Friday, February 19, 2010

I am a Closeted Lesbian : "Get that Woman Out of the Oven this Instant:" Why the Closet is OUT-dated

I'm thinking about closeted lesbians again. I cannot help it. They run from me with rainbows on their backs, as if they are saying "Please, Closet Opener, take me out of the oven before I burn." Why don't we call closeted lesbians what they are truly: ovened lesbians - roasted and broiled lesbians. I don't think the closet really depicts the confines that lesbians put themselves and are sometimes forced into...sure, they're dark and creepy. But closets can also be cozy and comfortable and relieving. As long as closets are occasionally fun places to hide and play in (and they are, my friends), then the lesbians who inhabit them need other motivations to get themselves out and about. We could get right to the point if we said "Oh, she's an ovened lesbian." Ovens are dark and dirty when they are turned off. No one wants to hang out in there, make love in there, make a fort in there, curl up with a good book in there. When ovens are on, they are burning. Even if the oven is off, no lesbian in her right (or left) mind would want to risk being in there when it is turned on. If we point out to the lesbians who are all too cozy in their closets that they actually are in ovens, then perhaps they might decide to come out for a breath of fresh air.

I never identified with the closet, anyway. When I was "closeted," I felt like there was a fire in my center that would eventually eat through or explode the rest of me. I felt like I was in an oven that was set on pre-heat. It was only a matter of time: I would either burn alive or get the hell out of there. Luckily I did get out of the oven. No, it's not all fun and games on the outside. I still support getting out, though. The remnants and scars of second and third degree burns stay with you for life, but better to be burned than to be charred. And better to be charred than to be dead. You may be spit on or ignored or ostracized or persecuted but you'll (hopefully) be alive.

The other benefit of the oven reference is that people will start to feel socially responsible for the PROBABLE TORTURE of those who are stuck or hiding in the lesbian ovens of the world - yes, it will become an issue of social responsibility. Others, who are cool and dry, will be more inclined to help their friend out of an oven than they would be to help her out of a closet. Instead of the live and let live or lazy approach ("What? She needs my help getting out of that closet? Why can't she do it herself - I have more important things to do. And maybe she likes it in there. Who am I to decide?"), people will be more inclined to intercede ("WHAT? She's in the oven? Holy fucking shit! Get her out of there before she's a pile of melted flesh and ash. We don't have time to debate this. MOVE IT, people- open this mother up!"). Oven-opening will eventually become a thing of the past just as will ovened lesbians, but while there are still lesbians in ovens and ovens to be opened it is our social responsibility to raise awareness about their marginalized and unreported/recorded state of existence. For every oven that is opened and lesbian who lives to tell about it, there will be three or four more to follow. The progress of the ripple will take effect; eyes will be opened, and the overheated lesbians of the world will learn to heal. I may be an idealist, but I think an Oven Theory of Lesbianism has a chance!

For now, I'll stick with the concept that you are probably familiar with - the ironically outdated yet ever-present "closeted lesbian." If I were a student right now, I'd be tempted to put the women in prisons on hold and focus on the women in closets. Prisons, closets - they are very similar, so I might even be able to pull off some intersecting, simultaneous projects and studies. Prisons are the closets of lesbians. Closets are the prisons of lesbians. Prisons have their closets. Closets have their prisons. There are lesbians in prisons, there are prisons in lesbians. The language itself deserves academic treatment, let alone the realms of realities, stories, and stats. But since the closet is a proverbial prison, I'd start there and see where it might lead. There are several jobs I'd be interested in, aside from being a Professional Student in the area of Women/Gender/Sexuality/Language Studies. I envision myself counseling women, perhaps women in prisons or closets or ovens of all-of-the-above. And then, as an extra, I'd like to work on a writing project for women and/or lesbians in prison. Empowering women through counseling and writing - helping them reach their goals and find their voices and, sometimes, just survive.

(More closetedandovenedlesbian blog entries to follow. )

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