It’s got nothing to do with sexual preferences. In fact. “Coming out of the closet” is simply standing up to be counted – without the comfort that someone else will stand up next to me. And it’s cold out here in my birthday suit. I tell myself I’m in good company – Gore Vidal, Truman Capote… I keep turning those precious pages. But it’s not only writers and/or homosexuals; there are lots of other lone wolves out here: Marilyn Monroe, Mother Teresa, Queen (who self-published too), and all the Saints, apostles, prophets and martyrs (oh yes). Now, why do I only mention dead people? Maybe because I’m feeling so alone.
It takes courage to stand up and say “this is what I think” when you know that most people think differently – or don’t think at all, but just go along with popular belief. It’s the same penalty. You get black listed, or laughed at, or people are scandalised or pretend to be shocked . So? Well isn’t it nicer to be warm and cosy and accepted in your sheep’s clothing, rather than naked and alone.
Does it get easier after the first admission? I have cancer; I am in debt; my partner has left me; I am homosexual. In some cases, maybe the admission should be on a “need to know” basis. Foolish to expose that most delicate part of the anatomy – the soul – to all elements. Especially when the admission’s not that momentous on society’s scale of one to ten. Because it’s just as momentous for us more timid garden varieties who don’t quite fit society’s norms.
And sometimes it’s not so much an admission to Joe Public, but a kind of “coming out of the closet” to oneself. It’s a putting-aside of the public mask, the brave front. Something I’ve tucked away – a sorrow or regret that was too heavy to bear – a truth I didn’t have the courage to face. Then one day (not necessarily even a sunny day) I wake up strong enough to unpack the clothes and take them to the hospice, replant the garden, scatter her ashes, give away the treasures.
Now I’ll stop. It’s snowing here in Africa. Strange the cause for celebration in our different worlds.