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What does closeted mean?

Robyn Exton

May 21, 2020

What does closeted mean?
  • The closeted definition refers to any queer person who doesn’t publicly announce their sexual orientation or gender identity to the world, therefore they’re in the closet. And no, not the kind of walk-in closet that would instantly have any high femme in heaven. 

    Unfortunately, the closet exists because society deems straight folk to be the “norm.” While we don’t think we should have to make a grand announcement that we’re queer, it can feel like we’re putting on a mask every day if we don’t. 

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    Why Would Somebody Choose to Remain Closeted?

    The closet is not somewhere many queer people want to be. However, there are a million different reasons why somebody would choose to remain closeted. Sometimes a person simply doesn’t feel the need to make a big deal of their sexuality (and let’s be real, it’s the 21st century, so why should they have to?).

    Others hide their true orientation or identity for personal, professional, or religious reasons. A trans man or woman might choose to be in the closet because of their fear of rejection from family or society. A bi woman may stay closeted by hiding her bisexuality among queer friends and referring to herself as a lesbian so she doesn’t get labeled as “bicurious.” But it’s a full-time job, pretending to be somebody else all of the time just so you don’t blow your “cover.” 

    “Out of the Closet” Definition

    If you choose to be open about your sexual orientation or gender identity, you’re considered out of the closet. Some people choose to reveal their true identity to everybody, while other individuals choose to come out to only a select few. And some people are forced out of the closet, aka “outed.”

    When we think of famous celesbians who’ve decided to come out of the closet and publicly live their truths, there are a few that instantly come to mind. Ruby Rose, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Portia De Rossi, Megan Rapinoe, Hayley Kiyoko and Katherine Moennig are at the top of our list (probably because we’re majorly crushing on them). And let’s not forget about “baby dyke” and singer-songwriter, Kehlani, who recently came out on Tik Tok. It doesn’t get more Gen-Z than that!

    Famous Coming Outs

    There are a million ways to come out of the closet. One of the most notable moments among celebs was when actress Raven Symone quietly came out by tweeting about the legalization of gay marriage in 2013.

    You may also have to come out multiple times. Actor Elliot Page came out of the closet during an emotional speech during a Human Rights Campaign in 2014. Then, more recently, he came out again announcing his name and trans identity. 

    Just remember there is no “right way” to come out. But when you decide to, it’s time to kick that closet door down and own your identity! 

    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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