Closeted

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Closeted and in the closet are adjectives for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, LGBT people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity and aspects thereof, including sexual identity and sexual behavior. It can also be used to describe anyone who is hiding part of their identity because of social pressure.

Lesbian Homosexual woman

A lesbian is a homosexual woman. The word lesbian is also used for women in relation to their sexual identity or sexual behavior, regardless of sexual orientation, or as an adjective to characterize or associate nouns with female homosexuality or same-sex attraction.

Gay is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual. The term was originally used to mean "carefree", "cheerful", or "bright and showy".

Bisexuality Sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity

Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender. It may also be defined as romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity, which is also known as pansexuality.

Contents

Background

In late 20th-century America, the closet had become a central metaphor for grasping the history and social dynamics of gay life. The notion of the closet is inseparable from the concept of coming out. The closet narrative sets up an implicit dualism between being "in" or being "out". Those who are "in" are often stigmatized as living false, unhappy lives. [1] However, though many people would prefer to be “out” of the closet, there are numerous social, economic, familial, and personal repercussions that lead to them remaining, whether consciously or unconsciously, “in” the closet. The decision to come out or remain in the closet is considered a deeply personal one, and outing remains controversial in today’s culture.

Coming out of the closet, often shortened to coming out, is a metaphor for LGBT people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity. The term coming out can also be used in various non-LGBT applications.

Outing is the act of disclosing an LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent. Outing gives rise to issues of privacy, choice, hypocrisy, and harm in addition to sparking debate on what constitutes common good in efforts to combat homophobia and heterosexism. A publicized outing targets prominent figures in a society, for example well-known politicians, accomplished athletes or popular artists. Opponents to LGBT rights movements as well as activists within LGBT communities have used this type of outing as a controversial political campaign or tactic. In an attempt to pre-empt being outed, an LGBT public figure may decide to come out publicly first, although controlling the conditions under which one's LGBT identity is revealed is only one of numerous motives for coming out.

In the 21st century, the related concept of a "glass closet" emerged in LGBT discourse. [2] This term describes public figures, such as entertainers or politicians, who are out of the closet in their personal lives and do not engage in the tactics (such as entering a lavender marriage or publicly dating a person of the opposite sex as a "beard") that were historically used by closeted celebrities to disguise their sexual identity, but have not formally disclosed their sexual orientation on the public record — and who, thus, are technically neither fully in the closet nor fully out of it. [2]

A lavender marriage is a male–female mixed marriage, undertaken as a marriage of convenience to conceal the socially stigmatised sexual orientation of one or both partners. The term dates from the early 20th century and is used almost exclusively to characterize certain marriages of public celebrities in the first half of the 20th century, primarily before World War II, when public attitudes made it impossible for a person acknowledging homosexuality to pursue a public career, notably in the Hollywood film industry. One of the earliest uses of the phrase appeared in the British press in 1895, at a time when the colour was associated with homosexuality.

Effects

In the early stages of the lesbian, gay or bisexual identity development process, people often feel confused and experience turmoil. In 1993, Michelangelo Signorile wrote Queer in America, in which he explored the harm caused both to a closeted person and to society in general by being closeted. [3]

Michelangelo Signorile American journalist, author, and talk radio host

Michelangelo Signorile is an American journalist, author and talk radio host. His radio program is aired each weekday across the United States and Canada on Sirius XM Radio and globally online. Signorile was editor-at-large for HuffPost from 2011 until 2019. Signorile is a political liberal, and covers a wide variety of political and cultural issues.

Seidman, Meeks, and Traschen (1999) argue that "the closet" may be becoming an antiquated metaphor in the lives of modern-day Americans for two reasons.

  1. Homosexuality is becoming increasingly normalized and the shame and secrecy often associated with it appear to be in decline.
  2. The metaphor of the closet hinges upon the notion that stigma management is a way of life. However, stigma management may actually be increasingly done situationally.

The closet, however, is difficult for any non-heterosexual, non-cisgender identified person to fully come "out" of, whether or not that person desires to do so. Scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, author of the Epistemology of the Closet , discusses the difficulty with the closet:

Non-heterosexual is a word for a sexual orientation or sexual identity that is not heterosexual. The term helps define the "concept of what is the norm and how a particular group is different from that norm". Non-heterosexual is used in feminist and gender studies fields as well as general academic literature to help differentiate between sexual identities chosen, prescribed and simply assumed, with varying understanding of implications of those sexual identities. The term is similar to queer, though less politically charged and more clinical; queer generally refers to being non-normative and non-heterosexual. Some view the term as being contentious and pejorative as it "labels people against the perceived norm of heterosexuality, thus reinforcing heteronormativity". Still others say non-heterosexual is the only term useful to maintaining coherence in research and suggest it "highlights a shortcoming in our language around sexual identity"; for instance, its use can enable bisexual erasure.

Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick American academic

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was an American academic scholar in the fields of gender studies, queer theory, and critical theory. Sedgwick published several books considered "groundbreaking" in the field of queer theory, including Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985), Epistemology of the Closet (1990), and Tendencies (1993). Her critical writings helped create the field of queer studies. Her works reflect an interest in a range of issues, including queer performativity; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; non-Lacanian psychoanalysis; artists' books; Buddhism and pedagogy; the affective theories of Silvan Tomkins and Melanie Klein; and material culture, especially textiles and texture.

Recent attention to bullying of LGBTQ youth and teens in the United States gives an indication that many youth and teens remain closeted throughout their educational years and beyond for fear of disapproval from parents, friends, teachers, and community members. To remain in the closet offers an individual a layer of protection against ridicule and bullying.[ citation needed ] However to remain in the closet typically takes a toll on the mental health of the individual, especially in the adolescent years as reflected in suicide rates among LGBTQ youths. [5]

See also

Notes

  1. Seidman, Meeks, and Traschen (1999)
  2. 1 2 "The Glass Closet". www.out.com. 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  3. re-released in 2003 by University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN   0-299-19374-8
  4. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Epistemology of the Closet.
  5. "Generation Q Pride Store brought to you by LAMBDA GLBT Community Services". www.lambda.org. Retrieved 2016-06-12.

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References

Further reading