General Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Do homosexuals have a moral responsibility to come out of the closet?

Asked by SmashTheState (14228points) February 21st, 2011

I have a friend who is in the closet. It’s not much of a closet, since everyone has sort-of-known he’s queer for years. He doesn’t deny it, he just refuses to say anything about it. Every time I bring up the subject, he gets angry and says it’s none of my business.

My feeling is that so long as people are still being beaten for holding hands with someone of the same sex when they walk down the street; so long as we have religious demagogues spreading hate and lies; so long as there’s political repression against homosexuality; so long as the majority of the population still sees nothing wrong with using the word “gay” as an epithet meaning “stupid” — then gay people have a moral and ethical responsibility to announce themselves and show all their friends and family and co-workers that there is a human face to the queer community, and that their hatred and prejudice directly harms people who are dear and close to them.

There was once a time in our culture when homosexuality was treated either as a terrible crime or a disease which had to be “treated.” Unthinkable evil was perpetrated upon people for their sexual orientation. (If you need a practical example, you need look no farther than Alan Turing: one of the greatest minds of our time, the single individual most responsible for defeating the Nazis, the man who cracked the Enigma Code and created the mathematical formulae which allowed the development of radar, that incredible mind, shattered by torture for the “crime” of being homosexual.) It was not until very, very brave men, women, and others stood up and “outed” themselves, stood up and refused to be silent any longer, that queer people everywhere began to gain their dignity and human rights.

The queer community as it exists today owes a tremendous debt to those first brave fighters. Any person reading this who has ever walked into a gay bar openly, without fear of arrest, violence, or social stigma bears a debt to the warriors of Stonewall who stood nose to nose with brutally infuriated police, fought them fearlessly in the streets — and won.

I believe that if you are queer and you choose to hide, you bear a small part of the blame and responsibility every time someone who is brave enough to stand up is harmed. If you’re cowering in the closet, then yours is one of the hands who tied Matthew Shepard to the fence and left him to die.

What do you think?

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82 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think anyone has an obligation to go public with information about his or her sexual behavior or sexual inclinations.

Kraigmo's avatar

I think that’s too much pressure for people who are already under family pressure. I’d never want to inflict this on them. The only closeted gays who have a moral responsibility to come out, are the ones who hypocritically support “family values”/anti-gay types of laws.

Dr_C's avatar

Regardless of your feelings on the subject, no one should ever be under any obligation to reveal more about their personal lives than they want to.

Your friend has every right to get pissed that you keep bringing up the subject. It really is none of your business.

before anyone starts going off on the subject, I don’t believe this applies to registered sex offenders

SmashTheState's avatar

@Dr_C Wait, what does being homosexual have to do with being a sex offender?

Haleth's avatar

“So long as people are still being beaten for holding hands with someone of the same sex when they walk down the street; so long as we have religious demagogues spreading hate and lies; so long as there’s political repression against homosexuality; so long as the majority of the population still sees nothing wrong with using the word “gay” as an epithet meaning “stupid” — then gay people have a moral and ethical responsibility to announce themselves and show all their friends and family and co-workers that there is a human face to the queer community, and that their hatred and prejudice directly harms people who are dear and close to them.”

It seems like straight people have a much stronger moral responsibility to stop beating people up, spreading hate, and using epithets. Gay people have no moral responsibility to single themselves out for that treatment. If you’re straight, and support gay rights, why not speak up on their behalf?

absalom's avatar

If you’re cowering in the closet, then yours is one of the hands who tied Matthew Shepard to the fence and left him to die.

This is ridiculous.

You are looking at a group of repressed people and telling them they have a moral obligation not to be repressed.

The closet is not a haven for cowardly homosexuals.

The closet is constructed by a heterosexist society. Its door is locked by a heterosexist society and the key to that door is then eaten by a heterosexist society.

And exiting the closet is not so easy as turning a handle.

I think your question or idea is well-meaning but completely wrong.

Homosexual men and women are put into the proverbial closet by other people with bogus standards or traditions. They never enter it of their own accord, so attributing moral obligation or blame otherwise is mistaken.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Sexual inclinations are not public information, except on shock jock radio and television talk shows.

