Remembering the Closet

I’m coming up on my one year Out-iversary, and I’ve been thinking about the closet lately. Mostly mine, but also the closet of a man I used to know.

Ten years ago, I had a coworker (I’ll call him Tony). Tony was what you would call FLAMING. He was a gym bunny with blond highlights, a bad half-handlebar mustache, and a major lisp. He often wore tight jeans that showed off his pert buttocks that swished back and forth when he walked.

It’s awesome that he was so free with his appearance and whatnot, but Tony was also in the closet. Deep in the closet. As in, he even had a fake girlfriend back home.

Every couple weeks Tony would take a long weekend and drive north to see his family and his girlfriend Carla. Every time he mentioned her name, people exchanged sideways glances in disbelief.

Then in 1999, Tony died. Tony was an über-health nut, almost fanatical. Turns out there was a history of heart problems in his family that he couldn’t get away from. His death was a complete shock to everyone.

There was another surprise awaiting me at the funeral home. There with his parents and siblings sat Carla. Except it wasn’t Carla, it was Carlos. Tony had changed his boyfriend’s gender to stay in the closet at work. I was dumbstruck.

I didn’t speak to Carlos that day and of course I haven’t heard from him since. But every now and then I wonder about him. How long had they been together? How did they meet? Were they a cute couple? How did they decide on the work-closet, or was Carlos even aware of it?

While I researched the David Davis case, I ran across a blog comment that I’ve seen before. “Why do you have to tell people? Everything was fine until you started telling everybody!” Tony is the reason I know the comment is wrong. Because everything wasn’t fine. It was fine for people on the outside, but it must have been painful for Tony and Carlos to hide what I can only assume was a loving, caring, wonderful relationship.

That’s what makes me so sure that throwing our society’s closet door wide open is a good and righteous thing to do. No one should have to hide a loving relationship for fear of rejection in another, be it personal, professional, or spiritual. No one should have to hide who they are because of the very real possibility that someone might hate them.

Yet the Jimmy Dobsons of the world continue to wield their hate, and too many gays and lesbians continue to live in their closets in fear of that hate.