be, depending on the individual. In plenty of other cases, it is done as a survival mechanism.

    No one is saying that being in the closet is a good thing (it’s not because it is ultimately unhealthy), but when you turn around and start pointing fingers instead of trying to see their situation, now THAT’s an entirely different matter.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: ? What are you referring to?

  • ewe

    @Lance: I know. I was commenting on where you chose to use the word “sickening.”

  • Interesting

    @Lance:There are several people along this very thread who act as if the closet is a good thing or should be respected as a good choice regardless of circumstances. In fact, there are some people quite militant about it who will say “oh you shouldn’t even out a politician who is gay, but voting against gay rights.” So I disagree that no one is saying or hasn’t said the closet is a valid choice.

    There are only two instances where the closet is not cowardice: (a) One is in danger of being physically harmed or someone else may be in danger of physically being harmed (b) Someone in the working class or poor (and may be middle class but in that one its case by case because of how broadly people use that sort of economic duress exception) would be out on the street or lose their livelihood. I don’t mean “oh, I may not rise to the top of the company to become the CEO” as economic duress, but instead, “they will fire me if they find out”

    With (b) I don’t count well off gays who are afraid of losing their social circles and I don’t include stars who want to not just have a career but be a star who opens a box office (a la the dude who just went back into the closet because he and his people could not trust that we as an audience ultimately while we like to gossip really don’t give a shit if a movie is good to us).

    So, yes, there are exceptions. But they are narrow and specific rather than open to being about “well my social circle would not accept me or the fears of not being accepted. By the time I came out, I was in the category of scared of my social circle, and I realized that it was cowardice.

    Finally, I am not a pop relativist. I use the term “pop” because relativism has come to mean a kind of pop culture idea where all things are equal and no one should ever have a judgment about anyone or anything else. In terms of favored positions, I am going favor courage over cowardice, and I am going to call it out as such. Am I going to out someone who is a coward, “no.” Am I going to tell them when they make themselves known as a closet case that their choice is valid? No. I am going to say its unhealthy, based in fear and ultimately cowardly because one is not facing one’s fears.

    I am the tough love type rather than I am going to validate every wrong headed thing someone does type.

  • ewe

    This is a great topic and useful to many reading it. I would like to hear the personal stories of more people. Can we please keep it compassionate?

  • Interesting

    @ewe: I am referring to this:

    “Lance: AND it’s even more sickening to put up with those that ostracize them to no end. They are the ones that need to be addressed more than gay people who want to communicate to other gay people that they need to at the very least love and accept themselves.”

    Its not my job and nor is it anyone else to protect the closet of others or make them feel good about it. If I have an opinion on the subject, and it comes up, I am going to say I think the closet is wrong whether it makes them feel good about their mistake or not. And it is , in many cases, except for the reasons I have listed, a mistake. Am I going to out of my way? No. Am I going to act like I am their therapist? No. I am not their therapist. Nor can I really be a friend of someone in the closet if they are not yet ready to come out. We can at best be people who kind of know each other, but don’t hang out. Not if they are deeply in the closet and certainly not if they are of the two separate lives variety because that means work on my part.

    I have friends and they are out. What issues we are dealing with are not at the start of being gay, but now with gay as a part of our lives but not the dominant part. Some of my friends are even “oh my gawd” not gay, and in fact, they know I am gay and again its about the integration. To be of that type of personality,w here gay is to be integrate rather than the center of one’s life means that one has to avoid people who for one reason or another gay is their center. For a closet case, no matter what they say, until they come out being in the closet makes being gay the center of everything they do and how they act. That’s drama that I can understand others not wanting to address, both for moral reasons (that its cowardice) and emotional reason- its a lot of work.

    The only exceptions again for me are those who are facing economic duress or physical danger.

  • ewe

    I am reminded of this guy i met on Craigslist who was so concerned about anyone knowing we were having an “affair” for lack of a better word. He opened up his garage door as he shared his feelings and i looked out into A FREAKIN FOREST!!!! Who in the hell would ever ever see me or him much less come here to look at what was up in the god damn freakin WOODS??? It took all i had to not laugh or slap him across the face and then i suddenly had compassion. Unfortunately not enough to continue the relationship. I told him that i felt that if i respected his paranoia i would be spitting on the memory of so many countless people who died. And that was that. Our paths separated as quickly as we met. I hope he is well in the FREAKIN FOREST WOODS thinking that it matters what strangers and acquaintances are thinking about his personhood. UGH. Sometimes it just drives me batty. The confusion that manifests when it doesn’t have to is annoying.

