My Closeted Lover

Artwork by Harmeet Rahal

It has been ten years since I came out of the closet. My process of coming out began with me, then my family and friends, and at last the society. My experience of coming out was not too bad? I was able to pass the difficult time. But this is the thing about the process of coming out, it is different for all of us. There are many reasons why some people choose to be in the closet? Some might feel safer in the closet than coming out of it. I respect their decision.

There’s another aspect of coming out? It does not only happen once and many times you are part of the process of your partner coming out. That is precisely what happened with my partner who hasn’t come out yet. Loving someone who is in the closet taught me how to manage my feelings and changed the way our everyday lives unfolded. I realised that being with someone who is in the closet means respecting them and their privacy, and being supportive.

My lover never had a relationship with a woman before. I am her first. She defined herself as a heterosexual woman until she met me. My first concern, when we began dating, was about expressing love in public. When we held hands, she used to jerk her hands away on seeing our friends. I didn’t feel well, but I understood the situation. We’ve always had to be careful about what to express in public. The only place I can hug her properly is in my room. And that is our closet.

When it comes to staying with her family, it gets more difficult to pretend we are friends. But the most difficult part is not just pretending to be friends but my feeling for her that I have to hide, and my respect for her family which makes me feel guilty when I stay with them. I feel guilty that we are lying to them because they are nice to me, they think I am her closest friend. Sometimes I fear what will happen if her family knows about us. What if someone has a doubt about our relationship? What if they know the truth and force her to get married because of me? I feel like I’m committing a crime all the time.

Another concern is about her privacy online. There are many times that I post photos, statuses and stories on social media about my life. Because we spend time together, sometimes I forget that I cannot (or should not) post anything that is related to our relationship. I have to ask her if I can post her photo with me or not. If I write some personal story that is related to her, I have to edit parts and not mention her name. It becomes my concern before I post anything on social media that I do not out her. I have never had to deal with something like this before since I came out.

The important part is about supporting her feelings. Because we can’t tell people about our relationship, she sometimes is hurt and blames herself for putting me in the closet again. She used to apologize for keeping our relationship secret. I had to tell her that it is ok to not come out, and that I will be with her even if she doesn’t want to come out. I will be careful to not “Out” her either in the online or the real world.

There have been many times that some men had a crush on her or wanted to talk to her because they wanted to date her. That situation is very challenging for me because those men do not know about our relationship. They always think we are just friends. They usually come to talk to her and I feel upset because I cannot tell them that she is my lover. Sometimes I ask them to leave us alone but sometimes I let my lover deal with them. This situation has taught me to respect her decision to deal with those men. I do not like men who claim a woman to be their property that no one can take away from them.

I don’t know if this management is healthy for us. But under the present circumstances, I don’t think we have another choice. I can’t put my lover at any risk for my comfort in this relationship. Maybe this relationship might be a secret forever. I might not be able to hold my lover’s hand in the public space or I might not be able to write about her beautiful eyes or tell other people how much I love her. But at least we are together in the closet and I hope one day if she is ready, we might come out and tell everyone about our love. I just want to tell her that it is not her fault to have not come out. We are still living in a world that cannot accept this kind of love. We have to be safe before we are sure that it is time to come out. Now the world is not ready for us.

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