[Trigger warning: homophobia, transphobia]
Around every Coming-Out Day (whether as LGBT+, Pagan, or otherwise) you get posts from people urging closeted folks to come out and live publicly as LGBT+/Pagan/[insert other here], which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. The more people who are “out”, the more visible a group becomes, and the harder it is for society to ignore them.
That said, closet-shaming, don’t do it.
I think the people who (inadvertently or no) try to pressure folks to come out want the same kind of thing I do: greater visibility, a show of solidarity with other like folks, and also, it can be stressful living in the closet, coming out of the closet takes a weight off the chest and lets you breathe. The choice to come out is a powerful act.
And the only person who is equipped to make that choice is the person in that closet.
I have two families, an adoptive family and a biological family, and I’m kind of out as a lesbian but closeted as a Pagan with one and completely closeted with the other. I came out to my mom whenever the last coming out day was, just a casual thing “Mom, do you know that I’m a lesbian?”
My mom’s response: “I don’t understand how you can be a lesbian if you haven’t tried boys yet.”
*deflates a little*
So, to say my a-mom is a bit confused on that front is an understatement, but one thing she definitely wouldn’t understand is my Paganism. She can’t wrap her head around the idea that anyone would embrace Pagan religions as a serious religion. No, she doesn’t give me the whole “devil worship” thing, she just thinks it’s “crap”.
Apart from lack of space, this is why I can’t set up any altars, because she will a) not stop touching them, and b) well, it’s all just “crap” to her, my feelings on the matter don’t matter.
But bio-family, bio-family is worse.
I’m not coming out as Pagan to them for the same reasons I don’t come out to my a-family, because they wouldn’t understand (even though my bio-mom is pretty irreligious). They know that I am uncomfortable discussing religious matters around them, and that’s that.
But there’s no fucking way I’m coming out to them as a lesbian, not now, not ever.
If you’ve been following my account of stupid things my biofamily has said since I’ve known them, you will know that they are quite blatantly racist and homophobic. In case you haven’t, here’s a recap [once again, this gets triggery]:
Stepdad wants a haircut, and the only hairdresser available is a trans woman, he freaks out, yelling that he doesn’t want a “faggot” cutting his hair.
While on vacation in Romania, stepdad and biomom notice a gay couple kissing. Disgusted, biomom says to me “I thought [stepdad] was going to go over there and slap them.”
You see, they have never heard of this thing called “none of your fucking business”.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come out to the kind of people who would talk of assaulting others because of PDA, to say nothing of the awful homophobic and transphobic language they employ.
The thing is, I have it easy compared to some people. Nobody’s thrown me out of the house for coming out, some kids aren’t as lucky to have parents who are merely confuzzled by one’s sexual orientation (and don’t get me started on the kinky stuff).
In a perfect world, no one would have to live in any closets, , but this isn’t a perfect world, and as much as the closet is stifling, some of us need our closets. It’s not a matter of living in denial, it’s a matter of personal safety, of not losing a job, or custody of children, or any of the other shit various closeted people have to deal with.
I will come out on my own time, and on my own terms. Until then, you can just SHUT THE FUCK UP and SHOVE YOUR CLOSET-SHAMING UP YOUR ASS AND PLUG IT, AND IT CAN STAY THERE UNTIL YOU REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT NICE TO SHAME PEOPLE!
Seriously, you may think you’re helping, but you’re not, pressuring someone to do something they aren’t ready to do isn’t a very nice thing to do, even if you do think it’s for their own good.
So don’t do it, and if you see someone else trying to shame someone into coming out of their closet, for the love of everything, call them out on their crap.
Please and thank you.