The (Re)View from Inside the Closet ~ Sunday Spotlight by Leisa

PBA_Sunday_Spotlight

The (Re)View from Inside the Closet:

Into the Closet

Like many reviewers and authors, I use a pseudonym instead of my real name. Why? Well … it’s complicated – Isn’t it always?

My love of gay romance and fiction is well known to my immediate little family. My husband shrugs and thinks it’s mildly amusing that his wife in her late 40’s spends her free time reading steamy gay books, and likes to look at pictures of lovely (sometimes naked!) gay men. My college age daughter giggles with delight, and my teenage son just shakes his head bemusedly.

Then why the clandestine identity? To be honest … it’s easier. When I first began blogging, I didn’t use a pseudonym. I wasn’t ashamed of my love of gay romance and fiction, or of my reviewing, so I saw no reason to hide behind another identity. Now … I must tell you that there aren’t many people who are more socially liberal than me. I figure whatever two (or more!) consenting adults do together isn’t anyone else’s business. I married a like-minded sweetie, and unsurprisingly, our progeny are two liberals as well. My blogging life proceeded along just fine for quite a while … I lost a few social media friends along the way, but I figured if they didn’t like my pictures of beautiful men and my links to Prism’s fantastic website and reviews, it was their loss.

Then my niece entered the picture. My adult niece. My adult, married, mother of a cute as a button two year old little girl, elementary school first grade teacher, basically sweet, looks like an Ivory snow girl, but super-duper conservative and deeply religious niece. She cried. Real tears. She hit the family freak out button. She’s still traumatized by my fascination with Colby Keller and Dale Cooper (I don’t care what anyone says … their Cockyboys scene together is the hottest thing on this planet!). There isn’t brain bleach strong enough to cleanse her mind. Hanging around this nutty Bible-belt family, no wonder my gay cousin has largely remained securely in his closet for more than a half century.

Would I stand my ground and tell her (and a growing contingency of “concerned” family members) to grow up, get a life, and get their judgmental asses off their shoulders? Most people who know me in real life would not doubt that this would be my reaction. I was angry, hurt, and bewildered that my innocuous reading and blogging fun could cause such an uproar. I’ve always been the odd-ball in my family, and I’ve never been shy about sharing my political and social views … Why are they so shocked?!

But … in the end, I caved. I took the easy way out. It was just too emotionally draining and awful to fight the good fight. I removed all references to my reviews, the Prism website, m/m authors, gay porn, and the like from my personal social media. Out of sight largely meant out of mind, and I let the family swirl of horror settle down. I tip-toed into my own proverbial closet and quietly closed the door behind me.

I am not proud of my retreat. As a matter of fact, I’m rather ashamed of it. I sometimes feel like I not only betrayed my own beliefs, but that I let down every single gay person who struggles with whether to come out of their REAL closet. I recently read a book about a deeply closeted man who falls in love with a man who is out and proud. In my review I used the term “authentic” when describing the life the closeted man lived once he joined his lover as an out gay man. When I re-read my own review (I do this from time to time just to make sure what I write doesn’t sound moronic …), I felt hypocritical.

But my admittedly very tiny experience with family upset and shunning has taught me a few things … I so admire every single gay person who is proudly out but has been hurt by others simply because of who they love. I also respect those who choose to stay inside their closet. No one should be judged harshly for choosing to not share their sexuality openly, simply because their sexuality is their own to keep private or share.

In the closet or out, I am humbled by your courage.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews.  The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.

6 thoughts on “The (Re)View from Inside the Closet ~ Sunday Spotlight by Leisa

  1. I’m definitely “in the closet” regarding my M/M habit. I really wish I had just one friend IRL to share with. My sister absolutely didn’t “get it”, so I just let it go.

  2. I used to think I was in the closet, but realize I use my real name and post to my public facebook account so all my family and friends that connect with me that way have to know my stance and activities. Outside of the internet, I definitely think twice before I wear my Dreamspinner t-shirt in public and I don’t discuss my reading and blogging habits, but then, I don’t discuss my sex life either, so is it being in the “closet” or being private?

    I do respect those who have to make a choice, whether to keep the peace and keep their families, or live out loud and proud, and make the choice of the former. It is hard to live without supports.

    I appreciate your post Leisa!

  3. I’m pretty much out of the closet as far as my reading is concerned. Quite a few of my family, colleagues and friends are bemused by my preferences and on occasion tease me about it but it hasn’t been an issue so far. And, to be perfectly honest, if it does become an issue that’s their loss not mine. Then again I’m fortunate enough to live in Europe where even if people had an issue with it they can’t lawfully act against me so I’m talking from a point of relative comfort. I do not judge people who can’t or won’t come out. It’s an individual choice everybody has to make for themselves and for their own reasons. It infuriates me that Facebook’s recent enforcement of the ‘only under your legal name’ rule is going to make it hard if not impossible for people to both stay there and keep their anonymity in tact.

    Thanks for a well worded and well balanced post.

  4. Thank you for this honest post. I have a very similar situation. It’s not my work colleagues or my friends I censor myself from. It’s family members. They know I’m writing and what I write and they are supportive but not approving. There are children involved and it’s because of that, alone, that I respect their feelings and watch what I post on my real life account. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care. Personally, I know that the kids would be totally fine with it, but they aren’t my kids, so I respect the parents and use separate FB accounts. I totally understand the feelings of hypocrisy, but life isn’t black and white and never will be. Like you, I admire people who can be a completely “out and proud” ally, but that’s not always an option for all of us. So, until I can be, I push the boundaries a little at a time. Hopefully someday I can just break right on through. And when I start feeling bad about myself… like I’m not a “true” ally, I think about the minds I’ve managed to change and I know that even though I have to hide part of my online personna behind a pen name, in real life, I’ve made a difference.

  5. Thank you for the post. I too am in a similar situation. I would love to proudly shout my reading preferences, but instead I keep a separate account for it. Why? Because I have some really religious family members that just aren’t going to deal with it very well. And like you, I have an uncle that has been in the closet (mostly) all his life because of a number of his siblings. It drives me crazy, but it’s just easier. My parents wouldn’t care in the least, but it’s hard enough to maintain family connections when I live so far away from them all without adding tension that shouldn’t be there.

  6. Very good and thought provoking post Leisa. I’ve always used my real name and never considered not doing so until I saw what my American friends have to put up with. I am using a pen name for my writing but not because of the genre or content.

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