Life in the Cupboard

Feb 17, 2009

Posted by abandonedboyjon

Not too long ago, I came out to my mother. I think when we take on something like that, something that seems so enormously significant, it never really plays out exactly as we’d imagine. Maybe it’s just me, because I do lead an active fantasy life, always dreaming about what could or might happen, but when faced with reality, I’m never as articulate as I’d like to be. My voice becomes shaky and I forget everything I wanted to say. But then something even better happens; I’m forced to go off the cuff. I stop trying to be clever or charming in order to get what I want and to dictate the other person’s reaction. Instead, I just say the simple truth.

Truth is a heavy theme in Harry Potter. Several characters have hidden identities and most of Harry and his friends’ time is spent trying to discover the truth. In particular, I have always been struck by the similarity between Harry and Voldemort in their relationship with the truth. Both take great offense to being lied to (we all remember Harry’s reaction to the news that Snape was the one to hear the prophecy and, of course, Voldemort’s demand of Dumbledore to “Tell the truth!”). There are many ways in which Harry and Voldemort came to value the truth so much, one of which is definitely their upbringings. Harry, quite literally, grew up in the closet. I have mentioned before how Harry’s story has been likened to a coming out story because of this. Hidden away like the Dursleys’ dirty little secret, and forced to lead a two dimensional life, one with no real history, Harry later developed a zero-tolerance policy about being lied to. Voldemort was tucked away in an orphanage, never knowing the truth about all those special things he could do that made him so different. They were both hidden in the Muggle world, waiting for someone to rescue them, when the Magical world came calling with answers and truths that bridged their first real connection to anything.

As we see truth after truth hidden or revealed during the series, it becomes clear that the weight of a lie is rather significant. Whether it be the cumbersome perpetuation of the invention of Harry’s time at St. Brutus’ (and Aunt Marge’s subsequent blowing up) or the slow unveiling of Dumbledore’s youthful secrets (followed by Harry’s first mistrusts in his former headmaster), it seems that lying is usually much more trouble then its worth. I have been left with such feelings repeatedly after finishing a Harry Potter book. It’s so easy to step back and see how many things, Harry giving himself up in the forest notwithstanding, would have been easier if someone had just told the truth. And yet, it is that one last great lie of Dumbledore’s that gives Harry the strength to walk willing to his death. It is more important that this lie was masked as a truth, the whole truth, and Harry, having been searching his whole life for this final answer, is emboldened by what he now thinks he knows. He sees it as Dumbledore’s last words to him, and the fact that they are “the truth” is enough.

So, if the truth is so important, why would anyone choose to live in the cupboard? defines the closet as “a state or condition of secrecy or carefully guarded privacy.” Carefully guarded. No wonder being in the closet has been linked to neurosis and suicide. Research also indicates that the only way for gay individuals to become well-adjusted is to come out. I can honestly say now from experience that the weight of the lie I lived, for me, tainted every part of my life and I really do feel like I’m on the road to accepting myself and my lifestyle. At work, I come out every single day to new customers and though it can be tedious, there is something reaffirming about being in the practice of that. I still have one foot in the cupboard though. There is still one significant person in my life I have yet to tell the whole truth to and as euphoric as I am over how far I’ve come these past couple of years, like Harry, I finally know what I have to do.


15 Responses to Life in the Cupboard

Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Jon, I love the way you help us understand life from your point of view. Thanks so much!Avatar ImageOxymoronic says: Jon, such a great post. You're brave, for choosing to be who you are, regardless of what others may or may not think. Here's hoping both your feet are out of the cupboard soon. :)Avatar ImageSlytherinPrincess007 says: wow this was really good. You could feel the emotion pouring from it. Hope everything works out. Have a great day Jon. Avatar Imagex_Potter_Lover_Forever_x says: Wow, such emotion you're so brave. Hope everything works out. xxAvatar ImageLillylove says: So beautifully and powerfully written, Jon. I so agree with what you say about truths and how they affect our lives. I find it ironic that even though we know how liberating the truth is, our human frailty I suppose or fear still keeps us from it at times. Thank you for your open heart & choosing to share your thoughts with your Potter friends :)Avatar ImageFresca says: Best wishes, Jon. I hope that telling the truth helps you to feel freer. it is not easy to come out, but I believe you are right when you say, "the Truth is enough." I hope those who hear you listen respectfully. FrescaAvatar ImageThe Silver Doe music says: Very interesting connections between Harry, Voldemort, and the truth. And kudos to you for living your life the way Harry would want you to.Avatar Imagepurplekim says: Not easy to live truthfully, i don't think....but easier than living a lie. Wishing you all the best with giving the cupboard door a good kick behind you. Maybe the next thing that you write could be about your meeting Jo experience?!Avatar ImageErinM says: It takes a lot of bravery, too. I hope that you can find peace, acceptance and love in every avenue of your life. Life is so short...too short to keep a foot in the closet. Being true to oneself is the greatest life lesson! Thanks for your words, Jon.Avatar Imageabandonedboyjon says: purplekim- actually, that IS a funny story (the words "backstreet boys" are involved). and I've wanted to share it but didn't know if that was right since the only thing it has to do with being queer is that I am! but perhaps, if people want to hear it, I could blog about that. :)Avatar Imagejalawood says: Such bravery. My mom would not react well at all to that sort of thing.Avatar Imagepenelope_clearwater973 says: well done, Jon! your journey can't have been easy, but don't give up! you're obviously brave, intelligent, and loyal to yourself. think how far you've come! you can definitely pull that last foot out of the cupboard!Avatar Imagethesnorkakishere says: good for you! I know it's not easy to come out to anyone, even your Mom, so kudos to you for having the courage to tell her! (although not gay myself, I have a friend who came out after months of agonizing indecision, and several intense conversations) and good for you to come out to customers! I don't think I'd be able to say something like that about myself to customers! although honestly as a customer that's the kind of thing I like to hear, it shows me you're a real person with real issues and all, instead of some cookiecutter office dude. Go ahead and tell the truth to that one last person! we are all here and we're all cheering for you! Yay!Avatar Imageelfinblaze says: I agree with this so very much. Coming out is a process that never really ends: you have to go through it over and over again with everyone you meet. It's not something you do once and you're done with it. Nice as that would be. I still see the Harry Potter series as a mystery series: each book has its own mystery, and they all build on each other so that the last book holds all the answers. From taking his first steps out of the cupboard, Harry enters the world and faces mystery after mystery, each one of which he faces, and gets to the truth of the matter, over and over again. It takes guts, but it's also rewarding.Avatar ImageGinevra86 says: I admire your honesty and bravery here. And you're absolutely right... truthfullness is the one thing I insist upon from everyone in my life. I can't tolerate dishonesty.

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