Social stigmas keep gays in closet

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    Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or tea?

    Gay or straight?

    Pick the odd one out.

    If you guessed “gay or straight,” you win a fabulous prize: Understanding.

    Prominent evangelist Rob Schenck got it right when he said that homosexuality is not a choice, but rather something deeply rooted in some humans.

    What is a choice is the decision to come out of that so-called “closet.” Is it a closet or is it a shelter against the hard realities of a community destined to define people, committed to conform them and eager to exclude them?

    From my perspective, coming out was worth the price of injustice, discrimination and harassment. For others, that price is just not right.

    Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey decided to pay up.

    Speaking about the “outing” of McGreevey, Cheryl Jacques, executive director of the Washington, D.C. based gay advocacy group human rights campaign said: “The dangers of the closet are true regardless of who we are, regardless of occupation or family circumstances. Being in the closet means lying and deceiving …”

    Last I checked, lying and deceiving were considered sins, but it is okay because those gays are “unhappy” and “immoral.”

    A myriad of shadowy dealings forced McGreevey to resign; however, the most impetus force was his clandestine homosexual affair. McGreevey lied to and deceived his family, his friends and his constituency; however, he was also lying to himself.

    In his coming-out speech, McGreevey said, “At a point in every person’s life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is.” McGreevey knew that lying to himself was making him “unhappy.”

    What McGreevey was facing is called internalized homophobia, something that affects almost every homosexual prior to and during the coming-out process.

    When negative beliefs about gay people infiltrate the minds of gay individuals, it is called internalized homophobia, according to a 2003 article in Guidance & Counseling. Internalized homophobia can manifest itself in denial, sometimes lasting years or decades and “heterofacsimile,” the purposeful attempt to appear heterosexual or more masculine, which can include getting married as proof of heterosexuality.

    For years, I denied it. I was just a late bloomer and tomorrow I would find the sex appeal in that girl two seats in front of me. I was not different, just slow.

    For two years, I was slow.

    Then one night, after an attempt to cure myself with a speeding car and an old oak tree, I realized the reason I was not happy was because I was being dishonest with myself. Why?

    Conformity had me in its grasp but happiness set me free.

    Societal mores say “it’s not okay to be gay” but, I say, it’s not okay to force someone to deny his or her true being.

    By creating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, Prop. 2 helped advocate denial thus undermining the sanctity of marriage.

    So often, marriage vows include the line: I promise to love, honor and respect thy wife or husband. Is a gay man loving, honoring and respecting his wife by living a lie? Does that not create a marriage that is not based on honesty, but on deceit?

    Who is living in sin now?

    Bryce Romero is a senior international communication major from Scottsdale, Ariz.