  • Mike

    I came out 11 years ago when I was 15. I told my dad first, he was in the Navy and gone most of each year until I was around that age, so we kind of had a “apple of his father’s eye” kind of relationship. Actually, the best way to describe it is like “Daddy’s little girl,” except I’m a boy. Anyway, he prized me very much. He accepted it pretty well and if he had issues, he mostly kept them to himself.

    I came out to my mother shortly after and that was disastrous. She went to sit on the patio and cried for four hours, and then immediately called up most of my family members to alert them of the news. We had a strained relationship for quite a few years because of that. At its worst, she wouldn’t let me see my male nephews out of fear that I “may be inappropriate with them.” We’re all Southerners and even though we weren’t horribly religious, the whole culture down here bred a LOT of stereotypes and misconceptions about gay people. Through the years, slowly but surely, my mother’s opinion of me and of gay people has changed to a complete 180. She has visited a gay bar with me, encouraged me to start my own GLBT magazine, and proudly voted to allow same-sex rights in Florida (that vote in 2008 did not pass but it meant a lot to hear that she did it). I think at this point she’s more upset that I “won’t be giving her grandchildren,” and even though she’s come a long way about gays, she still can’t fully grasp the surrogacy option. I don’t think she understands it.

    My brother who’s closest in age to me is very macho and really hates discussing gays or that kind of thing at all. He’s easily still the most offensive one in the family in that regard, but I don’t think that will change. He lets me know he still loves me for me but he won’t even fake an interest in any gay conversation topic. My other siblings are fine, save for one who had an issue and we didn’t speak for five years. She has since apologized and we are now on speaking terms.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: well now it’s my turn to agree with you.

  • gus

    I am not out because I am still married with a high schooler who likes his family life.
    I have an understanding, to this point anyway, boyfriend who is really hot and drives me nuts.

  • isaak

    @Drake: I like what you said it is str8 to the point…I’m currently dating someone that is still in the closet been trying to get him to come out but he has a teenage son still in high school but it time for bf to be himself

  • closet case


    Let me repeat: Being a coward is one thing, but this whining along this thread is another. If you want to be in the closet, don’t expect anyone else to make you feel good about it.

    No. I don’t need you to make me feel good about it. Just don’t make people like me feel bad about it. Thanks.

  • ewe

    @closet case: Do you feel bad about it? It is a sincere question.

  • closet case


    The question is fine. Just don’t appreciate the name calling and quick judgement.

  • ewe

    @closet case: and what is your answer to my question?

  • closet case


    Thanks for the articulate definition of cowardice in regards to homosexuality. Bookmarked for future reference.

  • ewe

    @closet case:I for one do not think people in the closet are cowards. I think people in the closet spend a tremendous amount of strength catering to the perceived thoughts of others instead of your own soul.

  • closet case


    Oh. I see what you mean, i misread that completely.

    I feel bad that i am missing out, but i don’t feel guilt. My relationships with my family is real as if i am hetero. It can be uncomfortable and I am sure there is suspicion (and or paranoia :)) but that is a consequence of the decision i made.

  • Interesting

    @closet case: You are indeed here whining about how we are suppose to understand you and respect your feelings.

    To that, my answer is: No, I really don’t have to respect you or understand your feelings. In short, I don’t care how you feel about it.

    That’s the whining. You can’t be just in the closet. No, you want me to validate it for you.

    If you want to be in the closet. Be in the damn closet. Stop whining because others find you to be a cowards way out.

    Finally, if you are not only going to whine, but start to become passive aggressive you only underscore the point of why I do not deal with closet cases.

    You want us all to conform to your issues. to that, again , be in the closet if you want to, but stop whining by trying to make such a big deal about the fact there is nothing courageous, and in fact there is something cowardly about running away from your fears.

    We all had those fears. its still not excuse.

  • ke

    @closet case: did you not say call me a homophobic hypocrite? You are a homophobe, a hypocrite (now, especially based on this conversation), and a coward. You can call me whatever your little heart desires. You’re still a coward. If calling you a defensive, dramatic coward makes me a bigot-I’ll take it. Good. Thank you. Take care.

  • tram

    I would like to cum out but with Anderson having his tv show and all
    it could hurt his career. So for now we just suckin it up. I should dump that f wad.

  • ke

    @Interesting: This guy said himself ‘call me a homophobic hypocrite’ among other things. He didn’t ask for respect to begin with, and he’s not going to get respect. What’s to respect?