Queer and gay are different.

dalepetrie's avatar

I look at it from another angle. Ideally, everyone would have the bravery and self-confidence to admit publicly if they were homosexual, even knowing that it would alienate some and possibly expose them to danger (or at very least discrimination). But a moral “responsibility”? I don’t think anyone has a responsibility to do anything but be who they are comfortable being. I say that to reveal something private about yourself (no matter what it is), when doing so is a self-sacrifice, so that it may benefit others in society as a whole is a noble act, one that garners great respect. The same as the brave young black men who sat at the lunch counter at Woolworths in the days of segregation until they got served…the same as the people who have volunteered to fight in foreign wars for our freedoms and defense….the same as the firefighters who ran INTO the World Trade Center. These are all people of note, they are/were exceptionally brave people who put the good of all others above their own self interests.

But most people are not like that, nor should they be. In a utopian world, we would all be brave enough to take a stand for the things we believed in, we would all be willing and able to sacrifice ourselves for the common man, we would all face peril bravely and honorably. But we don’t…and if we did, the would would have no heroes. If everyone were brave, noble an self-sacrificing, these qualities wouldn’t be exceptional, they would not be worth celebrating. I admire and respect people who can and will leave their comfort zone to help others, but I do not “disrespect” anyone who chooses not to do so.

At times, I personally have taken a stand for things in which I believed…at other times I’ve done what would benefit me the most….we all have, even our heroes. Sexual identity is to me a private matter, and it seems to me that it’s not a matter of responsibility to make that private knowledge public, but a matter of choice. Those who choose to make that decision for the betterment of their fellow humans are acting admirably, they are setting an example for the rest of us, it is up to each individual whether to follow that example. Personally, because I believe sex is a private matter, when someone shares something about their sexual behavior or preference, I want to know if there’s a reason I should know this. If it’s none of my business, I don’t need to hear about it.

I’ll give an example…when I was in my first year of college, I met an out of the closet homosexual male for the first time in my life (I grew up in a small, rural town…I’m sure at least some of the people I’d met growing up were homosexual, I just didn’t know which ones). This person was miitantly out of the closet, very in your face about it, it was basically the first thing he wanted EVERYONE he met to know about him, and it was all he talked about. Around the same time, I met another guy, this one straight, who would every time we talked, regale me with stories of his sexual exploits with women. To me, these men were two sides of the same coin…I didn’t care what EITHER of them did in the bedroom (or wherever), none of my business, these are things I didn’t care to know about them…they were oversharers. This is why I have a hard time with the concept of “gay pride”...I’m all about being proud of who you are, and your sexual identity is indeed part of your identity, but your instinctive sexual urges are nothing in my opinion to take pride in, exactly BECAUSE they are not a matter of personal choice. Winning an award, running a marathon, sacrificing of yourself to help others, these are things to be proud of…instinctive behaviors like sex, eating and breathing just ARE. I think if you’re gay and have made the decision to come out despite the fact that it was going to inflict some pain upon you in some way, then you have something to be proud of.

The only time I see a potential moral responsibility here is in the case of someone who is in the public eye who is looked upon as a role model, if they go to lengths to deny who they are. I’ll use the example of Tom Cruise…he may or may not be gay, he says he isn’t, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise. Now, that could all be misguided gossip and speculation, but if it is not, let’s look at what he is doing. Though I would agree he has no moral responsibility to come out, despite his fame, if he is gay and is going to great lengths such as getting married (repeatedly) having a baby, suing anyone who even suggests that he might be gay, and making his servants sign onerous contracts that would bankrupt them if they said anything about his personal life, and was doing all this just so people would not know he was gay, that’s kind of a moral failing as I see it. If one has to work that hard to hide something, then one is implying that there is something wrong with what is being hidden, and that sets back the cause.

I guess what I’m getting at as an underlying principal is one that is fairly universal…do no harm. I don’t think you do ANY harm by not coming out if you are gay, despite the fact that you’re not doing as much as you could be for the cause. Unfortunately, by this logic, everyone who has ever had an abortion should be required to tell the world because maybe it would cause people to stop bombing abortion clinics. By that logic, if you’ve ever had surgery for hemmorhoids, you have a moral responsibility to make that info public so that people who laugh at the word might begin to think of it as a serious medical condition (no one laughs at polio). Every man with a small penis should then immediately wear a T-shirt proudly claming his 4 incher, so that normal guys wouldn’t feel the need to buy overpriced sports cars.

I think it’s up to heterosexuals not to assume that everyone else lives the way they do. Awareness will help lead to acceptance in the long run, but as long as there is ignorance, violence and shame, it will remain a matter of valor to own one’s sexual identity in a public manner for the greater good.

