What we can all learn from National Coming Out Day. And then some.
Yes, I do realize I am a day late.
National Coming Out Day was yesterday. I know.
In my defense, we university types tend to go all out. We know it’s October 11th, but we tend to give it a whole week. I mean… it really deserves a whole week, don’t you think? And (yes I am going to say it) you straight people get to come out all the year long, as soon as you feel like it. Straights get to come out so much, sometimes the gays come out as straight too.
N-E-way… to honor National Coming Out Day, I thought I’d direct you to this post , about what Coming Out as bisexual was for me.
In addition. In honor of Coming Out, let’s talk about closets…
You know. I think about sex a lot. True story. I write about it, enjoy any and all discussions about it… have it whenever I can get it…
And, sometimes, I think about closets. Yes. Closets.
I don’t mean real closets (although I did have a kind-of-ex who had a thing for sex in real closets), I mean proverbial closets. You know, the ones us gay/bi people come out of on National Coming Out Day.
In all my thinking on sex, and closets, I started to think:
Let me explain.
See, in the traditional sense, someone who is stuck in a proverbial closet may publically identify as straight, but in their closet, that is, deep in their heart of hearts? Gay as a handbag full of rainbows.
Beyond this conventional meaning, I think the closet allegory can be applied to far more of the human sexual experience than just being gay, bi, or straight. It can refer to any situation where, outwardly, you embrace sexuality preferences because you think they’re appropriate or acceptable by someone else’s standards while inwardly? In your lil own closet, there? You crave something very different – but it’s something you or people around you have deemed “bad”, “dirty”, “wrong” or simply “abnormal”. It can be anything from being gay, to knowing you were born the wrong gender, to being kinky as a clearance rack garden hose.
We should never stay in our closets. Yes, sometimes it takes great strength and courage to come out of them. And, yes, we may lose people we love when we do. But, as I’ve argued before, we have a responsibility to 1.) ourselves, 2.) the people we are having/want to have intimate relationships with, and 3.) others like us, to open up those closet doors. I’d argue that is regardless of if it is as gay, bi, queer, poly, sub/dom, kinky, man, woman, trans.
But, if you ask me, there are more than just closet doors for us to walk through, in the realm of human sexual experience. While we should never stay in a closet, perhaps there are other doors that are less necessary but more … optional for us to walk through, as well.
Sure, perhaps you’re in this lovely little parlor of vanilla sex. You’re comfortable. You like it. You’re not really hiding any great desires. You’re not in a closet. But. Along comes this partner through a big, dark, door that says “Spank Me I’ve Been Naughty!”. Maybe said partner wants you to check out what’s on the other side. You certainly don’t have to, and it’s ok if you don’t. But… Maybe you do.
And, maybe, even though you never thought of it before, you really like what you find there. And it leads to other doors you never had from Vanilla Parlor – other doors you may or may not choose to enter.
Human sexuality is not just about the closets we need to come out of, but also about the plethora of doors that we may or may not walk through. The ones that are always available, should we care to check them out, to explore more of this great maze of human sexuality and the myriad things that turn us on and get us off.
However. It’s not just about increasing the kink each time you walk through a door. It’s far more about getting up and out of your comfort zone, leaving convention behind. It’s about exploring what your sexual life has to offer, and that continuum is not a one-way street. Just as one door can say “Three’s Company” another might actually say “Celibacy”. We’re just as shamed for non-vanilla sex as we are for not having any sex at all – regardless of how right either one is for you.
All that said – never go back in a closet. For the love. Yes, that may seem to complicate things, as I’d say we all have license to experiment. But therein is an important distinction: One is experimentation and experience, another is fundamental sexuality. You just have to be self-aware enough to know the difference – and don’t let the haters tell you otherwise. It really isn’t that complicated.
The bottom line is this: As long as we never leave Enthusiastic Consent Land, and we never forget Safety First!, sex and sexuality are to be explored. We need to leave our closets, and maybe, with the right partner, leave the proverbial vanilla parlor and try out that next door…
Now. All this isn’t to take the focus off the gays (and apologies if I appear to have done so). My point is rather, on one hand, that we should all learn from our closet-shunning brethren. We should all think about what closets we hide in, and our responsibility in coming out of them.
yet, to me, it’s more than that. Human sexuality should not just be about gay vs. bi vs. straight. My adopting the closet-leaving image to discuss a broader view of sex is actually part of the point: Why leave it there? Why decide gay vs. straight is all we should think about bringing forth into the light, when, for one, sexuality is so much more fluid? And for two, and more importantly, there is so much more we keep in the dark? I really think constraining ourselves to discussions about gay or straight starts to ignore these other things, and when we do, we just ostracize someone else.
Finally, in using the allegory of closets and doors, it’s also about understanding one another, finding compassion and openness, not just for gays, but also for bis and queers and subs and doms and polys. See, we have no idea what closets other people have been in, what rooms, what doors they’ve walked through. And, unless we’ve been in those closets and rooms, we have no idea what that feels like, or what it is to enter or to leave them. As such, we have no right to judge another person’s sexual experience, the closets they’ve come out of, the doors they’re tried.
So. In the spirit of Coming Out Day, come out of your closets. Or even, try a new door.
Or, you know, don’t try a new door. But never judge someone else simply because they did.
And if you need some motivation, Diana Ross wants to know “who’s coming out with me tonight??”
You have my full permission to dance.