Monday, November 23, 2009

Staying in the closet

Note: With the holidays approaching, many of my current projects will not appear on the pages of the blog until after they're delivered to their intended recipients. If you're looking for finished objects, check back after the holidays. In the interim, I'll continue to blog about knitting and life in general.

When I was in high school, I had a friend named Chad. He and I were in a number of school theater productions together. In my senior year of high school we managed to go to state drama festival with a production of Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music - a fantastic one-act show about (among other things) a former nun with Tourette Syndrome. The climax of that show involved my character pitching Chad's character over the railing on the roof of a bar down to the street below.

Chad was a nice guy. He was also different somehow. In many ways he was more like my female friends than my male friends. He wasn't at all into sports, openly wished he could be on the marching band flag corps, and was generally pretty effeminate.

A few years later, the future Mrs. TSMK ("FMTSMK") and I ran into Chad on our mutual college campus. We hadn't seen each other in quite a while, and we asked Chad what was new.

"Well," he said, "I'm gay."

Without mising a beat, FMTMSK said "I know."

"When did you know?" Chad demanded.

"I've always known" FMTSMK responded.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Chad asked.

Clearly, we occasionally fail to see things within ourselves that others notice quite readily. It's a bit like having garlic at lunch and then returning to the office. You may notice that people around you are uncomfortable, but you may not put two and two together and find yourself some Altoids.

So how is this related to knitting? Well, it isn't really. It's actually related to finding yourself in the proverbial closet, and how comfortable you are with coming out. Please don't misunderstand, I don't for a moment equate clandestine knitting with hiding a sexual preference which could (and in many cases and parts of the world) does result in discrimination and mistreatment. Also, I don't mean to imply that homosexuality is an avocation, or even that it is a choice. From my perspective, it seems fairly far-fetched that Chad, for example, would have knowingly chosen to be gay. He and I grew up in the deep south, in a relatively tolerant university town, but that town was in the deep south - in a part of the world where cross burnings still occur. No, I suspect Chad had about as much choice in his being gay as I have in wanting to join the Bacon of the Month Club. Some things are simply innate.

Knitting is a choice. But my own brand of knitting is still a bit secretive. And in that very limited sense I have an understanding of what Chad must have felt when "coming out" to FMTSMK and me. He wanted to make the announcement. He wanted to be in control of the message.

In the last few weeks, I've now had several people "out" me as a knitter. Once was at the office, when a coworker who is aware of my proclivities mentioned my "Fishbonacci" Hat to another co-worker who was previously unaware of this aspect of my life. On another occasion, I had a very sweet lady (a near stranger) ask me for pointers on Jared Flood's Grove mittens while I was sitting on a crowded ferry. She and I had attended the same circle some days before, and I'd mentioned that I'd started (but not finished) the mittens.

In each case, no harm was done. But my anonymity may be waning. For me, that's worrisome. Not so for Chad, who I believe is now fully in the open. He's part of the DC Cowboys.


1 comment:

  1. You're not alone! The first knitter I ever met was a straight man.

    Allen learned how to knit while he was in the Navy. I guess when you're stationed on a submarine for months at a time you gravitate towards hobbies that can be very compact, and you can squash a lot of yarn into a footlocker!