"Come out, come out wherever you are..." (From "The Wizard of Oz") ~ Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg
I have "special" needs -- some might call them obsessions -- but I prefer to call them standards. I like a clean home and orderly storage. But more than that, I want my junk where I can find it and I want it all to look like something -- a place for everything and everything in its place!
In an average afternoon, as part of a cleaning ritual, I'll iron sheets for the bedrooms, wipe down the kitchen, rearrange our living room, organize the bathrooms, tidy our basement and yes... even organize our closets.
By today's standards -- depending on your lifestyle, needs, and desired outcome -- uniquely crafted closets offer a meaningful use of space in any home or apartment. Considering all of the options, the perfect closet can be a swell place to hoard your handbags, stash sport-coats, stockpile shoes and allow lingerie to linger. It's also a place to relegate last season's dresses, abandon busted umbrellas, forget those fake-fun-furs, put presents meant for re-gifting, and bury baggage otherwise used to travel to far away, sandy and sunny ports.
Although we think of closets as places to squirrel away stuff and hang our clothes, historically for the very rich, they were actually small secret, private, concealed rooms usually attached to a bedroom.
But nowadays, to be kept hidden or "closeted" is most often used as a way of describing something or someone whose behavior might be embarrassing, controversial...or even gay.
National Coming Out Day was founded 1988 by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary, in celebration of the second Gay March on Washington, D.C. the previous year. The purposes of both were to promote awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender rights and to rejoice in it all. For 20 years, October 11 has been a day to publicly celebrate being who you are, and is often used as an opportunity to tell others as well.
Coming out, while different for every individual, is a critical part of accepting that you're gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender. (Imagine if heterosexual folks had to have a tear- and angst-filled moment when they made the brave decision to declare their sexual orientation or gender identity and risk being rejected, fired, beaten, thrown out of their home, etc.?) For some LGBT people, the experience is joyful; for some it's uncomfortable; for some it instills anger in those they come out to; for some it's a tragic time of rejection and depression. But for many, once proclaimed, it's a time of freedom, relief, and often a moment of "Gee, we were waiting for you to tell us!" when coming out to supportive family, co-workers and friends.
When I came out to my dear friend, Robert, we celebrated over steaks and Martini's at a tony steak house in Manhatttan. When I came out to even more friends when visiting from my hometown of Chicago -- in celebration at my East Village apartment -- we all ate cake, drank Champagne and jumped on the beds. When I came out to my sister Mags, she said "Honey, you've done a lousy job of hiding it. I've known that for years!"
But when I was only fourteen my mom came out for me. While folding cloths together she said that she thought I might just be kinda' different from her other two kids (Maybe it was my ability to crochet that tipped her off?) and that if I had special questions she said she'd always be there to answer them for me.
Now that I am no longer in the closet, there's plenty of room for other things in there! I'm always putting away belongings and endlessly tidying up by stuffing clothes, brooms, bed and bath linens, winter coats, hats and who-knows-what into closets. Unfortunately, depending on the humidity, they can sometimes smell musty. That's when I get out the baking soda to freshen them up. I just tear off the top of a fresh box, put it on the floor or a shelf in the closet, and let it do its thing. After a month or so, I replace the old baking soda with a fresh box and use the old stuff for some other cleaning projects -- it never goes to waste!
Here at home (and hopefully yours, too) our closets are meant for our baggage and belongings and not the people we love. If you're either "in," "out" or somewhere in between, it's important to live life gloriously, in full view, sharing your joys and life-experiences openly...even if you're not gay but just a closeted cleaning freak.
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