Living With the Door Open

By Tyler MunsonAugust 1, 2019

I’m attracted to men.

That single sentence has been a source of anxiety and depression for a large part of my life. I started to recognize those feelings when I was a freshman in college, but looking back, I can now see how that realization, even unconsciously, impacted me as a kid, too. As I grew older and understood what those feelings meant, I developed a sense of shame towards being gay. Why am I this way? Why can’t I be someone else? Why me?

Out of fear of being ridiculed or rejected, I decided that no one could ever find out, no one could know. I would deal with it. I would hide it. I would keep it inside.

There’s a common saying when it comes to expressing or sharing your sexuality: “coming out of the closet.” And well, instead of “coming out,” I planned to hide in my closet. Nothing in, nothing out. It would remain untouched, cultivating deprecating feelings and shame.

We all have a closet in some capacity. A place where we can hide things that make us feel weak, susceptible to criticism, and worthless. Some may hide abuse, addiction, depression, self-harm, and so much else. And although these feelings are difficult to endure, hiding them in your closet is comfortable, because opening it requires a lot of effort and vulnerability. It exposes us to judgment, criticism, and disapproval. It gives others the ability to see the things we’ve often been told to keep to ourselves. And that is a scary thing.

But the more I denied this part of me, the more my closet piled up and threatened to burst open. This “pile-up” took the shape of an intensely isolating anxiety and depression, that overshadowed even the good parts of who I am. I felt alone in my closet. I felt like no one would understand. But what I failed to see beyond the shame and fear, was all the people waiting right outside the door, waiting with open arms and acceptance and support. Because there are people waiting for you. There are people to support you. There are people to accept you. There are people to love you. But first, you have to open the door to see what’s on the other side.

It was two months ago that I decided to open my door, in the company of good friends. I no longer wanted to hide, I wanted people to see me. All of me. It’s been a slow and continuous and difficult process, one that requires consistent vulnerability, but the happiness and relief that I’ve experienced in doing so have given me so much hope.

Coming out is not about simply putting a label on yourself. Coming out is about acceptance. It’s about self-love. It’s about letting others in. It’s about letting others see the beautiful parts that make up who you are. A friend of mine once wrote, “Coming out is not a single declaration, it’s a staircase of steps leading to who you are becoming.” We are constantly becoming. We are constantly learning. We are constantly discovering who we are. Sexuality is a beautiful thing, but it is not everything. Our closets are not filled with just one or two things. Yes, this is a part of who I am. I can be proud of it. I can express it. I can do whatever I want with it. But it is not all that I am.

I write this to remind you that you are and should be in control of coming out of whatever closet you find yourself in. You control who you invite to see what’s inside. You control how much you show and share and release. This is your closet. This is your life. This is your journey. I don’t know if there’s a “right way” to come out, but I do know that when you do, you will no longer be weighed down by the things once trapped inside. And when that door swings open, the effort and energy you used to keep it closed can be dedicated to living a life that is free of the secrets that are holding you back from being who you truly are. Ultimately, coming out is about living an authentic and honest life. You can find acceptance, love, support, and hope. No more hiding. No more shame. No more fear. Just living with the door open.

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Comments (4)

  1. Vickie Munson

    As I read your story, it brought me back to my own story. Your last paragraph is going to have a lot of people cleaning out our closets and living with the door open. Many. Like myself, will have it pulled out with the help of doctors and therapists.
    I was abused by my father between the ages of 8 – 10. I buried that in a secret box deep within my closet. Years went by. Then our kids were all moving on in their own journey and we lost everything we had. I suddenly felt insecure and worthless. I couldn’t understand all that was happening to me. Finally the horrible truth crept up on me. At the age of 60, with my father being dead for 30 years and my Mom gone for 3 years, there is no one to confront. I’m dealing with it. The memories are fuzzy but I’m still not ready to open that box in the closet. I know what’s in it but I’m leaving it there because I don’t want to put that little girl (me) through it all again.
    Thank you Tyler, for giving me the bravery to share my closet and helping me open my door. I respect your decision and wish you a beautiful life.
    Love you, Vickie

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable and honest part of your story here. We’re truly glad that Tyler’s story could help you in some way, too. Please know that when you are ready, there will be people to help you through this. You are not alone.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  2. Jovane

    you are a great man dude, you are truly awesome . Always be good dong mahal kita 🙂

    Reply  |  
  3. Rylee Huskinson

    My only words for this article are just that this is absolutely beautiful and absolutely I love it.

    Reply  |  
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