Coming out of the Closet
I’m not gay. Let me say that right now. If you were hoping to read a story about the turmoil, struggle, and acceptance that comes with openly admitting to being a homosexual, then I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is an essay about accepting yourself in a different way. I’m writing about the experience of admitting to your friends, to your family, to your father, to your girlfriend, and to whomever you may meet on the street that you are openly an artist.
For most of my life, I harbored the idea that artists were weird. I thought if ever I did see an artist on the bus or walking downtown I’d be able to identify him because he would be wearing a colorful burette, a silly trench coat, and an unscrupulous mustache. I was under the impression that artists have their noses up in the air and say things like, “the juxtaposition of complementary hues undertones the sense of serendipity the painter was feeling.” And I knew for sure that everyone didn’t like artists since everyone felt this exact same way about them.
But it’s just not true. Well, for the most part, anyways.
I remember the feelings before I admitted to the world that I had artistic tendencies. If a friend had a piano at their house and I felt the urge to strike some keys with my novice fingers, my cheeks would flush and I would feel as if the whole room was judging me on my poor playing. Karaoke nights were terrifying, for I was never just singing a pop song from the 80s; I was bearing my soul to whoever was listening. Creative essays in high school nauseated me as I waited for the teacher’s notes and remarks, wondering whether or not he noticed that I had done more than just the minimum requirements.
Yet in spite of my efforts, no one ever seemed to pay any mind. To them, I was just doodling on the piano. To them, I was just having fun with the karaoke machine. To them, it was just another essay to grade. There were no gasps, there were no dropped jaws, there we no bulging eyes; nobody ever seemed to care.
And this continued even when I made my first public, artistic statement: posting a song I had written onto a social networking site. After uploading the song to a music site, I copied the link into a new Facebook status. The blue button with the command “POST” lingered on the fringes of my link. “POST TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO BE AN ARTIST” it ought to have said, and as the mouse hovered over it, I thought to myself, “This is it. There will be no denying it after this. There will be no going back. Public admittance.”
So, I posted.
Then that was it. Nothing more.
To say the least, I was disappointed. Why didn’t anyone else feel the gravity of my actions? Why didn’t I receive applause, cheers, congratulations? Why did I feel ignored? And the realization came back to me, just like those times when I fooled around on the piano; nobody cared.
But the sentiment didn’t feel cold and discouraging anymore; rather, it felt alleviating. Nobody cared, and nobody cared because what was there to care about? Truthfully, the song wasn’t astounding. It was certainly no Fifth Symphony, and I can understand why the song only garnered some commiserative attention from my peers. But even if the song wasn’t great, shouldn’t have people recognized my transformation? Then I figured that nobody cared because, despite my worrying, nothing about me had changed. Whether or not I wrote music mattered to people as much as whether or not I played soccer.
At that moment, I discovered fire: I realized my artistic spirit. Through anything I did in the name of Art, I defined it; it did not define me. I was not my song; my song was me. The artistic spirit was and is that drive to create despite anything else. But it was and will always be just a part of me – a considerable part, but still only a part. Calling myself an artist didn’t need to be such a profound statement, and gradually I learned to accept that. My self-description developed slowly in gradations; at first, “I enjoy making music;” later, “I write songs;” eventually, “I’m a musician;” and then ultimately, “I’m an artist.”
I never adopted the fashion of obscure hats. I never grew a moustache (I can’t even if I tried). I never became an aficionado of pointillism. I never changed. I simply came out of the closet. When someone asks me,
“What are you?”
I answer, “I’m an artist.” There is no exalted dignity in the answer. I do not expect bells and whistles, for as soon as I say that I continue with, “I am also a college student who likes jokes about poop.”
You tell me that I’m the perfect man
And you give me your life, as much as you can.
But out with my cum comes out all of my love
And I’m left there wondering why
My heart that’s so black, spilled out all on your back,
Makes you think I’m a paradigm
For foolish love that breaks out hearts in two,
for foolish love?
Now, darling, I’ll be true.
But I change my mind every time you walk by.
sometimes i realize
ive been putting out fire with fire.
i need to make myself happy
but i just dont think i can
so sometimes i feel like
a man strumming the strings of a lyre
can beauty answer me?
or am i just plucking wires?