ETpro's avatar

Moral bravery is for each of us to legislate within ourselves. If he gets angry when you pry, he’s right. It really is none of your business. It would be great if he threw his voice into support of his fellow homosexuals, but that is for him alone to decide. None of us share the upbringing, experiences, genes, or neural wiring of anyone else. We are in no position to say what we would do if we really were “in their shoes.”

Plucky's avatar

I don’t think anyone has a “moral responsibility” to share information of their sexual preferences/behaviours. I believe moral responsibility, in this respect, lies within being true to oneself.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

No, a person has just as much right to privacy as they do to love who they love. There are tons of people who don’t know my sexuality simply because it’s none of their damn business.

Nullo's avatar

No. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the moral responsibility in this case is to lock that closet up like a bank vault.
I’m sure that this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think so, although I feel one shouldn’t have to live in a society that would make them feel this way, but we can’t do anything about that now.

Vunessuh's avatar

“If you’re cowering in the closet, then yours is one of the hands who tied Matthew Shepard to the fence and left him to die.”

By this statement alone, I think you have a very corrupt and rudimentary understanding of what it can be like to be gay.

lillycoyote's avatar

Again, I have not read the whole thread here or even all the details in the question but my answer is no. Absolutely not. It is our society that makes it a big deal and homosexuals are under no obligation to discuss their sexual orientation with any one any more than anyone else is. And other homosexuals that believe they are possibly under some obligation; who feel the need to out them? Well, I think they’re wrong. I’m straight but that is my opinion. Correct me if you think I am wrong, please.

6rant6's avatar

I agree that coming out is something that helps put away discrimination – the more the merrier sort of thing. So I would say it would be a good thing to do.

I also believe that people have a moral responsibility to do good things.

But I don’t believe that anyone can do ALL the good things. So we pick which ones we do. If your friend is working on other issues, especially if he isn’t denying his orientation, then he’s not under any obligation IMO.

Sunny2's avatar

I think you are being too hard on your friend. Who are you to determine what someone else should do about a private matter? There are people with strong personalities who welcome the lime light and a righteous cause to fight for. Others are more reticent to play that roll. Let your friend determine what he wants to do. Step back and be a friend. And respect your friend for who he is, not for what you want him to be that he is not.

DominicX's avatar

I agree with @absalom on this one. Obviously this is well-meaning but completely wrong. Homosexuals are under and should be under no obligation to come out of the closet. There are countless issues that surround coming out of the closet and being cowardly is rarely one of them.

First of all, how are you defining “coming out of the closet”? Does it mean you think people should be obligated to tell their family and friends? Does it mean they need to tell most people they come in contact with? Who needs to be told?

Sexuality is a personal issue. No one has any kind of right to know whom I’m attracted to. Technically, that is true. It’s not practical and that is why plenty of people do know that I’m gay, but sexuality is something personal that many people simply do not wish to tell others about; that’s one of many reasons why someone may avoid coming out of the closet.

People also have to deal with issues of rejection by family and friends and various misunderstandings and assumptions; it can add a whole new level of complication to a person’s life that is not needed. I wouldn’t call people wanting to avoid that “cowering in the closet”. As cheesy as this sounds, we can all help end discrimination against LGBT people, regardless of orientation. Yes, being out of the closet makes your cause more visible and effective, but there should be no obligation. However, as negative attitude toward homosexuality goes down (which it does), people will feel more and more free to come out of the closet.


Yeah, because pretending a problem doesn’t exist solves the problem. And yes, we get it. You’re a Christian-Rightist. So what else is new?

SmashTheState's avatar

I’m curious what makes folks so sure that I’m heterosexual.

Edit: The argument that “everyone can’t be heroes” is supremely offensive to me, and everything that I fight for, and everything that I stand for. The idea that only a special few can have the courage to stand up and fight, that we should celebrate these people as being from some higher plane that the average person can never aspire to — this is a sickness. It is the stuff of fascist ideology.

It is no coincidence, I think, that the majority, here as everywhere else, seems to find moral superiority in actions which allow people to exist quietly, without risk, without courage, without sacrifice.

I find nothing noble in cowardice and apathy. I don’t want to be a hero, I want everyone else to stop being cravens.

PS: Do you find it all alarming that you all agree with the token homophobe?

