I must tell you something in the very beginning, this article was influenced by a speech of Ash Beckham, a truly extraordinary lady.
She used to be a waitress at Southside Walnut Cafe at one point of her life. As expected, the diner attracted a great number of toddlers as its customers. When she went up to these tables, the kids asked her, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Ash wasn’t someone who wore dresses or had long hair. But this question quite obviously offended her and so she prepared herself for a fight every time she arrived at these particular tables where anyone aged between 3 and 10 were sitting. This process was getting quite tiresome so she ultimately decided to deal with this problem once and for all. She memorized to quotes of several noted feminists, read about their philosophies and when she felt empowered enough- she waited for her turn to finally give a mind-blowing speech that would silence all the negative questions.
But what followed was slightly unexpected. She did not have to wait for long to get her next toddler customer. A 4 year old girl asked her again very calmly, “Are you a boy or a girl?” At that moment, Ash looked at her offender. This was a 4 year old child in a pink frock. Did she really need to arm herself with the infinite wisdom of feminists like Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan? Not really. Ash just squatted down to face the little girl and kindly said that just as she liked to wear dresses at times and her comfie jammies at other times, Ash was more of a ‘comfie jammies’ kind of girl. Yes, she did have short hair and wore boys’ clothes which could make it confusing for someone to understand but she was indeed a girl. The little girl was non-chalant and said that her favourite pajamas were purple in colour and that she would like some pancakes.
It was as easy as that. The little pancake girl just wanted a simple answer, she was not challenging Ash to a feminist duel and her reply, though unexpected, was the most appropriate reply anyone could possibly come up with. This was Ash’s closet and she came out of it. Closets are nothing but difficult conversations that we are terrified of. Also, closets don’t always mean the ‘gay’ closets as people view it- everyone in the world has closets. Their own personal closets which hide a series of issues they are not ready to deal with. Some of us are afraid of opening our hearts, some of us have issues with our parents and their ways of parenting, some of us cannot express ourselves properly and that makes us feel misunderstood and suffocated. Well the truth is that all closets are suffocating.
Ash describes beautifully that though her closet has rainbow walls on the outside, the inside is just as dark as the closets of everyone else. Due to the darkness, it’s impossible to judge the colour of the walls from the inside which makes all of our closets similar. Yes, the issues maybe varying in their intensity of seriousness but to that particular person his or her problem is just as unsolvable as someone with a harder problem. To be honest, their is nothing called ‘harder’, if it’s difficult, it’s difficult- there can be no degree of difficulty. How is it remotely easier to tell your family that you are bankrupt than telling your spouse that you have cancer? None of this is easy and let’s not pretend otherwise.
But we must remind ourselves, closets are noting but hard conversations. The problem itself is not a closet, the act of hiding it from the others, the act of shielding others from looking at our pain- that’s what the darkness of the closet signifies. Why should we hide? Why should we try to kill ourselves slowly in the blackness? We shouldn’t. Let’s clarify one more thing- none of us know what’s on the other side of that door. There’s a chance that people won’t accept us, there’s a chance that we will be ostracised but how is that any worse from our present asphyxiated condition? Wouldn’t it be better if we just dealt with the problem- applied a quick tug to pull off the band-aid?
One more thing, don’t be scared of people’s reactions. They may not be okay with your issues and they may push you away but they are wrong. Their prejudice against you is their story, not yours. If they wish to withdraw themselves to a dark, cold corner and become fossils in the passage of time, it’s not your problem. But the biggest step in coming out of the closet is accepting your own issues because once you’re out, there’s no way to go back inside.
Why would you go back inside anyway? The closet is protective and safe and the walls around you are strong but it’s dreadfully lonely too, and claustrophobic. It’s no way to live a life. The walls are restricting and no matter how much you convince yourself, you know very well that the alternative, though scary and unknown, provides a freedom that you have never tasted before. It’s your life! Love whoever you want to love, live a healthy and happy life because you deserve it. If you have to scream, do scream out loud. You may not believe this now, but there are people who will love you no matter what.
You felt sorry for a little Harry living in a closet under the stairs, didn’t you? So why do you insist on living your entire life in one that is far more depressing and claustrophobic? Come out and meet the people who truly love you.