A rather masculine closet, nonetheless, is a closet
I decided to write this because of this post written by Emily Manuel (and tweeted by Charlie Glickman). That post is about Anderson Cooper coming out as a gay man and the responses from non-gay people. Ultimately, it’s about identity and having to decide if one should be in a closet or not.
I have to start by admitting that I really didn’t see it as very meaningful. I don’t feel either way about Mr. Cooper and I think that people should be free to speak about their sexuality if they choose and not to speak about it if they choose. In short, they should be in control of how much they disclose because…well, because it’s THEIR life. I forgot, just for a bit, that no one lives their life according to their own set of rules. We each have to deal with the society in which we survive, and that means identity minorities have to deal with what it means to be a minority.
Even now, Americans like Mister Cooper still live in a country where there is no national anti-discrimination bill for such things as employment and housing. There are still parts of the country where it is completely legal to sack someone for being GLBT, or to refuse them housing, where parents lose custody of their children after coming out. Even in areas where there are local anti-discrimination laws, these are often still ineffective – it’s easy enough for a bigot to discriminate without being caught.
That part hits home. A while back, it was suggested that all I needed to do to find the right Dominant Woman was to start attending “munches.” When I pointed out that this was tantamount to publicly outing myself, I was ridiculed and my sincerity was doubted. For some people, being able to live openly and authentically as a D/s couple is simply not a big deal. They do it and they have either decided that the consequences don’t matter, or they found that there were no consequences. For some of us, those consequences are potentially profound enough that we are, essentially, obeying a societal gag-order.
Forgive me for not having my source at hand to quote directly, but a gay rights activist once said that no gay man lives in a closet that he has built. It was built for him by all of the people around him, and then they shoved him into it and took away the key. The same holds true for many submissive men and Dominant women – more, I believe, than for Dominant Male/Submissive Woman pairings (ummmmm – Fifty Shades of Fluff?).
I don’t want to throw my sexuality in the faces of those around me. I’m really pretty private about it. But I don’t want to feel like I have to keep it hidden, either. I don’t want to wonder if my career could be threatened by how I live in a consensual, loving, and supportive relationship.
Anderson Cooper is helping me because he’s challenging the sexual identity stereotypes that run rampant through our culture. He’s openly gay without being effeminate or threatening or consumed with crusading for gay rights. In a way, he’s a quiet revolutionary simply because he is in a position to be open about his identity and not let it interfere with his professional life. We need more people like that.
I need more people like that.