Home > politics > On not being closeted, the privilege to be out and open, and the resultant deweaponisation of “shame”

On not being closeted, the privilege to be out and open, and the resultant deweaponisation of “shame”

lonely_closet_m65_b1_f6In multiple aspects of my like I’m privileged that I don’t have to be closeted. That’s partly a conscious choice; years ago a concerned lover tried to get me to edit down my social networking profile in case those I was involved in campaigns against (city council, rightwing popular media etc) tried to publicly smear me for being polyamorous, queer and kinky. I decided that if this did happen, I could and would stand up and say “yes this is me and I am not ashamed of the things I do with other consenting adults”.

Trying to hide these aspects of my life makes me more vulnerable – to blackmail, to being “outed”, to having to think before I post anything as to whether I am revealing secrets I need to keep hidden. I feel more in control of my own life by being out. It feels like one less weak spot.

Also it is a political choice to take advantage of my relative privilege and personal circumstances in order to be a part of de-stigmatising and re-humanising these identities. I don’t have children I fear I could lose. I am in a unionised workplace. I have a secure tenancy. I am not financially, or otherwise, dependent on my family. I could come out and feel ok that anybody who thus rejects me is someone I can live without.

There is one big exception to my personal openness – I am not out as polyamorous at work. I am consciously closeted about that. Not being straight is fine for me in my workplace – in fact I seem to code as queer so I have to actually come out as someone who also dates men rather than as simply gay. But non monogamy is definitely something I hide, and on the rare occasions when its accidentally come out – because I’ve slipped up and revealed conflicting details about “my partner” triggering questions – I’ve felt ostracised as a result.  Also I don’t talk about being kinky with most people anyway, as its mostly inappropriate to share bedroom activity details.

I’m writing this now as I’m doing a 2017 retrospective and I realise that some of the things I’m writing about are to do with my mental health, which is another stigmatised condition that I am lucky to not have to be closeted about. In general I can be quite private, but especially having realised that me being open about my mental health has helped allow others to talk about theirs, I am consciously talking about it. After all, if it was the year I’d had my big shoulder operation and had to spend 3 months with my right arm permanently in a sling, I would mention that. Why not that I’ve a long-term mental health issue which I’m having treatment for?

Anyway, I totally see it as a combination of my privileges to be out. That I am able to be independent and have arranged my life to not be at mercy of anyone else’s judgements, as well as to live in a time and place where it is safe to be open about my sexuality due to generations of brave LGBTQIA activists. So cheers to everyone who gave me the ability to not have this burden and vulnerability of being closeted, and may I use it to help others who are not so lucky.

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Categories: politics
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  1. January 1, 2018 at 6:03 am

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