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Family Matters
"Should I come out?"
28th August 2007 - 03:43 pm

Tom writes:

I'm 17 and very much in the closet. Sometimes I feel I should come out to people but I have no real need, I know many gay people through the internet and I can see no strong benefit of becoming open.
Is there any real benefit of becoming open, given the fact that I have no need to meet more gay people and am comfortable with my life at the moment?
Also bear in mind that I know many people who are not close friends of mine will think less of me...
In conclusion, if I'm comfortable with my life as it is, will I be more or less comfortable if I become open?

Bill Logan comments:
It's great that life is comfortable for you—and interesting that there is part of you that wonders if it could be even more comfortable.

Sexual orientation is a pretty important part of a person's life, usually having some bearing on who they will find as partners, and even on such matters as their tastes, friends and pastimes. And making a secret of such an important part of your life can eventually lead to mysteries and problems. It becomes necessary to hide things, tell little lies, and so on. It can get more complicated as time goes on. People start asking awkward questions. And you may start to believe that what you are hiding is something bad about yourself.

This does not necessarily mean that you should feel you have to come out immediately. There's no hurry, and particularly if you are dependant on a family that might not cope with homosexuality, then delaying may be right.
But I know a handful of guys in their early twenties who present to the world as straight; the problem is that they are forever worrying about getting found out by family, friends and flatmates, which can be pretty difficult.

And if the truth were known, the hiding makes them feel bad about themselves.

AJ Marsh comments:
Dear Tom, I think that there is a great benefit to being open. It's not a question of proclaiming it from the rooftops, but rather not lying about it when asked.

No matter how you reveal it, whether vocally or just in passing when asked, there will always be someone with something smart to say, such as accusing you of going on about it or forcing it down their throats, and that's something we all face. Being open about your sexuality may not increase hostility towards you either. You're not heterosexual, so don't pretend that you are to suit heterosexual norms. Being out doesn't mean that you have to dress or speak a certain way. Just don't restrict yourself not to see or do what you want because you want to feign being straight.

As to those people who will think less of you, they really don't matter. There are racists, sexists, homophobes, and all sorts of bigots and small-minded people in this world. The last thing that any of us should want to do is to appeal to them.

Most people will not care that you're gay and you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there are thousands of ordinary LGBT New Zealanders in this country living happy and fulfilling lives, who don't deny their sexuality and who have no wish to act, think or be straight, and there's no reason why you can't be one of them.

You may find too that if you don't deny who you are when the time comes, you might help others take that step.

Jacqui Grant comments:
Tom, what you don't say in your letter speaks more to me than what you do say. You seem to think people will think less of you if they know you are gay. I have to wonder what sort of people you mix with.

The fact that you have written this letter means to me you do want to come out and you are not comfortable in the closet - if you were, why ask the questions?

You say you have no need to meet more gay people. Sounds like you are out to at least a select circle, although I suspect they may just be sex partners.

You must remember being gay is not all about sex. We have our own sense of community and pride. We have our own distinct culture - which by the way is in the main supportive, absolutely fabulous, at times flamboyant, and above all it is us.

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