Coming Out

19720901-05My boyfriend once apologised to a woman who had caught sight of us embracing (it was in her house as it happened). The woman’s reaction was “You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start doing that!” And I’m sure she was right — unless the hets are confronted with direct expressions of gay affection, homosexuals will continue to remain one of those faceless minorities about whom anything can be said, and who can be freely discriminated against by anyone who cares to, confident that no-one dare speak in protest.

How many of us really believe the one in twenty figure? Don’t most of us really fear that we’re only perhaps one in a hundred or even less? For the rule is to assume hetero until proven guilty, and we all fall for this at some time or other. That dishy guy you fancy so much at work just can’t possibly be gay – because he’s just too ‘normal’-looking, and anyway you’ve heard him admit to fancying that voluptuous chick all the guys go for. This sort of situation would be a good time for a gay guy to ask himself how many times he had agreed to being attracted to a woman when he really wasn’t, and to remember the times when he, along with the others, had joked about what the queers had been doing in the Sunday papers.

The popular misconceptions, which the people in the liberation movements so confidently laugh off, affect us all, and we propagate them either directly by backing up the male chauvinist pigs and laughing at their Queer jokes, or indirectly – which is just as harmful – merely by laying low, by denying our gayness to society in showing no affection in public and in keeping up heterosexual appearances while in non-gay company (I can remember one ridiculous situation when about five of us clammed up for the benefit of one het!)

But for whom do we act like this? For a minority of ignorant bigots, or is society as a whole really so unapproachable? How many gay people tend to arrogantly believe that society consists of prejudiced ignoramuses who just ‘couldn’t understand’? What good are we doing ourselves by poking in corners for cases of discrimination and complaining what a raw deal we have because public opinion doesn’t allow us the ordinary social facilities of the majority, when, in fact, public opinion has never really been tested – most people ‘have never met one’.

The only product of lying low – gay people pretending not to be gay – is unhappy gay people: isolated people who think that they’re ‘the only one’, bitter political people with a deep sense of ‘us and them’, and people who have crushed the very quality of their personalities by repressing every aspect of their gayness. If only a lot of gay people would come out, then the isolated individuals would i see for themselves that they’re not alone, the ‘us and them’ feeling would be dispelled as many of them turned out to be us. and society might, after all, prove to be rather more human than we perhaps believe.

Don’t we owe it to our fellow gay people not to mention ourselves, to come out and express the goodness and enjoyment of being gay? Fve held hands, hugged and kissed with other boys in some very public places, not necessarily as a protest but because it seemed good to do it there and then. Usually, nobody notices, sometimes you get a bit of a surprised stare, and the most reaction I’ve ever found was “Uh! Fucking queers!” And I’m sure most gay people can think of a reply to that!

Love to Graham Chapman and other people who’ve come out.