John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

"Trapped in the Closet"

Without a doubt, the single silliest thing I have ever watched on television was the urban “hip-hopera,” “Trapped in the Closet” by R. Kelly. It was shown a couple of years ago on one of my favorite channels (IFC). It was late, and I couldn’t sleep. What can I say?

So bad it was impossible to turn away. Like a train wreck. Bad in ways I didn’t think possible. Bad like “Plan 9 from Outer Space” meets “Howard the Duck” meets “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. So bad it was kinda good.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, it’s a 22-chapter musical soap opera sung from the point of view of a man who wakes up in the bed of a woman with whom he had sex the previous night. When the woman’s husband arrives unexpectedly, the man is forced to hide in a bedroom closet. Hence the title of the song.

Things go from predictable to ridiculous. There are dizzying plot points and twists involving midgets and guns and allergies – with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that virtually force you into watching the next installment.

The point of the whole thing is that infidelity can ruin lives and, very often in this world, what goes around comes around.

The reason I bring this up now is because I believe there’s another point to R. Kelly’s magnum opus. And this is where it (hopefully) moves from silly to sensible. It is this: Just about everyone spends time trapped in a closet at some point in time or another.

It is, of course, impossible for us to hear those words without thinking about gay people. The phrases “in the closet” and “out of the closet” have become shorthand for gay people who either refuse to publicly acknowledge their proclivities or do so with some measure of pride. “Coming out (of the closet)” is, to some degree, for gay people what being baptized is for Christians – a public declaration of identity.

But, when I say that everyone spends some time “in the closet”, I don’t mean that everyone’s latently gay. I simply mean that people hide. It’s been our tendency since Eve handed the fruit to Adam back in Genesis 3. We hide like our lives depend on it.

So, there are three things I try to keep in mind when I talk to gay people:

  1. Gay people aren’t the only people who live in closets.
  2. People live in closets because they are afraid.
  3. It is never God’s best for anyone to live in a closet.