ETpro's avatar

I’d like to add that the true moral responsibility lies with each of us to respect the privacy of others’ sex lives. Those who make it their personal business to find out about others sexual orientation and give them grief, abuse, or worse about it are the true moral criminals here.

lillycoyote's avatar

@SmashTheState I admit that I am quite possibly being incredibly lazy here but some of these people write these Great Walls of text and I just can’t seem to manage them, so, would you mind, if it’s not too much trouble, telling who is the “token homophobe” and in what way I agreed with him or her? O.K. I’m sure it’s too too much to ask. I should read the goddam thread and I could figure it out. Never mind.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think it is entirely up to the individual whether they choose to come out about their sexuality or not. Your friend obviously has his own reasons for why he chooses not to and that is his right. He could be concerned about his family’s response or how it will affect him at work or a million things I can’t really imagine. There is still discrimination towards gay people and homophobia is alive and well and nobody should be compelled to deal with those things if they choose not to.

SmashTheState's avatar

@lillycoyote “No. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the moral responsibility in this case is to lock that closet up like a bank vault. I’m sure that this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you.” — Nullo

DominicX's avatar


No, we do not agree. Has anyone else here said that they think homosexuals are obligated to remain in the closet? Saying they are not obligated to come out is not the same as saying they are obligated to stay in.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy It’s BECAUSE that bigotry still exists that people have an obligation to come forward. I think it is selfish, hypocritical, and extremely cowardly to take advantage of the rights won by people who DID take risks and DID experience tremendous personal harm, and then wash one’s hands like Pontius Pilate and claim you bear them no responsibility. It’s like people who sneer at labour unions while they enjoy weekends, 8 hour days, job safety laws, child-free factories, and all the other things courageous unionists fought and died for.

Plucky's avatar

@SmashTheState Some people are born to be martyrs ..others are not.

downtide's avatar

“My feeling is that so long as people are still being beaten for holding hands with someone of the same sex when they walk down the street; so long as we have religious demagogues spreading hate and lies; so long as there’s political repression against homosexuality; so long as the majority of the population still sees nothing wrong with using the word “gay” as an epithet meaning “stupid” — then gay people have a moral and ethical responsibility to announce themselves and show all their friends and family and co-workers that there is a human face to the queer community, and that their hatred and prejudice directly harms people who are dear and close to them.”

No. So long as all these things happen, people have the right to protect themselves from harm, and if that protection entails staying within the closet then let them stay there. No-one should be forced to put themselves into physical danger to support a political goal, but that is exactly what you are proposing. Your idea would see far more people lose their jobs, get beaten up or murdered for their sexuality than happens already. Your argument that all gays MUST come out of the closet simply because other people did, and got murdered for it, is ridiculous.

Everyone has a choice That includes the choice to stay IN the closet, if they wish.

No-one has the right to take choice away from anyone else.

SmashTheState's avatar

“Still if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” — Winston Churchill

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Vunessuh's avatar

How obnoxious. First of all, aside from @Nullo, nobody is suggesting that homosexuals should be forced to remain in the closet. Homosexuals should have the freedom to come out to as little or as many people as they want to and if and when they choose to. They are on nobody’s time schedule other than their own.

To say that gay people are without courage and sacrifice because they aren’t ready to come out when YOU personally want them to is pretty ignorant and insensitive. I believe you contribute to the reason why some gay individuals have a difficult time being themselves and proceeding toward the coming out process in the first place. I don’t think you realize you’re contradicting what you’re apparently trying to stand for. Suggesting that the ONLY reason why anyone would be in the closet is because they are cowards (apparently heartless, irresponsible cowards if you think they are even remotely to blame for gay hate crimes) lingers you dangerously close to what most people would consider is the lowest common denominator.

I think you should learn to mind your own business and have more respect for why someone chooses to keep who they’re fucking, private.

lillycoyote's avatar

@SmashTheState, @Nullo has a right to say what he says and a right to believe what he believes but the idea that those of us who say that homosexuals don’t have a moral responsibility” or a moral obligation to “come out of the closet” is the same as someone saying they _should and have an obligation_to_ stay in the closet is just ridiculous. It’s not rational thinking. What the heck is wrong with you? When you first came on fluther you were, at least to me, a breath of fresh air, maybe a little too radical for some but I was happy to see you. Then you went away, on some kind of sabbatical, and returned, but you really don’t seem to be quite all there, honestly. What the heck happened to you? You’re smarter than all this, at least that was the impression I got at first.

flutherother's avatar

I think you should give your friend a break. He has a right to live his life the way he wants to and nobody has the right to tell him otherwise.

MacBean's avatar

If you’re cowering in the closet, then yours is one of the hands who tied Matthew Shepard to the fence and left him to die.

