I’m watching him. He’s still; motionless. Numb to the world, almost. And somehow this is the real him, the true self, to me. Asleep, he becomes the empty shell with which to fill my memories of a friend. The boy I’ve known all this time, just as I’d expect.
The events of the evening become fleeting errors of his character when I look up to see him lying there, breathing softly under the blankets. It scarcely seems possible that someone you know so well could come adrift from their identity; driven solely on impulse and fear and fail to even recognise the sound of your voice, begging. As you fight with them for their own benefit, try to stop them unbecoming themselves, they resist you. A different they, someone else. Or the same self that has become Other. It is the same body, the same hands, the same eyes that I’ve long known but the movements, the frustrations are alien.
In the morning, when he becomes himself again, he will struggle to align with this new person he has become. But until then, he sleeps. And I watch. I watch in fear of him changing again, unable to do anything if he does. Every breath, every flinch is a flicker of instability within him.
For now, he sleeps. He remains himself; silently. The boy I know.
If you were asked to choose a single expression that most concisely epitomised the realisation of one’s queer identity, you would most likely arrive at the phrase, ‘coming out’. For many closeted individuals, these words represent a more daunting prospect than the emotional acceptance of their sexuality, reflecting a deeper thread of cultural specificity within them. Somehow surpassing a synonymy with homosexuality and reaching a state of gay tautology, ‘coming out’ has shaken loose all other contextual implications to the extent that to describe anything as such outwith the homosexual feels rather queer indeed.
However it’s only when you begin to tease apart such an idea that you begin to realise that the homosexual feels notably detached from the concept at its core. At the heart of it, the notion of coming out is focussed not on the formerly closeted friend, family member or acquaintance but their evacuation and the absence left behind. It speaks nothing of the environment the individual now finds his or her self in, accepting or otherwise, but instead fixates on the former state of entrapment, isolation and the capitulation of that identity. To ‘come out’ is not to accept your true self but to abandon your former state of identity, as if it had ever held any validity in the first place.