One of my acquaintances is very deeply closeted about being gay. No amount of logic or discussion with him will alter this. Of course, it’s futile to try to change anyone’s mind, especially if the view is so deeply personal. When Jorge told this acquaintance that just about everybody knows the person is gay, a heated quarrel ensued. The only result was that the closeted person retreated further into his closet.
There are other kinds of closets besides the LGBT variety. If someone believes that society frowns upon any personal aspect, the construction of the closet begins. One of my autistic friends was closeted about his condition for many years.
Insecurity about oneself and worry over what others might think are the frameworks of the closet or the mask to hide oneself. The belief is that if people cannot see the real you, they cannot harm you. Of all the self-defense strategies, our mental closets or masks are the roots of insincerity.
When a person finally decides to come out of the closet or to drop the mask, an exhilarating sensation of liberation floods through the mind and body. My autistic friend told me he felt amazingly free after he came out about his autism.
Our insecurity is the fuel for dishonesty and insincerity. Every once in awhile we hear about a stridently homophobic preacher or politician who is revealed as a secretly gay person. It turns out that his insecurity, duplicity, and insincerity was at the heart of his adversarial position against the LGBT community.
The more hostile a person is towards gay folks, the more we can suspect that the person is actually gay himself. The efforts to camouflage himself are too obvious. We might call this variety of insincerity “The Moralist’s Trap”. The more the moralist opposes something, the more others will suspect him of harboring the same behavior. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Not all anti-gay preachers or politicians are closeted gay folks. Many of them appear to be insincere about some other perceived “moral failing”. Their dishonesty often causes them to tear others down in order to build themselves up.
Thankfully, my closeted acquaintance is not a clergyman or a politician, so his closeted nature does not fuel a national debate about LGBT civil rights. But it does trigger negativity in his social circle. When he is around his non-gay friends, my acquaintance denies that he knows his gay friends. This frequent betrayal hurts us and himself. People around him view him as untrustworthy.
Who among us is willing to have an untrustworthy person as a close friend or a confidant? Does the insincere person have a close confidant? Jorge wondered aloud if our acquaintance is even fully honest with his priest during the Sacrament of Confession.
Insincerity works in concert with self-loathing, low self-esteem, and self-shaming. The insincere traits like contradiction, and envy are easy for others to see. The insincere person seems blind to this or appears to be in denial about his insincerity about himself.
There is little, if anything, the innocent bystanders can do about the insincerity of others in society. At least we can become aware of it and perhaps look for it in ourselves. Even if we are mildly insincere at times, we understand that it is one of the things to work on during our journeys of self-improvement.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this reminder from the philosopher and critic, George Henry Lewes: “Insincerity is always weakness; sincerity, even in error, is strength.”
Very well written!
I don’t know much about being gay, but I’ve made a considerable study of closets, lies and hypocrisy. My thought is that most people or a lot of people would prefer to be viewed by others in ways that don’t reflect what they actually are, but are not at all interested in being the person they wish to be seen by others to be. This applies to so many facets of human behaviors that I believe it might be a dominant feature of the human experience. Closet gays, closet alcoholics, closet tweakers, junkies, coke snorters, crackheads, …… veterans who worked in the motor pool or as finance clerks in the military a lifetime ago who now want people to believe they were crawling through the jungle setting up ambushes. I even know a guy who is a closet chess player. He doesn’t want his friends to know he sneaks off some afternoons to play chess with me. My thought is the problem isn’t in what others think, or don’t think. It’s something we impose on ourselves and mostly refuse to admit to ourselves we’re doing it. Some are so submerged in it the behavior probably qualifies as a pathology….. and most of us have known people who had it.
Thank you for your insights.