Coming "Out of the Closet" Not Just for Gays

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

It's not only the gays who struggle to come out of the closet. Many of us are in closets of our own making, closets that have nothing to do with sexual orientation but everything to do with owning our real self.

We are afraid to be real, not so much that we have secret faults to hide, but because down deep we know that we are more than the persona we show the world. All too glibly, we mouthed the words we heard in catechism class or Sunday school, the ones that said, "We are created in the image and likeness of God," but we didn't take them seriously. That was a leap of faith that was too scary.

We accepted instead an image of ourselves based on our success in a professional career or on the money we made or the model car we drove or on the recognition we received from others. That's who we are; the way other people see us. Right? Wrong!

We know better. We really do. In the 6o's a group called "The Seekers" came out with a song called "Georgy Girl." Remember? The lyrics speak to a girl who is afraid to be herself. In part they say:

"Hey there Georgy girl
There's another Georgy deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide and oh, what a change there'd be
The world would see a new Georgy girl."

We're a piece of work aren't we? Born to scan the heavens, we muddle through life with our eyes cast down on the ground beneath us, The gifts within us atrophy because we would rather tamp down the fire that burns in our soul lest we accept the greatness to which we are called. Whoa! Quick, turn on the mindless TV sit-com or do something that that takes our minds off this pesky call to be something more. Nobody is better at dumbing us down than the person we see in the mirror every morning.

We let ourselves get overwhelmed by the photos of poor emaciated children in Biafra, or the Sudan, throw up our hands and act as though we are helpless, forgetting that making a difference in even one life has its importance.

What's the Jewish saying, "By saving one life, you are saving the world. ?" Wow! That's powerful stuff. I get goose bumps, too, whenever I think of the butterfly effect, the fact that even the tiny butterfly flapping its wings makes its presence felt all over the world.

We are connected, mates. Our smiles count, so does our acts of compassion and our forgiveness. But first we have to get out of our closets of fear and timidity and be the lover, the friend, the parent, the kid we were made to be. Don't you think?