How ‘out’ are you?

Posted by Karen Degen on 3rd June 2014

Tags: HIV, gay, health, in the closet, mask, research, study

I read some really interesting research done on HIV positive gay men which aimed to find out whether how ‘out’ or ‘closeted’ they were with their homosexuality affected their disease progression.  Study participants were asked to rate themselves as ‘definitely in the closet’, ‘in the closet most of the time’, ‘half in and half out’, ‘out most of the time’ or ‘completely out of the closet’.  Researchers then followed the progression of their disease and the results are fascinating because their HIV infection progressed more quickly in direct proportion to how ‘in the closet’ they were.  The more they lived in alignment with their truth, the healthier they were.  The results weren’t subtle either – those who were mostly or all the way in the closet hit critically low CD4 counts 40% faster than those who were mostly or all the way out and they died 21% faster!  We can all take a lesson from that because no matter what our sexual orientation, many of us hide who we really are.  We hide behind a mask and behave like we think others want us to behave.  We feel we can’t be truly ourselves because we won’t be accepted or liked enough.  We act differently with different people.  To what extend are you being truly you?  To what extent are you out of the closet?  I know I can’t say I’m 100% completely out with all people all of the time.  If your health is not as good as it could be perhaps it’s time to look at how ‘out’ you are in relation to being yourself.