“In the closet” is a phrase frequently used to describe someone in the LGBTQ+ community who has not yet come out publicly about their sexual, romantic, or gender orientation.
Living ‘in the closet’ is not something people always choose to do. Sometimes, they must do it due to different factors in their life. As unfortunate as it is that it happens, there are ways to survive the closet until it is safe or you are ready to come out.
Living life in the closet is something that an unfortunate amount of teens and adults face every day. It is not usually their choice, but it is something that almost everyone in the LGBTQ+ community has faced at some point or another. Hopefully, someday it will be almost unheard of if not unseen among the community. Until we are at that point as a society, it is still a fact of life for many people. However, there are some ways that this experience can go just a bit better for those people.
Just because you can’t go all-out to express yourself doesn’t mean there aren’t more subtle ways of showing off your pride.
There are many ways that you can subtly show your identity off. Examples of this could include: pride-colored jewelry, clothing, accessories, etc. You could also express yourself through art, such as writing or drawing. Many people also join clubs or groups where they can be open about who they are, rather than keeping quiet and closeted.
When you do get to the point of coming out, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Always make sure it is safe for you to do it because your safety should be your number one priority. Not everyone is going to be very accepting in the beginning or, maybe even not at all. It may be a shock to them, so you might have to give them time. You also should determine who you are going to come out to ahead of time to be able to gauge their reactions and determine if it will be safe for you.
Expressing yourself is very important to people who are in the closet.
Without having some way to express themselves, some people may feel like they can not be who they are. It can cause an identity crisis in anyone old or young and lead to depression in some cases. The lack of being able to express oneself is a problem that no closeted person should ever have to deal with in their (most likely) already stressful life. Not only does it add stress, but it also takes a massive toll on people’s mental and physical health.
Expressing yourself can come in many different shapes and forms; one of them is buying or making subtle pride apparel. Some people may purchase small buttons with their pride colors or pronouns on them. Buttons are a fun way to express how you identify because there are millions of designs out there that can be as over the top LGBTQ+ or barely noticeable. Buttons are also easy to put on and take off, depending on what situation you happen to find yourself in at that time, and they can attach to virtually anything. Besides buttons, there are things such as jewelry that come in a variety of colors including, pride flag colors. As far as jewelry goes, you do not necessarily need to buy it to have it. Many people make their own.
Many closeted people are young, sometimes even in their preteens. With this in mind, that means many young LGBTQ+ people do not have a job or access to any source of income or money to buy hidden pride apparel for themselves. You can express your feelings about being in the closet and your sexuality or romantic preference through your art as well. Art is something inexpensive people can make, and it is usually easy to hide, whether that is in a notebook or a hidden file on your phone or computer. Art is a general term that can refer to things such as drawing, painting, writing, and so on. Many LGBTQ+ folks tend to be able to access notebooks and writing/ drawing utensils, so this may be a potential solution for them.
“Some forms of these inexpensive ideas could include but are not limited to: phone backgrounds or lock screens, color schemes in clothes you already have, journaling, drawing, painting, digital art, writing, making jewelry, etc.”
There are countless other activities – with things that are ready and able to be accessed by you – that you can participate in to help express yourself. These small things can help you ground yourself and may help you feel more comfortable about your identity. Many people, unfortunately, are too scared to do these things because they don’t want anyone to find out. That is a very rational way to feel and, in some cases, it is smart. Some places are not as safe as others to express identity in the LGBTQ+ community.
Some ideas that may help include; putting writing and drawings in a folder with a label like “history” or “science” and putting those corresponding categories’ papers in front of your work. You can put things under some clothes in a wardrobe, or mattress as well. Are you into novels? You could hide papers in books as well. However, some people are uncomfortable with having things that people could find by mistake, and that’s okay. You can type and draw on things digitally where it may be easier to hide them.
Another way people in the closeted LGBTQ+ community can express themselves is through social groups. Some schools offer a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club, where anyone in any form of the LGBTQ+ community or cishet community can come together to express their ideas and feelings. Unfortunately, this is not a worldwide offer, and some people do not have access to one or a club close to it. Luckily, in the age of technology, there are multiple online groups for people in the LGBTQ+ community to join and participate in expressing themselves. One such group is our very own “Gay Agenda Discord”! It is a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community where you can hang out, make friends, and be yourself.
Sometimes, just having people know what you’re going through can help a significant amount. You may not even know the people in your personal life, but chances are they have gone through or are currently going through a similar situation. No matter what the circumstances, having a friend – or multiple – who are there to listen and support you through thick and thin would help anyone a lot. They do not have to be just people you met online. You could talk to people in your real life as well to help you get through the different phases in your life.
No matter who it is, it is always helpful to try your best to surround yourself with people who will love and support you and who you can confide in with how you are feeling. Not only will this help you better express yourself, but it can also prevent you from having a sense of loneliness or even getting depression, which no one wants for you. Surround yourself with people who want to see you be the best you can be and who believe in you so that you can see what they see and believe in yourself.
Coming out of the closet is not something you should feel forced to do.
You need to take it at your own pace and in your own time. If that means waiting a while, so be it. In some cases, it can even be dangerous to come out, so you need to have your safety as your top priority. Coming out is a process and it can take a little bit of time, a long time, or somewhere in the middle.
When someone is being forced into the closet, they may feel discouraged or depressed, and it can lead to negative thoughts. It is crucial to remember that things will improve and it will get better. As a community, if you know someone is struggling with these feelings – closeted or not – surround them with support and let them know you are there for them. It is critical to know that there are people here for you. Keep fighting, stay strong, you can do it. It may feel like forever, but it will end and you will be okay. Don’t lose hope, you are worth it, and it will get better.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Hotline/safe space to talk): 1-866-488-7386