Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Out

You know, it's always been a bit hard for me as a heterosexual woman to understand just how terrible it would be to be "in the closet." I mean, I can sorta get that having to lie to be accepted--knowing that who you are will never be enough for some people you love to love you--would suck. I'd hate it, too. But something occurred to me earlier this evening that helped me wrap my head around it a bit.

There are people I've met in college who were really introverted when I met them. They didn't really distinguish themselves at first, and even if they were interesting people... it was hard to tell. They were just sort of there. Blending in. Being normal. So normal they escaped notice.

Some of these people changed over the course of college. One girl, as I described it to her, used to be quiet and unobtrusive but at some point cut her hair short and lost her damn mind. And she's wonderful. Another friend of mine also chopped off his hair, started dressing like the fine creature he is, and is also smiling and laughing with his friends whenever I see him. They're amazing, brilliant, and loved.

They're wonderful, but I didn't notice it when I first met them. It took me a while to see all this great stuff in there. Either long hair is somehow stifling to a person's potential or the difference was the transition between "in the closet" and "out." Now I can tell what they were keeping in, what they were hiding. Now I can tell what a terrible shame it is that they were afraid of what would happen if people knew them. They were afraid that if they dared to openly be these beautiful, creative, and smiling people I know... that people wouldn't like them anymore. That they would be judged, hated, mistreated.

And now I think I get it. How many opportunities for joy did they miss, hiding? And how much did the rest of us miss, not really knowing them? What a horrible thing.

I hadn't even really known what I'd been missing, but now that I do I'm glad they're out. My world is better for it, now that it really and truly has them in it.

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