Seriously? Frankly, I think your friend should ditch you and stick to people who respect him and his right to a little privacy.

As for lumping people who say “people’s sexuality is their own business” in with douchnozzles who say “keep the dirty queers locked in their closets,” that’s just ignorant and offensive. And, once again, speaking frankly, your desire to force them out is closer to the idea of forcing them in than anything any of the people you’re accusing have said.

Edit: Also, if you really can’t figure out why people assume you’re heterosexual, it’s because you show absolutely no sign of having any understanding of what it’s like to be gay. If you are, one can only assume you’re young, white, male, at least the upper end of middle class, from a fairly tolerant area (e.g. NOT LARAMIE, WYOMING), and lucky enough to have supportive friends and/or family. Not all of us can come out of the closet without BECOMING Matthew Shepard. The gay movement already has martyrs. We don’t need to keep creating more.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, I can’t think of a better example of the old saying that “most questions are actually statements in disguise”

And, I may be alone in my impression here, but I just naturally assumed that you were NOT straight and the fact that your friend is not following in your self-exhalted footsteps and coming out as forcefully as you, is highly offensive to your sensibilities.

The statement that anyone who doesn’t come out of the closet bears responsibility for Matthew Shepherd’s death is hyperbole pure and simple.

Who died and appointed you as ruler of the universe to decide what gay or queer folks should do with their own lives ?

And just for curiosity, at what age would you choose to mandate this coming out ?

Most gay males have known from a surprisingly early age. Others at that age are merely aware that they are “different”.

But once puberty hits, there is little doubt for most, but many spend years trying to live in denial.

So at what age then? 13, 14, 15 perhaps. Should every gay youth be willing to risk being homeless after being disowned by homophobic parents ?

Should they just kiss the possibility of higher education and their dream profession goodbye since their parents will no longer support them either financially or emotionally ?

Oh high and mighty one, please decide upon the mandatory age. ~~

mattbrowne's avatar

Of course not.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Had to ponder a bit to consider exactly how to address this question.
Then it hit me.

There’s a saying that goes:

“Be wary of believing you know what’s “right” for somebody else…
…somebody else may begin believing they know what’s “right” for YOU.”

josie's avatar

Why not mind your own business?

Mikewlf337's avatar

They don’t have to tell anyone shit if they don’t want to. Mind your own business. Who they are fucking has no effect on your life. Why should one care what another does in the bedroom?

marinelife's avatar

Why are you so obsessed with your friend’s sexuality? He has no responsibility to talk about it at all.

You have a nerve repeatedly asking him about it. I am surprised he still stays friends with you.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SABOTEUR : Absolutely right on your quote.

This smacks of the whole “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” thing. In a black and white world where that would apply, yeah, fine. The world I live in is not that one. I think your idea of removing choice from the anyone’s life is morally irresponsible and oppressive.

Corey_D's avatar

He should do what is right for him. And only he can decide what that is. No one has a moral responsibility to give up their own judgment of what is right for them for some cause, no matter how good and important that cause may be.

incendiary_dan's avatar

The oppressed group never has the personal obligation to risk more oppression. It might be smart tactically, but that’s for the queer community to decide, and queer individuals themselves based on their circumstances.

If anyone has a “moral responsibility”, it is the heterosexual allies of queer folk. We’re the ones that need to stand up and say that homophobia doesn’t fly.

lynfromnm's avatar

Absolutely not, there is no moral responsibility for a person to reveal his or her sexual orientation. A person is not responsible for the attitudes of others and cannot change the attitudes – or the sexual orientation – of anyone else.
I will add that it is NO ONE’s business what another person’s sexual orientation is, unless the individual chooses to share that information.

Seelix's avatar

What? No. That’s ridiculous.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Winston Churchill also said:“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

Hardly a shining figure of anti-oppression theory.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@incendiary_dan : I wish you hadn’t “whispered” that. It’s a very good point.

evil2's avatar

no ,imho its up to the individual what he lets the world know about him/her

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

Just leave him. Let him come out whenever he wants. Instead of forcing him to talk about it why don’t you offer to be there when he’s ready to talk about it. If you really want to help him, give him some space, let him know your someone he can talk to whenever he needs someone, and be patient! Maybe your intentions are good, but it seems like your forcing him to do something he just cant do right now. Some people have the ability to just come out and some don’t, some need time. Instead of putting him down or giving him a guilt trip you should just support him and listen. Maybe there’s a good reason why he hasn’t done it yet. Its his shoes not yours.

