Gays cannot simply hide sexuality

By Article Tools

The arguments in Mr. Cruse’s opinion piece, “Gay is not the new black: There is a difference” are a reaction to the “common saying” that “Being gay now is like being black in the past.”

I first would like to state for the record that I do not endorse the use of this saying.

Our struggles are unique, although they do have parallels with a number of other civil rights movements.

My issue with Mr. Cruse’s article is his blanket statement that a gay person is able to hide the fact that s/he is gay. As an illustration, Mr. Cruse states that a gay person can avoid being discriminated against in the workplace by remaining silent, whereas a person of color cannot.

I acknowledge that the color of one’s skin is directly observable, and that this fact has consequences in our society, whereas sexuality can, theoretically, remain hidden.

However, remaining unseen is not simply a matter of “not telling anyone.”

When we choose to hide the fact that we are gay from a single individual, we have to take care to hide ourselves from anyone who might tell that individual, and anyone who might tell that person as well.

Those of us who choose when and how to share our identities are constantly forced to make split-second decisions regarding the aspects of our selves that are safe to share in a particular context.

Although the observable/unobservable dichotomy used by Mr. Cruse appears sound on the surface, we have to look further to understand that, surely, the complexities of negotiating our “hidden” identities have an impact on our ability to perform to our full capacity, remain safe, and live fulfilling lives.

Stephanie Seiler

graduate student in Psychology