This post is a contribution from guest blogger Derrick McMahon. Be nice, give him feedback and hopefully he'll return to the blog often.
Whenever the topic of being out and proud of your sexual orientation comes up a lot of men who don't want to come out often cite one reason.
"They are private people"
Now on the surface this seems like a reasonable explanation for remaining in the closet about ones sexual orientation. But if you dig a little deeper you begin to realize that the privacy they cite is in fact not privacy at all but a deeper shame or hatred of their sexual orientation and it's perceived acceptance or non acceptance in society.
Sexual orientation is the term used to describe whether a person feels sexual desire for people of the opposite gender (heterosexual), same gender (homosexual), or both genders (bisexual).
Now if we are to work with this definition in mind if heterosexuals don't have to be private about their sexual orientation (who they desire) then why must gay men have to be private about who they desire?
If in fact sexual orientation was something to keep private then wouldn't millions of heterosexuals keep their sexual orientation private as well? They wouldn't hold hands in public. They wouldn't wear wedding bands. They wouldn't have pictures of themselves on their locker, their social networking profiles, their desks at work or school.
What I have found is that a lot of gay men get sexual orientation and sexual activity mistaken. Thinking that by admitting that they are gay (their sexual orientation) that they have also revealed their sexual activity. Which is not the case. Just as by virtue of someone being heterosexual you don't know their sexual activities the same is true for homosexuals. When any one of us think we know someones sexual activities based solely off of their sexual orientation that is called making an ASSUMPTION.
An assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts.
Most people don't want someone to know what they do in the bedroom. Mostly because we are a conservative society. But your sexual orientation does not tell what you do in the bedroom, how you do it in that bedroom, when you do it in that bedroom, and where in that bedroom you do it (bed, floor, dresser, sling you bought from adult toy store).
So when I hear so many gay men saying "Oh I am in the closet because I am private and I don't want people knowing what I do in the bedroom" I am always confused.
Exactly how does disclosing your sexual orientation equate to people knowing your sexual activity? The argument can be made that gay men have anal sex but that is not true for all gay men. Many prefer oral sex, frotting, and other methods of connecting physically with their mate.
I guess I am saying all of this because so many gay men have a misconception of what sexual orientation is. It is merely who you desire sexually. It is not your sexual activity (behavior). It is imperative that gay men understand this and reject any notion that attributes anal sex exclusively to gay men.
If you are in the closet because you don't want people to know your sexual activity that's one thing. By all means keep your sexual activities private if you want, but that should have nothing to do with you hiding your sexual orientation which is separate. You don't have to deny you are gay just to prevent people from knowing your sexual activities. People knowing that you have sexual desires for other men is not the same as people making the assumption that you have sex with men.