Closet Cases

A “closet case” is defined as follows:

Derogatory term for someone who is homosexual but refuses to admit it to himself or to associate with other homosexuals. Usually he publicly and vigorously denounces homosexuals, both in an attempt to camouflage his sexual preference and as a reflection of the inner conflict he has with his own desires.

It can also be used is a slightly less derogatory way for a homosexual who is unusually careful to prevent family, friends and co-workers from discovering his homosexuality. He will, for example, refuse to live with a male partner, and may keep a phony girl friend.

I can relate in a way. In my previous job, I had a number of supervisors who were retired from the military. Historically, active and retired military are notorious for being homophobic, and several of my former supervisors proved the point. I knew that if they really knew that I was gay and lived with a man, my life at work would be hell. So I never revealed my sexual orientation. It wasn’t anyone’s business. And being a big bad booted biker, commuting on my Harley to work, that image and my usual masculine behavior diverted attention. I kept my home life at home and my work life at work, and tried hard to keep the two separated.

There are many, many men who live in a situation where they fear that revealing their sexual orientation to others will bring pain and mental anguish. Even indicating that they prefer the company of men over women can put them in a bad spot.

But some of them overreact. They assume an identity that is hypermasculine. They share wild tales of (female) sexual exploits that are purely concoctions of the mind and diversions for others. Some make up families and tell tales of married life. Some have jobs in fields where macho-bravado is the norm, such as construction trades, law enforcement, firefighting, the oil industry, and so on — so they tell stories (lies) that fulfill the image of the masculine man in that job.

However, when they’re alone, they visit various websites such as Recon, Gearfetish, Boots on Line, and others as voyeurs (sometimes called lurkers). They may have a clandestine rendezvous with another guy. But they would never admit to anyone else — family, friends, and especially co-workers — their true feelings and sexual orientation or preferences.

While I understand situations that people get into where they fear negative repercussions from being “out” or revealing their sexual orientation, I feel badly and sad for them. I know how it hurts. I know the feelings of anxiety, and like one is living a constant lie. The inner turmoil continues ad naseum.

Some men in this situation and who feel that ongoing anxiety react quite negatively toward someone — like me — who has completely “come out” and is comfortable with it. Yes, I am very fortunate that my current employer isn’t filled with homophobes. I just got a major promotion over many others that I would not have gotten if homophobia were the indiginous thought pattern.

I regret that some “closet cases” feel that they have to lash out when their repressed thoughts and anger erupts, and they feel that they have to write nasty, childish comments in reply to something that confident masculine gay men may write or say. And, typically, guys who write those silly comments do not provide a way to reach them by e-mail. They just hide behind their computer and behave like grade school bullies taunting someone. Well, “sticks and stones” and all that. I have looooong gotten over feeling hurt by such attacks. Rather, I feel sorry for those guys, and pray for them. God loves ’em anyway, even if they can’t love themselves.

Let me say once again that I realize that my personal situation is not that common. I have “grown up” to be a confident, mature masculine man. It took a long time to relax and “be myself.” I live in a community that accepts me for who I am. I am employed by a company that respects my skills and knowledge, and doesn’t judge me because I’m gay. I belong to groups and organizations where I do a variety of things, from performing repairs to improve home liveability for seniors to leading the charge against rampant development without adequate infrastructure to riding motorcycles with groups. I am fortunate that the community where I was born has evolved into being open, accepting. It has a mature sense of “live and let live.” That’s why my partner and I built our home in Maryland where I grew up, because where he lived — Virginia — was much less accepting of “us” as “us” and has become even more hatefully homophobic-by-law.

To summarize: I do not think that people who chose to live in the closet (that is, not publicly reveal their sexual orientation) are bad. I realize that for various reasons (employment, family, geographic location, etc.), they can not be more open with others and honest with themselves. I do ask that as I respect their situation, that they respect mine: that I am a masculine man who likes to wear boots and leather, rides a motorcycle, gets involved in civic life, and who doesn’t cloak his sexual orientation. There is room in this world for all of us. Live your life and I’ll live mine. (But keep the silly comments to yourself.)

Life is short: be true to yourself. No one else knows you better.

One thought on “Closet Cases

  1. I thank you for your insightful and thoughtful posts. I regularly read your blog have learned much from you. Keep doing what you’re doing as we continue grow as a result.

    I’m a firm believer that although I can’t change anyone’s behavior, I can change the way I think about it. I can only hope that these “men” come to realize that envy is at the root of their snide comments and behavior. Trying to make others feel badly or insecure about themselves only provides a temporary boost to their own self-esteem. And at the end of the day, if you don’t like what you see in the mirror, no attempts to belittle others will ever fix that.


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