Closeting – Personal Experience
TW: Discussion of suicidal thoughts, invalidation and homophobia
By now, we’ve managed to establish what closeting is and the negative effects it can have on those affected by it. We have illustrated what closeting within the music industry looks like with examples of celebrities who have since opened up about their experiences. However, closeting isn’t just something that exists for the rich and famous. It’s everywhere. In real life, people are forced out of schools, jobs, friendships, and even families if they don’t agree to keep their preferences a secret and present a heteronormative front.
Jessica is one of the many people who has suffered closeting in their jobs and has bravely agreed to discuss the experience with No Stunts Magazine.
Name/Twitter Handle (optional) – Jessica
Country Of Residence – USA
Occupation/Length Spent In Current Occupation – Military/15 years
- What attracted you to your occupation?
Family tradition to serve in the military.
- As long as you’re comfortable, can you tell us your orientation within the LGBTQAT+ community?
I refer to myself as gay or queer since I was married to a man briefly I don’t feel accepted by lesbians if I refer to myself as a lesbian.
- What do ‘discrimination’ and ‘closeting’ mean to you?
Discrimination to me means being related as an inferior person due to something beyond your control so being judged as a poor worker but not based on the quality of your work. Closeting means having to hide your sexual preferences for any number of reasons including your safety.
- Were there any hints that you may be subjected to any unfair treatment due to your sexuality when you first began your job?
When I first joined my job people were still getting kicked out if they were found out to be gay. When I was still in training I had a younger female coworker that was kicked out because she was outed as a lesbian. I don’t know the details of how that happened but it showed me that it was real.
- Did you notice anyone else in your company experiencing the same treatment or was it just you?
Being in the military as a woman is not easy because we are automatically a minority but then also being a person of colour and a member of the LGBTQ+ community makes it even more difficult. I noticed male coworkers who behaved effeminate be passed up for promotions or awards they deserved. Lesbians are more tolerable to my male coworkers because they see that as a sexual fantasy. Just someone that “hasn’t had good dick”.
- When did you first notice you were being closeted?
I had to closet myself when I signed my contract to join the military. The recruiter said, “I’m not allowed to ask you if you are gay or anything like that but if you are then don’t be”.
- Could you tell us what happened and how you felt?
At first, I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal because I was signing up to do a job and it was only a six-year contract. I didn’t think I would still be doing it after all this time.
- Did you have any support to deal with any negative emotions this treatment left you with?
I have a few friends that I’m out to and we are supportive of each other but for the most part, I deal with it on my own. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and have had suicidal thoughts come and go. But I hide all that from my job.
- Would you say your treatment at work escalated or remained the same as the first time you were closeted?
The military likes to pretend things are better now. They celebrate pride and have LGBTQ+ support groups that nobody goes to for fear of outing themselves. It’s all for show and a lot of progress has to be made. People don’t get kicked out anymore for being gay but you are still treated like a second-class citizen. I mostly see this with gay men or transgender people. Lesbians or bisexual women are treated as sexual objects and are subject to sexual jokes about threesomes.
- Do you have any advice for someone who might find themselves in a similar position?
Make sure whatever you are closeting yourself for is worth it. Get yourself a support group of people who you can be yourself with and at the end of the day remember that work is not your life.
- Do you see your situation with work changing any time soon? Or, if it has already changed, what happened and how did you feel about it?
It has started to change on the surface but real change takes time, especially in a male-dominated career field like the military. Change is difficult and people usually resist change.
- Is there anything else you would like to share on this topic?
Having a support group is important even if it is online with people you don’t know in real life.
If you would like to discuss this article with the interviewee you can reach her on twitter @Jessica8384ny
Resources for LGBTQIA+