I am intimate with the Closet. I do not say I know the closet intimately, but that I am, in fact, intimate with it. In the closet my mind is naked and my body is unrestrained. The Closet has ever been my truest, most loyal friend and somewhere along the way we became lovers. Our sex was always quiet, furtive, and urgent. Urgent because we feared we would get caught; furtive because we were filled with guilt; quiet because we hated ourselves and wanted to slip into mute darkness and disappear. We fucked quietly and wept.
The Closet is a fantasy. That was the revelation that nearly killed me. Death beckoned to me dressed as a glass of water on a table strewn with Oxycontin, when I discovered my best friend was a delusion. Oh, part of me always knew that the love affair couldn’t last forever, but I was very, very good at deluding myself, at buying into the fantasy simply to avoid the unthinkable alternative. And when the unthinkable came and I was forced to renounce half of my life in order to embrace the other, the Closet dissolved into a dream. Either alternative seemed a suicide, and real suicide seemed a far more seductive proposition.
I cannot say at what point, in my twenty-five years of existence, I first wandered into that fantasy, but I found it marvelously addictive and nearly impossible to quit. I had a joke with my friends (the very few to whom I was out) that I was so far in the Closet that I was having tea with Tumnus. It was brilliantly funny, and so accurate I wanted to cry. Of course, there was one obvious flaw to my marvelous metaphor—as a Mormon I couldn’t drink tea.
And that was the crux, the reason an endless sleep seemed preferable to choosing between my two, mutually hostile identities—Gay and Mormon. I constructed a theology in Narnia, over my tea with the faun. It was a theology of self-denial and suffering, to crucify my flesh that I might glorify my spirit. And I was devout, a fierce defender of the faith, and eloquent pontificator of this absolutist doctrine. But it was a lie. Narnia, for all of its magical beauty, isn’t real.
Coming out was an ultimate renunciation of the doctrine I had so carefully nurtured. And I came out into a theological vacuum—into an empty abyss void of ethic and teleology. It may as well have been void of air. I needed an ethic, a teleology, a religion if I was to make sense of my life. Mormonism had given them to me in abundance, but also required the impossible of me—heterosexuality. But when I renounced the religion that had been the core of my existence for better than two decades, I found myself bleeding out from a gaping wound in my soul, and I could find nothing to staunch the blood.
The acceptance of either identity, Gay or Mormon, constituted a life-threatening amputation. If I chose the former, I lost the belief structure that gave meaning and purpose to my life, that made sense of suffering and chaos. If I chose the latter, and followed my doctrine to its logical conclusion, I died upon the cross. Coming out, therefore, has been an exercise in survival. To live, to avoid that all too alluring possibility of suicide, has necessitated the construction of a new theology, a post-theology, a theology that doesn’t depend upon fantasies of fauns in a world that doesn’t exist. It is a theology that fuses who I am with what I must believe. A theology that is real, that is living, that I can live with.