COMING OUT

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?