    I’m sure you’re nice closet case, but I don’t respect you. There’s nothing to respect. I respect gay men who are out. I respect honesty. Closet cases lie. They lack morals and integrity.

  • closet case


    You sound very similar to homophobes. let me replace ‘closet’ with ‘gay’ in your last comment.

    You are indeed here whining about how we are suppose to understand you and respect your feelings.

    To that, my answer is: No, I really don’t have to respect you or understand your feelings. In short, I don’t care how you feel about it.

    That’s the whining. You can’t be just gay(edit: in the closet). No, you want me to validate it for you.

    If you want to be gay (edit:in the closet). Be in the damn closet. Stop whining because others find you to be a cowards way out.

    Finally, if you are not only going to whine, but start to become passive aggressive you only underscore the point of why I do not deal with gays (edit: closet cases).

    You want us all to conform to your issues. to that, again , be gay (edit: in the closet) if you want to, but stop whining by trying to make such a big deal about the fact there is nothing courageous, and in fact there is something cowardly about running away from your fears.

    We all had those fears. its still not excuse.

    Sounds like a republican to me!

    I do get passive aggressive. That is me. Not part of your closet case stereotype.

  • closet case


    That is fine, just like how religious bigots hate us gays. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  • Joetx

    Obviously, staying in the closet is an understandable course if: a) you’re a kid, relying on your parents, & there’s a good chance they could disown you; b) you live in close proximity to cavemen who would harm you; or c) you’re not out at work b/c you’re afraid you’ll be fired (which is even more understandable given the state of the economy).

    However, for some, staying in the closet is a convenient crutch. That crutch isn’t forgivable if you have gay friends and/or date people of the same gender (I known people like this). That’s when staying in the closet does become cowardly.

  • ewe

    @closet case: I understand you are saying you can accept the consequences of staying in the closet but that does not address the essence of ones sexual orientation. Of course there are consequences. We all have those. You do not seem to be denying that you are gay so i do noth think you are in the closet as we define a closet. I would like to remind you although you may already know this that there is a profound difference between guilt and shame.

  • ke

    @closet case: when you grow up you’ll understand. Good luck!

  • Henry

    @ewe: Is this one long attempt to put distance between yourself and “Wendy’s knifed throat”? It may be closer to you than you think.

  • ewe

    @closet case: And it is even more rediculous if you substitute the word “gay” or “closet case” with the word “straight.” In defense of Interesting i would like you to know that many openly gay people do feel resentful that they are on the front lines of open discrimination while paving a pathway for others who enjoy the rights they fight for as “closeted gay people” remain in the background their whole lives.

  • o

    Henry, with your death, world history will have lost one of its truly great minds. You’ll die before anyone even knows what’s been lost. And there will be no Great Judgement at which you will have an opportunity to show everyone what could have been, because there is no such thing. Even though you couldn’t scream, then, I can hear the screams now.

  • ewe

    @Henry: I have no idea what in the hell you are talking about but i will ask you to elaborate. Although i am not quite sure i care that much.
    What is it Henry?

  • shle896

    @closet case: Nobody on here knows what is better for you, than YOU. When the time is right for you to come out, you’ll recognize it and proceed from there. It’s your decision and yours alone. We all need to support and respect one another, not criticize and hate. Don’t let the negative comments on here force you deeper into the closet. There’s plenty of mean-spirited gay bitches in the world, but I’d like to think they’re in the minority. Just soldier on!

  • ewe

    @shle896: you may be right but there is some truth in telling people that they may feel quite sad if they live out most of their lives in the closet only to come out to feel they missed out on their lives. Gay people are not telling other gay people who are closeted to come out because they want to be mean.

  • ed03

    I came out in high school, now in college, and wouldn’t do anything differently. though i wished my mother took it differently. it was years, beginning of this year, that she finally accepted it and realize she was hurting both of us. My whole family is accepting and love me more than anything and yes we crack gay jokes. i’m proud of who i am and thankful everyday that my family reacted the way they did and love me no matter what. i just hope america will see the light one day and realize the only difference between straight and gay is we put our dick in the back door. but anyway i hope to work as an activist later in the future to help and spread the smile i wear everyday. i let no one get my down and don’t give a f*** what people think. i’ll marry/love who i want and have a wonderful family with children and continue to be happy.

