The closet is not where homosexuals hide - it is where the truth is hidden until we take it out into the light.This quote is one of many truths that I've been reading, re-reading, and slowly digesting from Rob Eichberg's classic book Coming Out: An Act of Love. Published in 1990, Eichberg drew from the experience, strength and hope of gays and lesbians who participated in workshops called The Advocate Experience from 1978 to 1990. Despite being nearly 16 years old, it is an incredible resource for anyone who's going through the coming-out process.
Eichberg subtitled the book "An inspiring call to action for gay men, lesbians, and those who care." He does a good job of inviting the straight family and friends of people who are coming out into the process, pointing out where they can help and support the ones they love in their coming out process.
The core of Eichberg's work is simply this: the very core of love is honesty. Yet those of us who are closeted are hiding a central truth about ourselves from those we love - precisely out of fear of losing that love. The first section of the book talks about being gay, and the reactions to it. And it names two central fears of so many closeted GLBT's - if someone finds out who you really are, they won't love you anymore...compounded by feeling you are not even courageous enough to tell the truth. Those two fears helped me to refuse to even consider my true sexuality for years - decades, in fact.
But Eichberg's "inspiring call to action" is no less important - that perceptions about gays and lesbians will never change until the world knows who we really are. He writes, "By hiding your sexual orientation, you have contributed to the prevailing stereotypes of what it is to be gay." It's a message that I first heard from Tom and Damien as they encouraged me to take my first steps out of the closet - and one I'm glad that they ever-so-gently hammered home, because it's true in more ways than I could have imagined.
There's lots more that I'm going to reflect on from this book - lessons I'm learning, and relearning at this point. But for now, the work-a-day (and night) world is calling. But there's more to come...