OpryLeigh's avatar

No I don’t think homosexuals have a moral responsibility to come out of the closet. @downtide and @MacBean said pretty much everything that I wanted to say and I think @SABOTEUR‘s quote really works in this situation.

Your friend may come out at some point but it should be his choice, not yours, when he does so. He may still be coming to terms with something that you have claimed to know for a long time and nobody should force him to do that in less time than he needs. It took my best friend quite a while to come out even though she knew and those closest to her knew for a very long time. The point was, she needed time to be comfortable in her own skin and sexuality before announcing it to the world. She knew she needed to prepare and make sure she was strong enough for certain reactions that many people get when they come out.

You make it sound like coming out is easy. It may be for some but for many it is an incredibly daunting experience.

As his friend it is your obligation and moral responsibility to accept his choice to “stay in the closet” if that’s what he wants for as long as he wants.

crisw's avatar

No one has a moral obligation to perform any act that will be harmful to him or herself. As you admit, coming out as gay, in some areas, can lead to a range of abuses ranging from taunting to murder.

It’s the behavior of the abusers that needs to stop. Blaming the abused is like telling the battered wife that it’s her fault because she didn’t stand up to her husband.

mammal's avatar

sometimes, but heterosexuals definitely have a moral responsibility to stop closeting.

6rant6's avatar

If you require your gay friend to make a public statement about his orientation then you are siding with homophobes – that your sexuality defines who you are and that nothing in your life could be as important as that.

Are you also going to require him to attend demonstrations promoting his race? To wear “Man power” t-shirts? To attend reunion picnics with people of the same national origin? To proselytize on behalf of whatever religion he subscribes to?

Seems to me this is your issue, not his.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Also @SmashTheState, if you were a queer person, then by your own requirements wouldn’t you have had to come out to us as part of the framing of this conversation? If this was an oversight on your part, I await your announcement.

JilltheTooth's avatar

This Q would seem to indicate that @SmashTheState is more nonsexual than either gay or straight.

sinscriven's avatar

Though I understand the spirit of the question, I have to disagree. Not every person is a leader, nor is everyone able to be able to set an example. Nobody should have to be forced to be a pariah or a martyr for any cause.

The conservative right would be very willing to put the weaker ones on a pike.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I don’t know what I can add to this thread that hasn’t been said quite well already except that telling the oppressed minority it’s their own fault that they’re still repressed is a classic case of blaming the victim.

I am a gay man who struggled and remained in the closet until I was 35 years old. I owe no one any explanation for why I was in the closet. I don’t owe that explanation even to my children nor my ex-wife.

I don’t have to tell anyone about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse I suffered. I’m damn lucky not to have to include sexual in that list, but it’s the only one. It’s not my fault that I was abused, which is precisely what the detail of this question assert. I did not bring it on myself, and I am angered by the notion that I am at fault.

How dare anyone tell me the hell I lived through is my fault. How dare you.

tinyfaery's avatar

The only reason that gay rights have come so far is because we have come out of the closet. It’s our presence that allows others to see that we are just like everyone else and deserve the same treatment and rights. Being out is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Those who choose to remain hidden, for whatever reason (death being the most horrific), are actually doing themselves a disservice; they are contributing to their own oppression.

However, choosing to stay hidden has nothing to do with morality. Honestly, I look down on most who won’t come out, but I would never say that it is their obligation to do so.

12Oaks's avatar

Nope. Their life. Their pesonal matters. Their choice. Their rules. None of nobody’s business.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@psychocandy : You wrote, “They are contributing to their own oppression.” Once again, this is blaming the victim.

The same sentiment was written in the OP: “I believe that if you are queer and you choose to hide, you bear a small part of the blame and responsibility every time someone who is brave enough to stand up is harmed.”

Is it my fault that I am denied employment rights in the majority of municipalities in the USA?

Is it my fault that I cannot marry?

Is it my fault that as a teenager, I was told I would be thrown out of the house if I came out of the closet?

Is it my fault that I was physically abused by straight men?

Is it my fault that I was subjected to a religion that raped my soul by telling me I was unlovable and irredeemable?

Is all this and more my fault?

No. It is not my responsibility to right all these wrongs. The amends lie with the perpetrators and not with me.

meiosis's avatar

The rigid collectivist mindset is a dangerous thing. It subsumes all individuality to the perceived good of the whole, regardless of the consequences for the individual. In addition, the idea that gay people are obligated to others, purely as a result of their sexuality, is a nonsense and is dangerously ghettoising.

cak's avatar

No one has any responsibility to divulge their sexual orientation unless they decide to do so.

