The Psychology of Coming Out

One thing that really struck me about Walking with Shadows was the reactions of the characters, including Adrian himself, to his coming out. I expected, after so many decades of living a false live, for Adrian to have a very dramatic experience. However, in the scenes where Adrian comes out to his wife and brothers, he actually plays the voice of reason. While his family reacts with alternating threats of violence, accusations of betrayal, denial, and homophobia, Adrian calmly explains to them that this is who he is, and that life does not have to be complicated just because he is gay. This is interesting because despite living in a society that highly stigmatizes homosexuality, Adrian fears losing his family more than he fears any other retribution. That and coupled with the relief of finally being open is most likely why he is so calm and rational while explaining his sexuality to his loved ones. The psychological stress of hiding one’s sexuality for so many years is great. Adrian must have felt frustrated for having to pretend to be straight for so long, and guilty for not being truthful to his wife. It also appears he himself experiences quite a bit of denial about the subject, even convincing himself that he “used” to be gay and that he really does love his wife. He may have kept this secret forever, except he is maliciously outed by an enemy. Although this was unfortunate, it spares Adrian the agony that so many go through of weighing whether or not and how to come out to their families. For Adrian, coming out becomes simply an affirmation to himself and his loved ones of something he knew about himself all along. For his family, however, this is a much different experience. His wife breaks down, lashes out, and contemplates leaving him. His brothers hypocritically demand why he had not told them before while at the same time portraying homophobia and accusing Adrian of going against the Bible. It is apparent that these characters were not well acquainted with any other out gay people, and it seems like this is the first time they had ever considered the issue, with all the attached stigmas, on a personal level. In this way, it seems like Adrian’s coming out was less a reveal of his character as of the characters of his family. Adrian always knew he was gay, but through coming out, something gets pulled to the fore that was not easily seen before – intolerance.

So what do you guys think, does Dibia write Adrian so calm in order to juxtapose his righteousness against his family’s anger and intolerance?

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Posted on November 13, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think Dibia make Adrian as a calm character because this novel would not function without it. If Adrian came out and was angry at what is going on around him, he would not be able to make the connections and change the minds of the people around him. To go through a beating that he did and still be calm is not about righteousness as it is resolve to keep going and to break the cycle of hatred that he has started to live in a much more obvious fashion as he has come out.

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