There is one thing that all people who have successfully lived life in the closet have mastered – putting on a mask.
In an attempt to bring life to this issue, a few months ago, myself, an incredible photographer and several other brave souls have attempted to shed light on what life inside the closet, and the coming out process is really like for some of us.
Now I don’t want to paint too depressing of a picture, but the reality behind my, and many others situation is it’s a shitty one. My main goal with this crazy adventure is to reverse this reality, but it order to do that I believe it is important to understand where we are now.
This is an emotional and often uncomfortable process. Even for me. It requires a strong stomach and a big heart. We often hear the phrase, “a day in the life of someone else’s shoes,” but in my time of coming out I never really heard “a day in the life” that I could relate to. After all, how many gay football coaches have you heard of?
None. But, I quickly realized that my story, football aside, is not very unique. My ability to tell it, however, is.
The photo series is far from done, but I would like to introduce it and tell a short story behind this picture.
First of all I would like to say that this IS NOT what everyone experiences when coming out. Some coming out stories are filled with hope, love and joy. Some coming out stories are more like mine. And others – on a trauma spectrum – put mine to shame. It’s important to recognize all of them and understand this is one side of a big picture.
So on to the photo…
My story contains many different themes. This is one of them. By the looks of it you can probably guess this one – anger. A deep, intrenched and unescapable anger. An anger and frustration that dominates every aspect of life.
In the beginning, it’s fear. It’s fear that keeps you in the closet and provides separation from who you really are and who you pretend to be. But, when the fear of yourself gives way and you get your moment of clarity, a new fear rears its ugly head. The fear of who you really are and who everyone else thinks you are.
An easy route is to say, “well, who cares?” but, until you’ve lived that life – which most of you will not – it’s hard to comprehend.
My story is unique in a way because of where I found my niche in life – football. To be honest, football is not the most gay friendly place. I am not bashing on football, it’s just a reality of the current climate. So even though I accepted and loved myself, there was another major obstacle. Football.
The risk of being myself and keeping my job in the capacity and with the respect I wanted was to great. That fear turned to anger.
Would they still love and accept me? No one knows yet, but that picture is a result of years of wondering.
That picture is the result of living life behind a mask.