Wednesday, September 05, 2007

James McGreevey explains life in the closet

Former governor James McGreevey, in his Washington Post article "A Prayer for Larry Craig," describes how the secrecy and dishonesty of life in the closet destroyed his self-worth and psyche from the inside out.

Everything and everyone told me it was wrong, evil, unnatural and shameful. You decide: I'll change it, I'll fight it, I'll control it, but, simply put, I'll never accept it. You then attempt to place "it" in a metaphorical closet, keep it separate from open daily life and indulge it only in dark, secret places.

The danger of this decision is the implicit shame it carries. I was convinced I was worth less than my straight peers. I was at best inauthentic, and the longer I went without amending that dishonesty, the more ashamed I felt. And the third shame, for me, was my behavior. From the time in high school when I made up my mind to behave in public as though I were straight, I nonetheless carried on sexually with men.

How do you live with this shame? How do you accommodate your own disappointments, your own revulsion with whom you have become? You do it by splitting in two. You rescue part of yourself, the half that stands for tradition, values and America, the part that looks like the family you came from, and you walk away from the other half the way you would abandon something spoiled, something disgusting. This is a false amputation, because the other half doesn't stop existing. When I decided to closet my desire, I also denied the possibility of life as a healthy, integrated gay.

Whenever I hear Christians say that their solution for homosexuality is to "keep it in the closet,"I think about the pain and psychological contortions people like Mr. McGreevey have suffered through--which Senator Craig has apparently still not found his way out of.

Christians talk endlessly about the sinfulness and revulsion of homosexuality. But the gospel teaches that the only sin that is more repulsive than "sinning" is being dishonest about it before God and others. Whatever our views about the morality of homosexuality may be, we can surely all agree that it is spiritually unhealthy and morally wrong for people to deceive themselves--and others--about their struggles. By creating a church environment in which we castigate and ostracize people who do come out of the closet--who are merely seeking to salvage their own dignity and sanity--we are guilty of betraying the gospel of Jesus Christ himself, who calls all sinners, whether straight or gay, to come into the light of his truth.