"I'm not comfortable here."
This exchange happened between my partner and I a few days ago, while at home. It's critical to point out that I did indeed mean that I felt uncomfortable at home, with my family. It's far easier for me to be at work. Far easier.
It's not that I'm particularly fond of working or even that I would consider myself a workaholic. I'm just more comfortable there. It's less stressful. I can think clearly. It's generally quieter. And I don't even get to be myself*. I'm just a person in a uniform. Rarely do I get called by my name, usually it's just "Sir" or "Commander" or whatever my job title happens to be at the moment. Nearly pure anonymity. With the masks worn for the pandemic, it's almost faceless as well.
It's an armor of sorts, this bland uniformity, this faceless anonymity. How easy it is to hide in plain sight. It's what's most comfortable, because it's what I've been perfecting for my entire adult life. I've long prided myself as sembling a chameleon, able to quietly blend in, nearly unnoticed, anywhere.
Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & which parts we've created to protect us.~ Posted at 1611 on 1/7/2020 by Alexander Leon, @alexand_erleon
Masking fear with anger, shutting down instead of opening up and pushing people away instead of letting them in: all of these help keep a foot in the closet, as it were. It keeps a known security zone, a well established safety net, in place. It answers the question: what will go wrong if I open up to people?
But, what will go right?
*Perhaps more appropriately, I don't have to face myself and embrace the true me.