Moving to North Carolina gave me a new perspective on the closet. By that point I had been completely out for about a year and a half, having started the process with friends about a year before that. In those 2+ years I had really taken ownership of my identity and was growing into it nicely. After the torturous decades of trying to be something I wasn't, I was finally able to look in the mirror (figuratively, at least) and say to myself "I'm okay with that." It's a journey anyone, straight or queer, should be so lucky to go on. But what I met in the south was a bible-belted influence so deep that the majority of gay men I encountered were still in the closet. Keep in mind, these are men that are on the dating sites, in gay bars, and their families/friends/and in many cases even their wives don't know. They're the "sneaky gays", as Sue Sylvester put it, and they're often myopic about the consequences. And for me, and many other out and proud 'mos, dating a closeted individual is basically like forcing yourself back in the closet to meet their demands for "discretion", and after the often intense and painful journey out of it the first time, another trip back in is not an attractive option.
People need to be out. Not only does it embarrass and inconvenience, but maintaining the lie only gives strength to the haters. People most often change their minds and soften their hearts when someone close to them comes out. Education is the easiest way to change public opinion, and it's the best way we'll overcome the hate and fear like that shown in the recent viral letter from a sperm donor to his progeny (what else could that bigot be called?). Now I'm not generally a fan of outing someone else. Ideally people should come out when they're ready. It can be dangerous. People get emotional and rash. If children have bigoted parents it's usually best to wait until after they can financially sustain themselves. Many homeless children are disproportionately LGBT youth (that site says 20%, others say 20-40%) who came out too soon to hateful people and were kicked out of their homes. One of my best friends was outed in middle-of-nowhere Georgia and was promptly put in the hospital for wounds from a baseball bat.
That said. Even while writing this post my views have been evolving. I didn't like that blogger Jonathan Merritt against his will. But Southworth is entitled to his experiences. He didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement when Merritt came on to him. And when a public figure is promoting homophobia and inflicting harm on his audience and culture while otherwise hypocritically enjoying himself he needs to be stopped, which was basically the explanation given by Southworth, and in this case I now believe he was well within his rights. But even still, Merritt is trying to blame his homosexuality on being abused as a child, still essentially denying his nature by saying that it was something that was inflicted on him. (Abuse does not cause homosexuality (see myth #3), and it's unfortunate that people will still believe that tripe.)
It's such a shame that bigots can use hate and fear to turn a person against themselves so violently that they lash out at their own identity and those who share it. My heart goes out to Mr. Merritt and other closeted individuals like him, but the sooner they stop lying, the sooner will they find some peace. If only everyone could be as laid-back and mature about it as Ezra Miller, star of my personal must-see flick of autumn, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, who came out in yesterday's Out magazine. So if you're looking for some tips...
It kinda boggles my mind, though, and did especially when much of the Republican mud slinging in 2008 was accusing Obama of being a socialist. I mean -- Jesus was a socialist. No, I'm not comparing the two, lest I start my grandmother off on one of her "Obama is the Antichrist" rants. I'm just saying. Look it up. Socialism is basically the same as Christianity's idealist views of Zion. Don't try to tell me that Jesus was fiscally conservative, Mr. "Sell all you have and give it to the poor" (Insert Bible reference verse here). And he certainly wasn't socially conservative (after all he hung out with prostitutes and never had anything bad to say about the homos -- he even let one write at least a quarter of the Bible).
So why are so many conservative Christians Republican? I was surprised that the conclusions I came to were only supported by the fears of those that sponsored that billboard: abortion and the continued existence of homosexuality, the latter of which, they should realize by now, is a losing battle. I'm not exactly sure of my own views of abortion, but Democrat doesn't automatically mean homosexual atheist baby killer on welfare any more than Republican means Christian homophobic NRA card-carrying rich white guy (well...). But there's definitely a link between religion and party affiliation.
I guess what I'm getting at is, come November, I hope people will take a good look at what they actually believe (as opposed to what Fox News tells them to believe), what they think is right, and make the right decision. Or rather the left one.