What's In Your Closet?

by David Snowdeal, SUNY Cortland

Posted in on Tuesday, Apr 22

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Remember when we all thought that there was a monster in our closets? Well, we never did find out if there was a monster, but could there have been? Was the monster that horrible sweater your grandmother gave you for Christmas? Or was the closet too full of stuff for a monster to possibly fit in there? Maybe instead of having too much stuff for a monster to be in the closet, there were nice things in the closet? How about mom’s present we would hide in the closet until it was her birthday? Or that boy or girl that had to hide in the closet when your parent came to the door because he/she wasn’t supposed to be there (for whatever reason). Well, whatever used to be in the closet is in the past, but what about now? What is in your closet now? Is it a monster still, or are there different things in your closet now? Hopefully your clothes are in your closet, or dresser. How about your shoes or textbooks? What about your best friend, or ex?

SUNY Cortland has one of the biggest closets I’ve ever seen. No, I don’t mean big as in it holds so many polos and sweatpants. I’m talking about that metaphorical closet that many people never come out of. For one reason or another, barely anyone feels safe enough to come out of the closet and identify as gay, lesbian, bi, curious, or anything other than straight here at Cortland. Professors, resident assistants, sorority sisters, football players, cheerleaders, janitors, frat brothers, and countless other people I’ve met keep their identity a secret. But college is a time for identification, exploration, and declaration. No one hides something as core to their being as their nationality, or their religion, nor should they ever have to! It isn’t “wrong” to be Italian, Christian, Chinese, or Muslim. And it certainly isn’t “wrong” to be gay, lesbian, bi, curious, or straight! So why are so many different, interesting people locking themselves into a closet with no light, no love, and so little support? Aren’t we all here for the same goals?

College is a free environment which focuses on two things: Getting a degree to get a better job, and to have lots of fun. What fun is it to go all of your college life pretending to be something you’re not? Would you pretend you had hazel eyes, even if you had blue eyes? It sounds so funny, but people come up with the best excuses for hiding in the closet, or in this example, pretending to be straight. “I’m a football player, Dave, no one can know about me being gay/bi/curious,” is something I’ve heard too many times in my life. What does a sport have to do with sexuality? Nothing at all. I’ve heard countless athletes stay in the closet because they were afraid of being kicked off the team, or losing scholarships, or all of these other horrible things that just aren’t possible, but because they were gay/bi/curious, they feared how others would react. If a coach kicks you off of a team because of your sexuality, the coach can be charged with a bias-related crime. This is a crime which the UPD and Judicial Affairs can, should, and will react to. College is meant to be a safe, fun environment for everyone who attends, regardless of major, regardless of religion, regardless of what sport team you may or may not be on, and regardless of sexual orientation, so please help keep it that way.

My closet has some clothes, shoes, and board games in it. That’s because I refused to keep myself in there. It was difficult, and it always will be until things change, but I’ll never go back in. I can only hope that one or two people, after reading this article, will come out of the closet, or if you are heterosexual, help support equality so anyone can come out of the closet when they choose to. The closet isn’t a good place to be, so please help make it safer to come out.

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