Skeletons in the closet

Sophomore tells never-ending coming out story

Story by Olivia Corbett, staff writer

Most of us like to think of society’s views as being without fault. Perfect and justified. After all, we’re society. Each of us has a say in our standards and customs. Theoretically. But society has become a blind dictatorship, where the man with the loudest voice is the one with the right ideas, and those who don’t conform are left to either be crushed under the weight of everyone else’s stares or to scramble like frightened rabbits looking for a place to hide. Like inside a burrow. Or under a shrub. Or behind a rock….Or in the closet.

The human heart begins beating at just three weeks. We are alive, but in the dark. From that moment, darkness becomes a safety net. We are never truly afraid of it; we are afraid of what could be hidden in it, of demons hiding in our fortress of monochrome. We even spend our most vulnerable hours asleep in its enrapturing embrace. We blend in. Our identities evaporate in moonlight. And closets are so, so very dark. A rabbit hiding within the folds of an old coat could be anything. Or it could simply be itself….Afraid.

Afraid because it has never even once been attracted to a boy.

And again there’s a choice that the rabbit has to make. It can either venture out into the burning sun, or it can stay safe and sound in the dark until its last breath. No more than just another skeleton in the closet.

I grew up hearing the same things that everyone else did. The same propaganda, the same condemnation of ‘those’ people. Of the ‘freaks of nature.’ They were different.They were wrong.

And I was so far back in the closet that I didn’t even know I was in it.

I was 13 years old the first time I was called a lesbian. It was meant as a pointless nasty insult, thrown by a friend that I’d had a falling out with, but I couldn’t get the word out of my head. It was like someone had suddenly turned the lights on.
That night I cried myself to sleep. Because she was right, which made me ‘wrong.’ I had never even considered sapphism a possibility long enough to give orientation a second thought.

I could feel the walls of my closet boxing me in.

The next year I was still lying to everyone, myself included. In a band hall practice room, oboe in hand, I paled at a question that I suddenly realized had been directed at me. Did I like Mr. Math Prodigy back?

The word bisexual fell out of my mouth like a rock. And the moment it hit the ground, I knew it was a lie. Everyone gasped. Everyone chattered. Everyone was a friend who didn’t mind. But no one else cared about lies hissed in a practice room. It was still a secret.

Second period English. Second seat in the second row. Not a second of forethought. The guys in the main social clique were making fun of someone or something. I didn’t know what, and I don’t know what made it such a big deal. All I heard was ‘that’s gay.’ Over and over. A chorus of vicious jokes about ‘those people’ brought on by ‘that word’ broke out across the class, and my eyes lowered in private embarrassment. The teacher struggled to rein them back in, but she was drowned out by insult after insult. I didn’t turn around. I looked straight ahead at the front of the room and tried to keep the pain at bay. “If you had any sense, you wouldn’t use that word as an insult. It’s offensive.” Someone yelled back that there was no one who would be offended by it. “ I am.” Two words, and the class grew quiet. One person gave voice to everyone else’s single thought. ‘You’re a lesbian?’

For weeks afterwards, I couldn’t walk down the hallway without nasty whispers breaking out in little clusters. I was called words that I’d never even heard before. Because I was one of ‘those’ people. One of the first well known students in my grade to admit to such a hefty ‘transgression.’

Two years later, and it still feels like I’m constantly making confessions, having to come out every time I meet someone new. Not everyone is horrible, or hates who I am. I would even venture to say that most people don’t mind. The disapproval doesn’t all magically melt away, but it does eventually get easier.

The sun can burn, but you can’t see anything beautiful from inside of a closet.