Last week, my sister-in-law, Sue, came out of the closet. To say her husband and children were shocked when she introduced them to her girlfriend is to make the understatement of the millennia.
Prior to last week, Sue’s hatred of the gay community in general and lesbianism, in particular, verged on obsessive. She was shockingly vocal in her views and wore the title ‘homophobic’ proudly. But it was so strange. Almost over-done. There was no apparent basis for her prejudice. No religious beliefs. No rhyme or reason whatever.
Over and over during their marriage, my brother, Ioan, scratched his head and said, ‘What’s the matter with ya, luv? What’s it to you what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms?’
Sue never had a good answer. But I did. In fact, Sue’s dramatic explosion out of the closet came as no surprise to me.
You see, ‘The lady protests too much, methinks’. That’s what gave her away. I suspected long ago that, at heart, Sue was a lesbian and her dramatics were simply evidence of her own internal torment. Sue wasn’t angry. She was deeply conflicted, jealous and felt trapped in her marriage, constrained by her genuine friendship with her husband and deep love for her children.
We all tend to make the same mistake when, as Sir Walter Scott’s poem says, ‘first we practice to deceive.’ We know when we’re lying, even if it’s for the best possible motives. Our words ring hollow in our own ears and we assume everyone else can sense our falsehood as easily as we do.
So we overplay our hand. Rant and rave. Carry on generally to try to convince ourselves that we sound truthful. All the time we don’t realize that through our histrionics we’re rather revealing our falsehood, not obfuscating it in the slightest.
Sue protested too much and, like most falsehoods, however well-meaning or altruistic, it blew up in her face. The damage to herself was so painful that finally, she called time on the fiction. Just as her ‘homophobia’ had been dramatic, so too was the truth. She didn’t ‘come’ out of the closet; she exploded out of it.
But perhaps the shock to her family wouldn’t have been so great if they hadn’t taken her at face value. You show me someone who methinks ‘protests too much’ and I’ll show you someone who has created fiction from a terrible internal struggle.
It will take time for Ioan and the children to come to terms with Sue’s new identity but both he and Sue are committed to co-parenting peacefully. They remain the friends they always were but lovers no more. I believe their relationship will be stronger and happier than ever before now that Sue has found her peace. No more anger, no more histrionics, no more ranting.
The truth will win out. It always does.