Why You Need to Come Out of the Damn Closet
Since I’ve come out publicly, I’ve heard from lots of readers brave enough to send me a whisper of “me too.” They write to me because they’re stuck—they’re in a confined space, and they want out. But they’re scared to move. So here’s a little encouragement if that sounds anything like you.
First, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: You’re not the only one who is scared of coming out. I know you probably think that everyone else has all their shit together (HAHA), but the truth is, whether we’re straight, LGBTQ, or none of the above, we are all giant messes and we care way more than we should about what other people think.
I know, we should have learned our lesson in middle school and gotten over it already, but it was either that or algebra, and Mr. Frick said that if we didn’t learn about x + y = z, our whole lives would be really confusing, so we went with algebra. But we really should have tried to learn that other thing too because as it turns out, living your life afraid of what someone else might think is even more confusing than numbers disguised as letters.
It’s confusing because to play it safe and not do anything ever that could possibly cause someone to disapprove of you is completely fucking impossible, and when you try to tell yourself that you have to do an impossible thing, your mind goes lskjdjdhfuweugg! and your heart does too.
But I get it, you know—coming out is hard. It’s scary. And it’s also the best thing you can do for yourself. Believe me, I have been right there.
Think of it like this: If you come out, you risk getting really shitty reactions from the people you love and from people who don’t even know you (I don’t know which of those makes less sense, but they both suck). No thanks, right? But here’s the alternative: If you don’t come out, you risk never getting to be yourself. And if you’re not going to be yourself, who are you possibly going to be?
Maybe you just had three really quick ideas flash through your mind about what kind of made-up person you could pretend to be. Guess what? I love you, but those were awful ideas. Please never consider them again. You are literally the only person who you can be. Even if you put on some weird disguise, you would still be you underneath—you’d just be uncomfortable as hell. You can take my word—it’s not worth it.
And that leads us to the other terrifying possibility, which is that, since you are the only person you can be, and since you’re afraid of being that person, you decide maybe it’s better to just not be. With all the loving tenderness of my Jesusy-heart, I am saying to you, BACK THE FUCK OFF THAT LEDGE RIGHT NOW. You are here, and you need to stay here. There is a reason you are breathing right now, and it doesn’t have to be anything huge or glorious. YOU are reason enough.
Once when I was a kid, I felt so much despair that I shut myself in my (literal) closet and buried my face under a pile of clothes. I squeezed my eyes shut to try to block out the whole terrible world, and I prayed that God would just take my breath and let me go away. But there was a reason I kept breathing, even if it’s just because my survival instincts kicked in beneath all the blessedly insufficient laundry, and I let myself out of that damn closet. I realized that it was letting me hide but that it could never do what I really wanted it to, which was to make me feel okay.
And that’s what I want you to know: No matter how well you’ve constructed it, your closet will never make you feel okay—and it might even succeed at suffocating you. So please breathe. Let yourself out. Be you. And keep being.