Homosexuality and Human Nature
Deciding to come out of the closet is scary for most people. It’s human nature to worry about all the things that could possibly go wrong. Unfortunately, it’s also human nature to “catastrophize,” in other words to imagine a negative outcome and take it to ridiculous lengths. For instance, to think “My landlord will find out, and he’ll evict me, and no one else will rent me an apartment, so I’ll end up penniless and on the streets” is catastrophizing. This article looks at some negative consequences people do face when they come out of the closet, and suggests ways to handle them to reduce the hurt and damage.
“If I come out of the closet it will kill my mother.” “If I come out of the closet, I’ll never work in this industry again.” “If I come out of the closet, I’ll get AIDS and die.”
Realizing you’re gay and coming out to other people is a scary business. Unfortunately, many gays and lesbians make it even worse for themselves by “catastrophizing,” that is, imagining a possible negative outcome and carrying it to ridiculous lengths. For instance, while your mother may not approve of your sexual orientation, the news that you’re gay is unlikely to actually kill her. In fact, chances are good she already knows.
This article examines some of the negative consequences gay men and lesbians may face as they come out of the closet, and describes how to manage them so they don’t become catastrophes.
Consequence: Estrangement from some family members or friends.
People will react to the news that you’re gay in many different ways. Most people in your social circle simply won’t care. Many of them will have guessed the truth long ago.
Family can be a little tougher, although like your friends many have probably already guessed what you haven’t been saying.
If you get a negative reaction from your family or friends, keep calm and keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. They may come around once they’ve had time to think it over.
Consequence: Workplace Discrimination
Before coming out on the job, check to see if your company, city, or state has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. If it doesn’t, think twice about coming out at work, since you have no legal protection.
If you decide to come out on the job anyway, chances are excellent that nothing dramatic will happen. I, for instance, have been out at every job I ever had, and never once has an employer given me trouble.
Consequence: Gay Bashing
Usually gay bashers are young men who travel in groups. They usually, though not always, target gay men. Most of them find their victims around gay bars or known gay hangouts. Often one member of the group will approach the victim for sex and lead him to a private place where the attack can occur.
You can reduce your chances of being a victim if you go to bars with other gay men or lesbians. Don’t go somewhere alone with a stranger unless at least one of your buddies knows where you’re going and has some way to reach you. Better yet, get the stranger’s name and phone number and call him the next day when your head is cooler.
If you have been gay bashed, remember that it is not your fault. You did not ask for it nor did you do anything to deserve it. Since gay bashers rarely strike only one victim, it’s important to make a police report and press charges if the bashers are caught. You could save many other gays from the hell you are going through.
Consequence: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
If you’re a lesbian, your risk for contracting an STD from a woman is very low. It is still important to talk to your partner about her sexual history and to use dental dams during oral sex if either of you has any concerns.
Gay men are at a high risk for STDs. When having sex with a new partner, use a condom and spermicide. If you are in a monogamous relationship and you are sure of your partner’s fidelity, you can usually dispense with the condoms after both of you have tested negative for STDs for six months to a year. Some gay health organizations recommend always wearing condoms, even if you’re in a long-term relationship.