Recently, in a group I belong to (mostly for the purpose of raising my blood pressure) someone wished that all “deviants” would be forced “back into the closet.”
In the context of the thread, where the deviants were people with tendencies that definitely harmed others that was kinda sorta understandable.
You know what else? I even understand not wanting to hear everything about everyone’s sex life. I mean, I don’t want to hear anything about anyone’s sex life, except the guy I’m married to, and in that case I sort of want to be there for it.
Yeah, I’m also the sort of judging … woman who thinks that some sexual (and non-sexual practices) should be looked askance at. Take the case of that farm in one of the states that turns out to have no law against bestiality. Horses were raised to have sex with people and some people died of it.
Sure the humans consented (or paid for it.) Sure, horses aren’t sentient or at least not in a legal way and if we start protecting their rights we get into “should we ride them? Have they given affirmative consent?”. It’s still something that if it came up in my friend’s circle, I’d say “uh… I don’t think that’s a wholesome or healthy lifestyle. Maybe you should talk to a therapist? Or have you considered just having a rich fantasy life, instead?”
Also there was that guy who was having sex (I swear I’m not making this up) with the gas inlets in people’s cars in downtown Colorado Springs, where we lived at the time. Not only did I not want to hear about it, I didn’t want him to do that to our car (because I wasn’t sure what that would do to the engine) and also, yeah, I think he needed psychiatric help.
But when we say that “all deviants” ought to be “driven” “Back into the closet” it’s important to think about why, and what it means.
Okay, I don’t want to hear about people’s sex lives, and by and large I don’t. I have a friend who took a while to give up on shocking me, but that’s past. Other than a few jokes, we just don’t mention that stuff. Other than that, I leave such discussions at parties, skim past them in books, etc. So people’s tendency to overshare — which affects “normal” (in the sense of majority) and “deviants” in equal measures, it seems — doesn’t affect me at all.
Other than that, what my friends like in bed or out of it is none of my business, so far as I don’t want to have sex with them, and don’t think of them as sexual people. Sometimes I have to remember a new significant other, or a plural one as far as party invitations or plus ones at get togethers, but that’s it. I might think their choices in life are unwise, but no one has made me queen of how people live (thank heavens.)
So… deviants and closets.
It occurs to me that for certain people it is profoundly uncomfortable to have people do things they disagree with/don’t think should be done, and not even be ashamed of them.
Most of the time I see this in the context of the left wanting us “political deviants” back in the closet, because the fact that we think the way we do, while belonging to one or more of what they consider “naturally leftist” groups makes their teeth itch. It challenges their world view to have us be otherwise decent people, and educated and yet not agree with them on welfare or “social justice.” Their simplistic and tidy worldview doesn’t accommodate us, and so we should be destroyed or “keep decently quiet.” How many times have you heard people say “I used to like you, but now you’re just a full on right winger” and you go “I’ve barely even started to talk tack. I just used to put up with your unhinged rants with no protest, and now I protest?”
But it is not just on the left. Frankly, though bigotry is rarer on the right (defined as American right, smaller government, more laisse faire, more individualism) I still make many heads explode as a foreign born woman who tans, with an MA in languages, who nonethless pegs pretty close to the Libertarian end of the spectrum (except for not believing in open borders and thinking collective self-defense is a right too.) There are people nominally on our side who wish I’d go back in the political closet too. Then they could imagine me to be a leftist liberal and their world view could be tidy again.
Honestly, I think this is what the person was clamoring for — the deviants he meant in this case were not only people whose sexual habits harm others but everyone who deviates from average, as he made abundantly clear — that everyone who is (as a lot of members of this group are) conservative/libertarian and say gay (there are other “deviances, but he was aiming at that) go back into the closet, because they were messing up his tidy little world, in which if you’re off-beat in any way, you belong to the left.
Me? I think this is crazy-cakes. We’re conceding to the left not just the sexual deviants, but everyone who is a minority and off beat. And then we’re shocked when they identify was left. Or consider them the enemy because they’re left. After all, they’d be perfectly welcome… in the closet.
Look, my closet was political, but the staying in the closet thing implied living a lie so thorough that I had to watch everything that came out of my mouth, every minute of the day. Social situations became debilitating: both not debunking the falacies other people spouted, and watching my every expression and eye movement. It made me ill with stress. It’s no way to live.
And yet, just as the left wants people “back in the closet” a lot of our side wants a lot of “off beat” people (not just sexually) back in the closet. Because it’s easier on US.
Now, there is a flip side. People who are out of the closet often go through a crazy phase, where EVERYONE MUST BE INFORMED. I tried to control that, and I try not to do things like, say, rub my political beliefs in my lefty brother’s face. Sure, he reads my blog at his own risk (and going to mom and telling me to stop won’t work, because, as before, she just laughs.) But in family occasions, I don’t spout about politics, and he has to do far more than a casual comment for me to respond. (Look, when he said the Chinese were less racists than Americans and that’s why they were making headway in Africa, I just ran to the basement to dial a friend in the US and laugh my head off, okay? I didn’t start a big argument there, over the Sunday roast.) Because I’m not going to change his mind, he’s not going to change mine, and why make everyone around us uncomfortable?
I find my sane gay friends have the same attitude. They might refer to their SOs, or even hold hands in public, but they don’t feel the need to chase after parents and older friends going “Look, look! You have to praise me for this.”
So called activists are a different matter.
The thing is, liberty means allowing people to do and be things we don’t approve of. So long as they’re not actively hurting us, WHY should we want people to live a life of duplicity and concealment?
Sure, if one of my friends took up a life of screwing gas pipes, I’d rather he didn’t talk about it. Or maybe not, since we’d have to know so we could get him to see a psychiatrist. And I have no need to hear about what people do in bed. But if my friend is in a long-term, committed relationship, why would I wish him to keep that absolutely secret? Or pretend to be single? Wouldn’t that be painful for everyone concerned?
And why would I want that in an at-large society. I believe sunlight is better than pretense, anyway. If things are out in the open, it’s easy to see the flaws.
And if I really like someone who has — say — taken up an unhealthy interest in pain killers, I might try to get them to see it’s not healthy. But only if I know about it. If they’re keeping it secret, I’ll only know when it gets really bad and they die.
But more importantly, if you desire people would hide what YOU consider objectionable, have you consider that other people might want you to hide what THEY consider objectionable? And that the society this ends up in is a pretense, where much worse perversions and strangeness flourish under cover.
Yeah, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind and not being rude and rubbing our weirdness (this includes some writer-stuff, btw. You’d be amazed how many people are weirded out by it) in other people’s faces is a good thing.
But closets? Oh, hell no. I favor the truth. To the extent people need to know, tell the truth and shame the devil.
And get your nose out of your neighbors’ affairs. Leave a decent and moral life as you conceive of it. Give your opinion when asked for. Other than that? It’s none of your business. Stop pushing people to a left which, should it take control, will enforce a bizarre and totalitarian conformity.
You’re a lover of freedom. Remember this means freedom for others as well as yourself.