What better way to spend a beautiful Sunday than locking myself in a closet for 12 hours? That was the idea that ran through my mind when I woke up yesterday. I had no other plans, no other pressing concerns to attend to and it being National Coming Out day I felt some masochism was in order.
The other side of it was I wanted to figure out how the hell this metaphor came about. In terms of cultural stereotypes I don't really see a closet as a very gay piece of furniture. Unless it's a closet where they keep their porn stash and go to furiously masturbate after their wife's gone to bed, sitting in a closet seems like a funny way to think of people hiding their sexuality.
Still, while "Swinging on the chandelier" or "dancing on the bar" are failing to catch on, I thought it pertinent to ask why. So at 10am I climbed inside my bedroom closet with two bottles of water and a big bag of doritos, and locked the door.
10:00 Right this cupboard is stupidly small. I don't think I can sit down. How long can I stand for? I feel like Matilda in the chokey.
10:17 OK I've managed to arrange myself cross-legged while making a lot of noise and kneeing myself in the face.
10:34 This is so uncomfortable. I wish I'd brought a cushion. I wonder if I shout they'll bring me one. Or does that defeat the point?
10:40 OK I'm shouting.
10:44 I don't think anyone can hear me.
10:50 Thank fuck, someone's come. I didn't know what to shout so I resorted to "Help! Help!" which I feel a bit bad about now.
11:00 Now I have a massive leather sofa cushion to sit on. It literally takes up as much space as me.
11:01 It took them like 5 minutes to unlock the door and like 10 minutes to lock it again. The world outside has never looked so good.
11:53 I'm going to try and sleep
12:20 Not sure if I slept just now or massively hallucinated. How long has it been? It's so hot in here.
12:21 Ok it's been like 20 minutes. I think I must have gone into a trance. I thought I was in the womb.
12:30 OK it's lunchtime, I'm going to eat some crisps. I wonder what this sounds like from the outside - the crunching is deafening in here.
13:14 I need to ration my water, I've already finished one bottle.
14:07 I'm going to check the door's locked properly.
14:08 It is.
15:55 My thoughts are so active but random. It's like a crazy stream-of-consciousness poem which you forget as soon as you think.
16:01 I've been in here six hours now. Six hours left. I'm going to try and meditate.
16:45 Ok I have hardly any water left. I'm going to try and sleep again. I am sweating so much.
17:33 The darkness is suffocating. I don't know if I'm robust enough for this.
17:40 Maybe I should have spoken to a doctor before? How does that conversation go - "I'm going to be locked in a closet for 12 hours, I just wanted to get your opinion on that"
18:18 Is Oxygen running out something I should be concerned about?
18:34 I read somewhere that making lists is a way of symbolically exercising control over your life. What do I need to get from the shops?
18:42 Now I'm going to order my friends from best to worst.
18:57 Maybe I should go as Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Halloween - although I was looking forward to wearing loads of fake blood. Maybe I could go as an undead Buffy.
19:07 OK I really need the toilet.
19:14 Coming out of this closet is going to be so liberating.
19:33 OK I just wee'd in a bottle. Shall I drink it? I am very dehydrated.
19:38 The wee bottle has a hole in it. Are you fucking kidding me. How did it get a hole?
19:39 OK I'm going to have to pour it into the other bottle. This is so much more disgusting than it needed to be. God do you think anyone can smell it?
19:44 I need to get out of here. What the fuck was I thinking.
20:08 I can't feel my legs.
20:44 Someone's coming.
20:49 They've gone.
21:07 OK it's past 9 I'm going to start shouting.
21:15 Thank god, they're coming back
21:34 OK I'm out the closet but I think everyone knew what was in the water bottle. I went straight to the bathroom and poured it down the toilet without saying anything but you can still definitely smell it in my room.
Ok that that was literally one of the worst things I've ever done. I wouldn't describe it as hard, more just terrible and traumatising. As someone who has now come out of the closet both literally and figuratively I can only assume whoever came up with that metaphor was speaking from experience. I can't think of anything I've ever done as horrible as being inside that closet and I don't think I have ever felt more relieved than coming out of it.
One thing is though, there was nothing difficult about the actual decision to come out. I wasn't at all worried about what would happen once I was out. In fact I wasn't thinking about anything apart from getting out of there.
Maybe if I'd never been outside the closet before I might have been a bit more trepid about what lay on the other side. I can imagine I might have got a bit Stockholm Syndrome about the piece of furniture holding me captive and not wanted to leave if I knew I could never come back. If that was the case though, I reckon whoever came up with the metaphor must have had a slightly larger closet than mine and presumably also a urinal in it.
I guess either that or the closet was in the middle of Oxford Street and you didn't have any clothes on or something. Or the closet was in your friend's room and you hid in it as a practical joke but then they came home and started having sex on the bed. That would probably make coming out the closet a bit harder.
Anyway my activism doesn't stretch that far. 12 hours is long enough to make my point - and I'm pretty sure I made it, whatever it was.