An analysis of the saying 'in the closet' by someone who's in the closet.
|I am gay, and the majority of people in my life don’t know that, which means I am ‘in the closet’. This phrase has puzzled me ever since I became aware of it. What does it mean and who came up with it? A quick Google search didn’t yield the results I had hoped for, so my head began to generate answers.|
Maybe the idea of the closet came from the fact that people who are hiding their sexuality are being forced to adopt different clothes. They are unable to fully be themselves or express themselves freely, so they take on different personalities to hide who they really are. When someone opens up the closet to look in, they’re always wearing something different.
This explanation made me wonder what other possible furniture-related metaphors for not being open about your sexuality could have been invented instead.
‘Under the table’ was the first alternative that I thought of. Similar to a meek dog thats hiding while the family is arguing. Too afraid to say anything for fear of rocking the boat, and exposing myself as a result. Although I certainly want to have my voice heard, I know I’d much rather have the love of my family. I don’t want to risk losing that right now… so I’ll just stay under the table.
‘In the refrigerator’ was the alternative I thought of while getting a snack in the middle of writing this. It’s similar to the closet but colder, and more unforgiving. You see, there’s nothing extra to wear in the fridge. It’s just cold and lonely. The sense of isolation you feel is persistent and all-encompassing. It surrounds you completely and the only respite is when someone opens the door the fetch something from you. That brief period of opening up to someone is a warm relief, that until you leave the fridge, always ends in the cold reclaiming you and melted ice dripping down your back.
The last one that I came up with was ‘behind the bookshelf’. Those of us who are gay never had the complete adolescent experience. That golden time of youth was full of self-doubt, internal struggles with heteronormativity and homophobia. I wasn’t brave enough to live my life. Instead, I listened to stories of people who were brave enough. I live vicariously through books, television shows, movies and even stories from people online. I ravenously sought out media that I could relate to. It was the only thing that kept me going on some of the worse days.
Maybe one day, everyone will know who I am, and I can finally be myself and wear my own clothes, have my own voice heard, be warm and happy and even tell my own story. Maybe one day… I’ll come out.