Let’s see, it’s such an accepting society for homosexuals – or anyone that isn’t heterosexual I can see why they would keep their lifestyle quiet. I wish we didn’t live in that kind of world, but my rosy color glasses are off, today.

I can’t imagine having to live in that world where I never knew if someone was going to jump me just because I loved a woman. It’s craziness.

Let your friend live the way your friend wants to live.

cockswain's avatar

@SmashTheState I think you were trying to make a statement about solidarity in the gay community maybe? Like if everyone on the planet came out at once, their numbers would be so great it would be much more difficult to continue to trample their rights? Am I on the right track?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I don’t really understand the difference between requiring gays to live outside the closet, disclosing their sexuality to everyone, and requiring gays to live inside the closet, disclosing their sexuality to no one.

Dr_C's avatar

@SmashTheState, being homosexual and being a sex ofender are unrelated in my post. I believe I kept it in context when referring to the right of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, not to disclose personal any intimate information regarding sexual preference. I did however make the point (pre-emptively defending myself in case someone took it out of context) that I believe sex offenders should be excluded from enjoying the same right.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I agree absolutely. No one has the right to require either one, either choice, from homosexuals.

blueiiznh's avatar

@SmashTheState you really gave your own answer in all of it when I read it.
YOU may want for something, YOU may fight for something, YOU have your beliefs, You state YOU want everyone to do something….
This is all well and good in your mind.
Allow others to act on or not act on their own beliefs and their own needs.
How are you being a friend to this person or others like him?
Who are YOU to judge?

dalepetrie's avatar

@SmashTheState – Well, if I offended you by stating my opinion, I’m sorry you were offended, though I’m not sorry I said what I did, I indeed stand behind it. Yes, it would be “nice”, indeed it would be wonderful, possibly even utopian if no one ever took anything but the hardest route in order to serve the greater good, but that’s an idealistic stance, not a realistic one. Fact is, an argument could be made about every living person that they did not do what was “morally pure”.

For example, it is probably “morally irresponsible” to choose not to join the military in a time of war, but that, just like any other question of morality is also a question of personal morality…morality can not be judged objectively. What if you didn’t join the military because you felt it was your moral duty to become a doctor, or a police officer, or a teacher, and would not be able to do so if you were dead? And let’s say you wanted to do one of these things but instead did join the military, wouldn’t you be morally irresponsible for doing so? You can create a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario for anyone, but you should not judge them based on your own criteria.

To you, it may be morally reprehensible to hide one’s homosexuality, but realize that to some, it might be immoral to be homosexual…some believe that it is a sin, that it is a choice, and that it can be changed, and by not doing whatever you can to assimilate to heterocentric culture, you are being immoral. Or some might believe it’s NOT a matter of choice, but it is nonetheless morally irresponsible to act on being gay, that is, a philosophy of “if you’re gay, that’s who you are, but you can’t act on it.” To come out when one is gay could be a moral issue either way, depending on your point of view. The problem is that “morality” is a concept which is flawed, whether it be applied objectively or subjectively.

To apply morality subjectively is little more than an opinion or point of view. What makes one’s point of view any more valid than that of anyone else? Nothing. You may think it’s immoral if I eat a steak on a Friday during lent. You may think it’s immoral if I eat anything with a face. You may think it’s immoral if I step on an ant. Conversely, you might see nothing morally reprehensible about beastiality or incest. You may think it’s immoral to teach children that we were descended from apes, or you may conversely think it’s immoral to deprive children of a scientific education and to provide them with a parochial one instead.

The point with subjective morality is it can be debated…I have my opinions, and I can stand up for them and argue them…I can listen to opposing arguments to tweak my opinions, I can learn things that strengthen or destroy my moral position. Furthermore, situations can dictate one’s morality…this may not be “morally pure”, but it is very common. It could be the Catholic couple who lives together for a while before they get married. It could be the guy who was dead broke, unemployed for 3 years, house in foreclosure who adds an extra $100 to the charitable contribution line on his taxes so he doesn’t have to pay in $15 that he would otherwise owe the government. It could be the person who pretends the check is in the mail when the power company calls to buy an extra couple days until they get paid so they can afford electricity and food. It could be the person who kills another human in self defense. Lying, stealing, adultery and murder would all seem to be no-brainers when it comes to passing judgement on one’s morallity, but depending on the situation, it may be the most morally pure choice. And yet, one might feel that to kill another is so morally unacceptable that he would allow himself to die at the hands of another, rather than fight back…that might be his/her morality.

