Sublimating Gayness

Posted on May 14th, 2013 by Lauren Gutterman

FRANK Book Pic MediumFrom Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Visiting Scholar Nathaniel Frank, originally published in the New York Times on May 12th:

To the Editor:

In “The Best Little Boy in the World — That’s Me” (Op-Ed, May 7), Adam D. Chandler stresses the consequences of the closet: both diminished self-worth and spurring overachievement to compensate. These are experiences confirmed by my and others’ research on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the costs of concealment generally, including the new study Mr. Chandler mentions.

He wonders, then, if coming out will lower his drive. But for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, shame, stress and the drive to surpass the rest don’t come solely from concealment. They also result from living in a world that tells us day after day that we’re morally bad, which can spark a painful drive to prove that we’re morally good — whether we’re out or not.

I welcome Mr. Chandler out of the closet, an important and impressive step forward. But my message to him is not to worry too much that the bright light will sap his drive. Until more L.G.B.T. people take this courageous step, and more straight people stop defining our sexuality as morally rotten, too many of us will continue to endure this needless pain.

Brooklyn, May 8, 2013


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