  • ewe

    @Mike: family is family. I remember when i told my parents i was gay they looked at me and my mother said ” If you choose to be open about that you may have a difficult life.” I am still in awe of the wisdom they possessed with that opinion. I did not give them due credit for that very true assessement. They had great concern and love for me because of who i was to them. They also were aware that the rest of the world did not care for me the same way AT ALL. But it doesn’t matter. I can only be strong within myself if i am myself. And that is universal.

  • shle896

    @ewe: I totally agree with you. Staying in the closet long-term isn’t conducive to a happy life. I was merely commenting on the way some people are saying it. Some of the comments almost sound like bullying, which is a big reason many people stay in the closet to begin with. I definitely encourage everybody to come out when the time is right for them.

    I was so torn up about it when I came out in my 20’s because my only sibling was killed in an accident and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents and while I was going through those emotions and making those decisions it was encouraging words from empathetic friends and counselors that finally gave me the courage to tell my parents. If I had felt bullied into telling them, or felt like I was being shouted at for being on the fence about it, I don’t know what would have happened.

    BTW, my family was 100% supportive and it made us closer than ever.

  • me

    Because. it’s nice. it’s comfortable. and it’s socially acceptable.
    I see no reason to come out now. im a comedian. doing a woman’s voice in a joke would be criticized. that, and i find jokes are less funny or executable if people know anything about you.

    life is like a game. your only goal is to reach the end (your dream) then enjoy it when you get there while everyone else is still playing the game.

    being gay is like pulling out a bad card that will pull you 2 spaces back. that doesn’t mean i have to show anyone my cards. i’ll just hide it and keep on playing.

  • ewe

    @shle896: I am glad you have support and love. I think that is everything and i also think that every gay person thinks or at least wants to be open about themselves. Which means what we are or should be talking about is the pain that some of us are feeling.

  • ewe

    @me: Some goals are expressed in the present moment.

  • closet case


    that they are on the front lines of open discrimination while paving a pathway for others who enjoy the rights they fight for

    Valid point. But, remember they fought for equality. When i come out, i will treat closet cases as equals not cowards.


    The internet can bring the worst in people ;). Thanks for your kind words.

  • ewe

    @closet case: i never said you were a coward.

  • Interesting

    @ewe: I don’t care so much about that as much as trying to pass a vice off as virtue, and then, whining because others are not buying it. Again, closet case can do whatever he wants, but don’ whine when I say I think its wrong. I am saying that because it is wrong and its not dependent on some kind of transactional view of human rights. He’s a human. he deserves the rights even if he is a coward. the problem of him being a coward is solely about him being a coward.

  • Interesting

    @shle896: < Now for the pop culture self help moral relativism. I mentioned earlier to someone that there are indeed people on here claiming that being in the closet is as equally a valid choice as coming out. That cowardice is the same as courage. Here you are proving my argument for me. No one is telling Closet Case when to come out. They are describing the moral behavior and practical imapct that defines the closet whether he comes out or not. This is not about him other than he's trying to make it about him. That's the whining part. Almost everyone making the statements about the closet being cowardice and about fear is talking about the closet itself. He's just a member of the set not he entire damn set. I don't expect any of this to get through to you. People who are vested in pop relativism and looking on the bright side at all costs often don't admit to complexities and realities like one can be a coward in the closet, and yet finally find the courage to come out. Its about which side of the divide people should support. Not your need to protect one poster on a blog.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: I am not quite sure being in the closet is so much about being “wrong” as it is about being afraid. If thats what you mean by “coward” i get it. It may be cowardly to not be yourself but for some reason i have 2 have empathy since i, too, have firsthand personal experience facing ignorance and hatred. It is obvious to me that ClosetCase is out to him/herself. That is half way there. The most important half.

  • andreusz

    Yes, Mav’s post is well worth reading.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: If someone is alone in the dark they are more likely to welcome the friendship of your hand then the haunts of your screams.

  • Dan

    Considering how many out proud gay people have been murdered by closeted self-loathing gay people who didn’t want others to know about the relationship, it is best to avoid dating/doing someone who is in the closet. And if you are going to start dating/fooling around, then come out of the closet first – especially when straight/gay men take advantage of closeted men to extort money out of them. Best to only date guys who want to be seen in public with you, that way you learn from all the heartache/pain/death that gay men have endured through the years rather than repeating the mistakes over and over. Basic safety tip #1 – don’t fool around with closet cases, or those who don’t want others to know about your relationship.

  • scott ny'er

    As usual, these subject posts brings out lots of intolerant, know-it-all people. “If you don’t do it my way, then you’re [insert derogatory name here].” It’s sad and pathetic.

