The world is a bloody small place. And the Universe gleefully keeps reminding me that the Six Degrees of Separation theory is not some half-assed idea someone came up with on an idle day. Like Alice in The L Word believes, there’s a good chance that just six people can form a link between you and pretty much anyone in the world. We’re all out to the ones close to us. But it’s just a matter of time before that small number doubles and then triples and then quadruples. This is one circle that will forever keep expanding. You might have the freedom to choose your friends. But the control you have over who gets to know that you’re queer will slowly and surely slip out of your grasp.
Obviously all this is a very scary proposition. Because it means that sooner or later, you’re going to be dragged out of your closet kicking and screaming regardless of whether you wish to come out or not. Think what you will, but it’s going to happen. And here’s why:
1. Stalker’s Paradise: Facebook. A site tailor-made for stalkers, voyeurs and the curious ones. You can’t avoid it. Even if you don’t have an account. Like a friend said, You’re on it…you just don’t know it. Unless you have reflexes that can put a cat to shame and manage to dart out of every picture that someone takes, you will show up on Facebook. You will be out there. With a name that people can put to your face. The only advantage you will have is that you can’t be tagged. While this makes it a bit harder for people to find you, it won’t stop them from stumbling across you. If you have friends who’re on Facebook, be sure that you’re on it too.
2. Eat, Drink & Make Merry: We are social creatures. We seek companionship. We look for meaningless one-night stands. For queers, that means the colourful parties that offer the perfect setting for wooing and cruising. And where there’s a party, there’s a camera. Where there’s a camera, there are pictures. Pictures that get published, go on websites, wiggle their way into magazines, set themselves firmly in albums and just wait to be discovered. If you’ve been to a party, your picture’s probably out there. Yes, even that scandalous one you posed for when you were high as a kite.
3. Gay By Association: You’re known by the company you keep. Literally. Get seen with other queers often enough and it won’t be long before gaydars start beeping the next time you’re spotted. Believe me, it doesn’t take long to put two and two together and arrive at a rainbow with you at the end of it.
4. Freudian Slips: Your tongue and mind are not always within your control (I swear I meant that in one and only one way). The more you settle into your queer life, the more comfortable you get with talking about your partner. All it takes is one wrong pronoun in one short conversation and you’ve outed yourself. Also, the friends you’re out to are no different. As much as they watch what they’re saying, it’s easy to slip up and give things away.
5. Chinese Whispers: People talk. And when they get to know you’re queer, it’s a piece of gossip interesting enough to share. And share they will, regardless of whether you confirm or deny it. It’s only now that more and more people are open about their sexuality. And for the straight ones with no queer friends (as unlikely as that sounds), it’s still a novelty. For them, your sexuality becomes a reference point. From ‘That girl who can sing’ you become ‘That bisexual girl’. All other definitions and personality traits, unfortunately, become redundant.
What I’ve learnt the hard way is that, a secret won’t stay a secret for very long if more than one person is privy to it. The best way to deal with things is to learn how to tactfully tell the truth and yet not lie, alternate between stoic silence and dismissive laughter, look at the bigger picture and stay calm. It helps if you realize that, in the end you won’t be able to hide it anymore. Accept it. Because if life is a downhill slope, your sexuality is a rolling stone.