I don’t remember exactly when I heard or read the expression, “The mirror has two faces.” I understand it to mean that it’s the image that we first project to others and then there’s the self who we truly are to our core –our inner selves. A novel concept that speaks to describe who we are on the surface and the masked man who’s secret identity we are trying to protect. I still read comics and into the super hero themed stories. Caught up into the action, storylines, and finding some wish fulfillment through its pages. The protagonist was our lovable hero. Flawed in some way, however, still fighting the good fight because of dutiful responsibility. His character stood on principles, morality, and he’s driven by a sense of his own reasoning and what is right. This is something most of us can relate to for sure. Imagine having the ability to look at a friendly honest face and being able to know their most inner darkest indiscretion.
Everyone has something that is held privately whether it’s a painful secret, an embarrassing fetish, an unlawful past, or a dangerous indulgence or vice. Most of us live in a veiled existence. Projecting an acceptable and comfortable image to our peers and others. Think how vulnerable and exposed would one feel if that sensitive information ever was leaked out? I understand that some people’s decision in coming out is meant to be an “empowering experience”. Usurping authority to extinguish that fuse. Detonating that bomb in the nick of time by a villainous, ill-intentioned individual. I respect anyone’s decision to be out and proud as clichéd as that sounds. It is brave to be out when there’s a segment in our society that still has a problem with being gay. Seemingly oxymoronic due to how progressive we have come. The new normal of our society is same sex relationships, same sex parenting, and the impact of social media, reality shows/docu-series, and the evolution of technology. These elements, some of which, are beyond our control and some believe that it can be controlled is an exercise of freedom. Freedom comes choice. I exercise my choice not to disclose my sexual preference vocationally and socially.
I have always been a very self-contained type of guy. Not too extroverted, silent but stoic. As I matured, gaining some life experience under my belt, I later discovered in my late 20’s about my proclivity to other men. I do subscribe to a particular type for I am a man’s man myself. I am not so closeted that I am socially mute on what’s going on. My evolution has led me to become the man that I am. I support the LGTB community financially through retail (DVD, music) and through charities (AID Atlanta, AESM, Human Rights Campaign). I make it a point to not disclose everything about me that makes me…ME.
I’m conscience who I am as a man and own my responsibilities to be a productive citizen/ and giving being. It’s my decision to remain discreet at work for my professional life is certainly separated just like my personal and family life. I find it not my responsibility to be the “Poster Child” on being out & gay/bisexual. I have a strike against me for being a man of color trying to compete in an environment where often times I am the only representative I see. Why should I wear another scarlet letter? Why must I shoulder that kind of obligation and be the token in the office. How revolutionary?!?
Please don’t get me wrong. There is no shame or “self-hate”. I am a proud Latino-American man. I’ve two degrees and worked in corporate America for 10+ since college. I have done a lot of amazing things in life (so far). I met a few interesting people along my journey. While working in corporate, I’ve witnessed racism, misogynistic comments made against female counterparts, as well as the non-politically correct homophobic remarks against the open or the assumed to be gay employees- all said in “jest”. I mask myself and all comments for that statement wasn’t made in an open forum. It was said in a circle of trust. You saw, only if for a second, someone’s true nature. That ugly, cysted-face of bigotry, racism and sexism. Their mask has slipped.
Is there safety being quiet? Perhaps so, however, I choose to stay in my lane. I go to work only to complete a task orientated with my job. I choose not to socialize, play ball, or fraternize outside of work with my coworkers. I’ve earned the respect of my team and peers over time due to my skill and work ethic. As a result, this helps create a reputation. Reputation builds prestige, trust, honor, and most importantly a good name. Often times, a good name is enough to carry you through to the next level or promotion and earn favor. Reputation can quickly tarnish with even a rumor or allegation. I don’t have PR to become my personal spin doctors. Silence is golden and keeps you out of trouble I find.
This, in part, is what makes me the exception all around. Ironically, there’s almost a double standard. Most can agree that people can accept a lesbian whether it’s in a hetero-environment or being out at work without much judgment compared to either a masculine or effeminate gay male. Females are less threatening socially and still objectified as a fairer sex. One of the straight man’s fantasy is being in a threesome with two women. Think if it was flipped.
All in all, I am a social anomaly. I’m not too comfortable in going to a gay club and in a predominately hetero-environment, I hate the crowds. I stay pretty much stationary in one particular spot and people watch. I’m told with a scowl on my face. I will continue to live in my selective truth of what is “right” and comfortable in my ordinary life. I will still be that masked man preserving my anonymity. Police line, DO NOT CROSS. Work, personal, and family life will still remain separated. In the end after all, there’s really no disguise. When I look at myself in the mirror, it’s just my being authentically ME. I have accepted being just that and I’m good.
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