    To all those who aren’t out yet… no worries. Come out when you’re ready. Hopefully, it will be sooner so that you can experience the LGBT world in a much different way.

  • matt

    Im in no rush. My parents seem cool about the gays(even went to pride parade last year) but at the same time my father makes gay jokes. SO i think ill wait till im not dependent on them paying for my school and other expenses. Theyve gotta know by now though, i mean come on im 21 and ive been hanging out with “guy friends” since i was 14, and ive never brought a girl home.

  • Ugeguy1

    okay, let me just say, i’m halfway out of the closet, ’cause i haven’t told my family.
    what helped me come out were lot’s of youtube gay “gurus” that taught me it was okay to be gay… and tomboy helped too xp

  • Mr T

    How do most of you expect society to tolerate you when you are so intolerant of gays who aren’t just like you? Not everyone can safely scream from the rooftops that they are gay and gays should inherit the earth, nor should they. If you want to give legiticamacy to our cause, be a part of mainstream society. Be tolerant. Act in a respectable manner. Don’t be catty.

    Me, I suffer from social anxiety disorder. It’s hard for me to go in public sometimes, let alone deal with issues like this. The flipside of the coin is that i’m capable of logic analysis that is beyond the vast majority of humans. Most of you sound like you would comdemn me to death rather than help me though.

    Nearly all of my good friends and family who I’ve told have made inappropriate comments since, and I do wish I hadnt told some of them. It’s still legal in the US to fire someone for being gay, and I work in a conservative industry. Jobs like mine are scarce in this area, and I’ve only recently joined my company. I’d like to be known as the guy who does amazing things rather than the gay guy. My sexuality is just a small part of who I am. You’re stronger with me than without me, but if you want to continue killing your wounded I’ll get by.

  • Kasnar

    @Dallas David: Dallas David, pardon the pun but I salute you.

  • Kasnar

    When I was about 24 I had my first boyfriend who was a few years older than me. When we got into fights he used to flaunt his more independent — he had an apartment, I was still living at home — and definitely more “out” status to belittle me and say he ought to introduce himself to my mother as my “wife”. I took this for a while until I told him “perhaps we should just be friends” which totally shocked his then arrogant ass. I then started dating his brother virtually right in front of him — long story — and after numerous confrontations with my mother about my being out all hours of the night, I decided to come out to my mother. My mother was always levelheaded and didn’t register as much surprise as I’m sure she was feeling. ( I lost my father when I was 12) I knew it was a lot for her to digest but I’m her son and she loved and supported me. Years later, I’ve been a homeowner in another state for several years now and my mother often pays me long visits. I would suggest coming out is usually a gradual, but always very individual and personal process for each of us.

  • Shannon1981

    I never really had a closet. It’s pretty obvious. I was sent to conversion therapy at 12 and outed at 14 and never went back in. I was already an awkward, nerdy fat kid with glasses, braces, and acne. The gay part just gave them another reason to pick on me. And pick on me they did. I was harassed mercilessly from the time I set foot in school until graduation. The worst was when the kids threw eggs at me at the bus stop. After that, my parents had to take me to school and pick me up until I could drive myself.

    But now? I love being gay. I love being out and proud, and I love being into activism and making whatever difference I can. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way, no matter all I have endured.

  • CBRad

    @Shannon1981: Sounds like you had rather a rough time there, to say the least. I’m glad you’re….good now.

  • Shannon1981

    @CBRad: I have my moments. You don’t get over conversion therapy, ever. That is why I am just so angry that it isn’t illegal. By the time I started being harassed for being gay, it was just something else on the list, and I was used to it.

    But hey, I graduate college next month and I am gonna work every job I can get my hands on and save, save, save and get to San Francisco and out of South Carolina aka homophobiaville.

  • nikki

    I came out to one of my best friends when i was 17. Her reaction?:
    she was really proud of me! for being able to tell her, and coming out!
    and then i cried happy tears, and we hugged and jumped around…and acting like crazy peeps.
    she’s really short, tiny and petite…and im big xD almost crushed her…but god do i love her!

    after half a year (she didnt tell anyone)
    i came out to some family members….and it all spread….and then i came out to my parents, and my twin brother….so many different reactions…
    one of my aunts was like “oh my god! i KNEW there was something on your mind these last days” and she just smiled and laughed! but then i turned around…and my mom….she…i’ve never seen her so sad…she was crying so hard… parents were a brother ignored me completely. i’ve never cried so much in my life! if i ate something, i couldnt hold it down! i didnt sleep….i was a mess too..
    but my friends? total support! some said they KNEW IT! its good and bad…but im happy! i got hope! if my closest family cant deal? i cant do anything about it..i’ve done my part…

    i wanted to come out before i was in my 2O’s….i’m 19 now…gonna move out next year..
    wish me luck? :)

    -scandinavian LGBT teen.

