2 min

The closet that wouldn’t stay open

I’m no fan of the closet, that metaphorical cage that queers around the world throw their sexuality in to shut it away from the light of day and to please those they fear would punish and disown them for throwing those doors open.

To my mind the closet is no quaint, wooden affair with slits to peek through. I picture the doors as being solid chrome or aluminum on runners. And when those doors close there are no holes for light to shine through, and the inside is dark and airless. It’s a place where closeted queers toss their sexuality to wither and die.

The closet insists upon deception and repression of sexual urges. For the closeted queer a visit to a gay bar or a night of cruising is fraught with stress and shame about who may be looking and what they might guess. The closet’s purpose is to crush queer sexuality while forcing those in it to deceive others and deprive themselves.

While doing some research for a story this week I visited the website of LGBT Out, the U of T gay group. On the contact page where the executives are listed, no last names are used. These people aren’t members who participate in the odd event, they’re the ones calling the shots and acting as LGBT Out’s public face. And they won’t use their full names. When I talked to one current and one former LGBT Out executive I was told this practice has been in place for years, and it’s done to protect those still in the closet.

Has society become so conservative and backward that queers have found a need to resurrect the closet? I can only offer my own anecdotal evidence, but I strongly feel that many queer youth around my age (early 20s’) are letting shame and straight society dictate how they deal with issues of sex and love.

Young queers seem to be embracing the idea of monogamous relationships. For the guys I know this translates into serial monogamy where the merry-go-round of boyfriends spins so fast I can’t keep track of it. This single-minded focus on monogamous relationships bothers me – we’re queer! Why do we want to emulate the heterosexual establishment that, until 1969 in this country, criminalized what we do in bedrooms, backrooms and public washrooms (among other places)?

Instead of taking great steps forward, the general feeling I get from talking to most young queers is that the morals and deeply personal codes we live by are becoming increasingly backward and conservative.

In Canada queers are protected in several ways, including the Charter and employment laws. I believe the LGBT Out executive can and should use their real names without fear. There is no reason for the closet to exist in this country any longer. It’s time to break those doors open and dismantle this useless, self-punishing cage.