The closet sucks.
I was raised to value honesty quite highly. To this day, few insults will get under my skin quite like being called a liar.
And yet I've spent every day since working out my sexual orientation keeping things from the people around me. It was years before I said anything to my father, and longer after that I spoke to my mother about it. And every new person who comes into my life, I need to make a decision about when or if they'll ever be allowed to know about this part of my personality.
I've chosen to speak openly about the fact that I am a pedophile in all my online dealings, in part, as a way to balance out the number of lies of omission I perpetrate on a daily basis.
No one likes being in the closet. No one likes keeping everyone around them at arms length, nor does anyone enjoy constantly questioning whether the people in your life would accept or reject you if they knew the secrets you're keeping from them.
I've been very cautious and very lucky. Everyone I've chosen to speak to in meatspace about my sexuality has accepted me and recognized that I'm not a psychopath just because of what I find attractive. Likewise they've all recognized it as my right to tell people or not as I choose. That adds up to three people including my parents.
I don't like thinking the worst of my friends and family, but the closet is, by its very nature, a defense mechanism. The stakes are quite high, since once this particular secret is out, my life changes forever, for the worse. There is at least one mandatory reporter in my family, and if he sticks with his schooling, another will be added among my friends in a few years time. I haven't broken the law, but not everyone understands what the law is, including friends, family, and mandatory reporters.
Anyone I tell both my real name and my orientation to is someone that I've chosen to trust with my life. Someone who's intentions and competence at keeping my secrets I consider beyond reproach. Because when I give those pieces of information to someone together, I'm willingly handing them the power to destroy my life by accident.
I really wish I didn't need that much trust in a person to share completely. I have nothing but respect for individuals who've publicly outed themselves, whether as pedophiles or as any despised invisible minority, since they're hastening the day when that level of trust won't be necessary. I hold nothing but contempt for those who out others against their will, since they've betrayed someone who put so much trust in them.
I find myself frequently evaluating my friends and family. What signs can I give that I could plausibly deny afterward? If this person responds badly, can I cut them out of my life effectively enough to avoid the worst consequences of that bad reaction? What do they already know about the subject, and is there a way to educate them on tolerance without inadvertently outing myself before I feel safe?
For everyone who's never had to spend time in the closet, you have no idea how lucky you are.