Coming Out of the Closet

Whenever my family got together, whether it was my mother’s side or my dad’s side, old stories were dusted off and trotted out to re-tell to whoever had or had not heard them in a while. Most of them were humorous, some tragic and some just boring but with historical information about our heritage. One story that always made me laugh as a child was told by my dad’s brother about the Great Grandmother.

She passed away long before I was born and never came to the United States but stayed in her homeland of Kiev. The story went that one evening after a family gathering for a holiday celebration, the old Great Grandmother had a bit too much vodka to drink. She was leaving the house to go home and opened what she thought was the front door. Soon everyone in the house could hear her yelling, “I don’t know where I am. It has turned pitch dark outside here. Please help.”

My uncle came running to see what had happened. The Great Grandmother had opened the wrong door and had wandered into the coat closet. Once she was guided out of the closet she regained her dignity and huffed away outside, accompanied by my Uncle who was at the time in his 20’s,

The story was made even more humorous because it was told half in Russian and half in English. I only understood a little of Russian and could not speak it at all. I was around 7 years old at the time but was talented in understanding family languages even though I had never been taught them. Later in life, when remembering this story I realized that we all tend to wander into closets from time to time.

Some of us are born in very dark, seriously locked up closets. These closets are mostly constructed of; racism and prejudices against other humans rather than bricks and wood and are filled with hate and fear rather than harmless wool coats like my Great Grandmother’s entrapping closet. Some of the closets that we find ourselves trapped in are those of religion or lack thereof, of weight, age, skin color, height, sexual preference, political affiliation, physical ability or challenges to ordinary physical ability from injury or birth errors.

We find closets built around women, around people of other nationalities, around children, around pregnancy. There are closets for those who have limited skills and those who have mental challenges or addictions. All these people are screaming that it’s dark inside their closets and they want to find their way out. It’s our duty, our obligation, our calling to help them open the doors to their closets and find their way out into the light. Think this over. What would you do if you found yourself in a dark closet with the door closed and locked?