Happy National Coming Out Day! I'm poly, bisexual, and kinky. You already knew that. My roommate, coworkers, and family still don't. Mostly because I feel like that if I told them, all they'd hear is "I'm a filthy horny freak and for some reason I'm sharing that, ewww." Which, well, it's partly true? And partly not.
In New York, we met up with a couple of Rowdy's family members. Sprite and I were his "friends," and while I appreciate that he didn't snub one of us by introducing us as "my girlfriend and my friend," it was rather awkward. (Moreso when they asked us where we were going afterwards, and because the real answer was "a fetish club," we panicked and lied and then they went "oh, we're going that way, wonderful, we'll walk together!" and our attempts to politely extricate ourselves reached teen-sex-comedy levels of awkwardness.)
It made me reflect on one of the real reasons it's important that people be able to come out, one of the reasons why "don't ask, don't tell" and "why can't you just keep your private life private" and "but why do you have to flaunt it" are bullshit. It's not just about sex and it's not even just about love. It's about the fact that being closeted requires you to hide an entire person--either completely, or at least in what they mean to you.
When Joe says "I'm gay, and Bob is my boyfriend," it may feel uncomfortable to people who prefer there be only one kind of relationship in the world, but the alternative is that Bob becomes invisible. Joe can't bring him along to social and family events, or if he does he can't talk to and touch him in their natural affectionate way. When everyone else at work is talking about their partners' weird habits, Joe can't chip in that Bob pulls all the cheese off pizza and eats it separately. When Joe is showing off his vacation photos, he has to edit out the ones where he's hugging Bob, if he was able to take any such photos in public in the first place.
Joe and Bob are going to feel like shit not because they can't talk about their sexual desires, but because they can't talk about each other.
And it's untenable. When people pry, lies of omission begin to require real lies, which when stacked up become impossible to maintain. Joe isn't just pretending to be "not gay" or "not anyone's business"; he's forced into actively pretending to be straight and single. (Unless he has a girlfriend who lives in Canada, in which case God help him.) Unless he excludes himself entirely from a huge number of innocent everyday small-talk conversations, Joe has to construct an entire mythical life just to not come out. It's a taxing, ridiculous, and precarious situation.
The problem with closeting isn't that LGBTQAetc folks can't talk about sex. (Actually, that's also a problem, but let's move on.) It's that they can't talk about people.