What is it that causes us to feel compelled to live a secret life of fear? Those who had it easy would say that it’s a choice not to come out. They would say that the fear is irrational. Some of you may never have experienced the intense feeling of fear. It’s a crushing fear of being exposed, and then isolated from life as we know it. We have a serious concern that our family, our culture, our friends and neighbours wouldn’t accept us. Worse, they would shun us, ridicule us, and make our lives a living hell. We fear life changing forever, with us unable to rewind time.
We know about the statistics that seem to try to prove that being gay is normal enough, that one in ten is gay, and more than that are probably not quite straight. We have friends who are happily out, living life without fear. And their life doesn’t seem so bad. But why then do we still have so much fear?
The fear might be irrational, but that doesn’t matter. The fear is still there. In some cases, we do fear physical attacks on us if we come out. Certain people have so much hatred that they will hurt us in the worst ways. However it is often the emotional treatment that we fear more. We can move past the physical threats, but the emotional hatred haunts us constantly.
This fear doesn’t merely exist as a demon that follows us around. Worse than that, it eats at us daily. It prevents us from living our lives and moving forward. It damages us, and strips us of our self-confidence. Sometimes we are unaware of the effects that it has on our lives, but with some introspection, it is obvious what it has done to us. And the fear is still growing.
Socially, we find ourselves unable to be vulnerable. We cannot open up. The constant questions about relationships causes us to withdraw. We always try to avoid the “do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend” question (note that it is always the opposite gender that they are asking about), but inevitably avoiding eye contact, or ducking to the restroom isn’t always a ‘get out of jail’ card. Sometimes that question hits us like a ton of bricks. The attention is all on us, and everyone is waiting for our answer. It’s haunting. This is the point when someone who is comfortable would say “uhm, I’m actually more into boys”. But instead, we make up excuses. “No, I haven’t found the right person yet”; “I’m too busy for relationships”, “I enjoy having fun and being single.”
How do we get past this fear?
How do we get past this fear? Yes, society needs to change, our culture, family and friends need to be different. But firstly, we need to become comfortable with ourselves, and trust that not everyone is out to get us. Here are some tips:
- Find someone who you know will accept you if you come out to them. If you’ve told no one, you can even find a fellow LGBTQ person to come out to (it is almost guaranteed that they won’t judge you, but rather they will accept you). This needs to be face to face – it’s too easy over text.
- Consider finding a therapist. They are non-judgemental by profession.
- Once you feel comfortable with the above, come out to one or two trusted friends who you can trust to keep your secret.
You will find that just the above will give you huge relief. It is a big weight off your shoulders to have someone to talk to about your secrets. This will make you life much easier. Sure, it is still going to be a challenge, and coming out is still a long journey ahead, but for now, telling one person takes you far enough down the journey to kill some of those demons and restore your self-confidence.
If you want to chat about your demons, post a comment below, or send me a message though the Contact Us page.