  • Sol Invictus

    @nikki: Good luck to you and to the awesome friends you have o/ I’m going to move out next year too ^^

  • NiteForce

    Why am I in the closet? I can’t think of any good or compelling reason to live ‘out of the closet’. I do not have a boyfriend so there is no one who is ‘suffering’ having to live and love me. Sexual honesty becomes more important if a person is sexually active.

    I have been in ‘naked’ situations before but have not had actual intercourse with anyone (neither male nor female) and to the best of my knowledge I’ve never ejaculated in the presence of another person. I enjoyed each of my sexual encounters (as pg rated as they were) but quickly realized that my partners did not enjoy sex with me so I made a decision to stop pursuing sex and instead to simply live life as a bachelor. To be ‘out’ as a gay man but not having sex seems pointless to me.

    When I think about it, what does being out of the closet really mean when you’ve decided to live a single life? If I don’t want people to label me then I needn’t label myself.

    I think more important than ‘coming out’ is being honest with yourself so that you don’t make bad decisions that impact the lives of others. For a lot of people this kind of self honesty requires that they ‘come out’.

  • nikki


    Well….it’s really different with each individual.
    But at first, you make it sound like its all about your own sex life, its not.
    it’s just simple honesty……i just did it….cause it was eating me up inside…
    i hid who i really more ways than my sexuality, interests…personality…it was locked away cause…i didnt want people to see “signs”…but that was just me being paranoid… now im happy….it hurts alot sometimes..with family and all…
    alot.. but i would not do it any different. and i wouldnt even change anything about me..
    i guess its just a part of me growing up….being only a teen and all..

    But of course, if you dont wanna lable yourself..then dont…do what you want..
    what makes you comfortable……no one should force a lable on someone.
    or force someone to “come out”

    But honestly…i dont think staying “in” is healthy in the long run…

  • Patrick

    Half in half out.

    I’ve been out to friends since 2002, out to my family since 2009. But I’ve lived and worked in the Middle East since July of 2010, in a country where homosexuality is only acknowledged as a crime.

    I hate it and I am leaving for greener, gayer pastures when my contract expires in June 2012.

    I don’t think this past year and a half (what will be two years when I leave) has had a positive impact on my life. I’ve gotten to travel, I’ve made money, and I’ve lied again and again to people about whom I care a great deal. I feel filthy, tired, and more like a prostitute than I ever thought I would. It’s made the slight but pervasive shame I felt as a gay man growing up catholic in suburban New York into a pathos I’m afraid I’ll never shake.

    How long will it take for me to loose the association I’ve learned between being who I am and risking corporeal and legal retaliation?How can I forgive myself if I leave here with a whole legion of people thinking i am something other than myself. I never wanted to have to ask that question.

    Oh woe is me, I know. But, yeah, sucks a big one…. and not in a good way.

  • Noah J. Thale

    I “came out” when I was 16. I told my best friend I was gay, and some idiots of my classroom told everyone. The teachers would act like “We know nothing” and it was kind of… hard.
    I told my mother that I was gay because I wanted to go out in St. Valentine’s day with my first (and now ex) boyfriend. I don’t regreat :)

  • Erik

    I am in my 40s, was married and now divorced, and am the father of two teenaged kids. I have been out, more or less, to family and friends for about 9 years. Earlier this year I dated a guy who had the unmitigated chutzpah to tell me that I was not “gay enough” and that I needed to come further out of the closet. WTF? That, as they say, was that. Buh-bye.

    People, there is no right or wrong way of coming out. For me, it has been a positive experience overall, but there are people who just do not need to know (i.e., work). Tell who you want to tell, when it is right for you and in your own way. Be who you want to be. And as Billy Joel has always ended his concerts, don’t take any sh*t from anyone.

  • SisleyRH

    I’m still closeted cause in my family if they discover that I’m gay I dunno what they’ll do. My family, they have old-fashioned ideas. They despite gay people. Ahh man it’s really hard. I don’t wanna disappoint them. I don’t wanna be despite by them.

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