Consider a parallel in recent US history…Martin Luther King, Jr preached non-violence as a way to racial equality, and it was a long, hard struggle, met with great peril. Many died while turning the other cheek in this battle. Malcom X however believed in equality by any means necessary. This argument is the same thing…whereas MLK would have felt that to resort to violence as a means to wage war against the oppressors was immoral, Malcom X would have felt that to not fight back as aggressively as one was capable would be immoral.

The other way to judge morality then is objectively, and to judge anything objectively, you need a concrete template, a set of rules. These are usually defined by religion, however different religions define morality in different ways, though there are certainly some near universals. It seems that to attempt to establish a hard and fast rule as to what constitutes moral behavior in relation to the public status of one’s sexuality is no different than establishing a rule that all homosexuality is a sin. To attempt to work in absolutes so that one can be objective is essentially facism, meaning that one is attempting to subjugate the free will of another to one’s own agenda.

To judge a friend for not coming out based on either your opinion that to not do so is immoral, or based on a standard to which you believe the whole world should hold itself that to not do so is immoral is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. They are both attempts for one person to tell others how to think.

In other words, I am of the opinion that it is just as wrong of you to judge your friend’s failure to come out as morally irresponsible as it would be for anyone else to judge him for being gay as morally irresponsible. It is oppression of one’s free will based on another’s prejudices which are concretely applied without the subjectivity necessary to understand the underlying motivations. To dismiss any potential reasons one may have for making a deeply personal decision as “morally irresponsible” without even understanding what all the factors are which go into this decision is what is offensive to ME. So, we have both offended each other, I’ve explained why I believe it is not morally irresponbile to keep your private life private…you’ve explained why you believe it is an obligation to forego one’s own fears for the greater good. It is truly a noble aspiration, and it would be wonderful if such a standard could be practically applied, but it’s not realistic and it’s not fair to those who are harshly judged for following their own self-interests.

Furthermore, it is a disservice to everyone to dismiss rational fear as cowardice. In your opinion, anyone who gives into their fears is a coward. In my opinion, cowardice is about never confronting anyone in any way even when one’s core values are challenged. If it is your core value that all gays should come out so people would have no choice but to accept, that’s all well and good, but if it is your friend’s core value that one’s private life should remain private, then he can not live up to his moral standard and yours at the same time. One owes the first responsibility to one’s self…always, and it does not make a person a coward to make the decision with which he is most comfortable.

6rant6's avatar

@SmashTheState I’m curious. Did you think people would agree with you, or perhaps that the opinion would be more divided?

bob_'s avatar

I think we have a moral responsibility to not care what consenting adults do in bed.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
anders0002's avatar

I dont think its anyones business. its their personal sexual lives, why should we think they are obligated to tell anyone?

KennyTheWolf's avatar

I don’t think of it as a responsibility. More like, I just don’t want to hide that “fact” anymore.

cockswain's avatar

Looks like this thread drove @SmashTheState away again. Too bad, I like that guy’s perspective.

Berserker's avatar

I like the good intent behind your question, but it strikes me as way off when it comes to a certain point. That gays should have to come out the closet in order to defend and define themselves. By saying this, we’re only perpetrating further the stigma that plagues homosexuals and lesbians. It’s giving them even more reason to feel different and abnormal when they shouldn’t have to. This isn’t what most of them want to feel, I’ll wager.
I don’t feel they should be obliged to do anything more than anyone else. We don’t feel that way about heterosexuals, right? Let’s treat gays the same, and the ones hiding might feel comfortable to be as they are.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

No, homosexuals don’t have a moral responsibility to come out of the closet just because people are curious. It’s not really anybody’s business whether or not someone is homosexual, except for maybe someone who is in a relationship with him or her. It may also be helpful to know in certain medical situations.

Crashsequence2012's avatar


One’s sexuality is one’s personal business.

SmashTheState's avatar

I don’t know if anyone is still following this question (or if anyone who participated in this thread is still on Fluther), but I thought I’d give an update. The friend I mentioned in the question came out of the closet formally last year with a big fanfare… and no one reacted at all because people either didn’t care or had already known for years. He has now changed his mind entirely and says he believes gay people do have a responsibility to come out, and that if more people had done so he might have had the courage to do it sooner himself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m still following and still here. I’m quite surprised at both those.

Thanks for the update, and I’m glad it’s working out.

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