The Question of Anonymity

So I spent the last couple of months thinking about starting a blog. I was particularly hesitant because I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be anonymous or not. This was important enough of an issue to me—or, rather, I obsessed about it to such a ridiculous degree—that I wanted to have a permanent place to explain my thinking.

First of all, I have a personal aversion to anonymity. Why?

  • Because Plato tells me it’s a bad thing
  • Because as a gay man, I feel like I have a certain obligation to be ‘out,’ rather than perpetuating the idea that gay men should be embarrassed by and hide their sexuality
  • Because I want my friends and family to read this, and the best way to accomplish that goal would be to share this blog on social media, which I’m not going to do if I want to retain anonymity

But ultimately, anonymity won out.

You see, it turns out there are also a number of significant countervailing factors.

While I talk a good game about the importance of abolishing the closet, the simple truth is that I’m not out to everyone in my life. And even though I’ve made some significant progress on that front, I’m not ready for any random person who Googles my name to know that my greatest weakness is a stubbly jawline—and let’s face, there are plenty of family members who don’t want to hear that either.

Plus, more and more, my generation wants our online space preserved for our private life, without feeling as though future employers are standing over our shoulders. Since I don’t drink and have a boring social life, I don’t generally think of myself as someone needing to prevent my personal life from appearing online—although my parents have, on multiple occasions, confidently informed me that making my leftist leanings publicly known will leave me perpetually unemployable. Still, on some level, it does bother me that future employers might be rifling through my vacation pictures on Facebook.

But blogging is of a different magnitude than status updates and selfies; while I don’t mind an employer judging me for boring weekends, I am less comfortable about them perusing my innermost thoughts that may accidentally trickle out over here.

Finally, let’s face it, anonymity increases honesty. Because if this blog weren’t anonymous, I would be censoring my writing. I would be worrying about potential employers or potential partners or friends and family members reading this. And I certainly wouldn’t be admitting that those worries were impacting my writing.

So I’m going to be anonymous.

But not that Anonymous. They scare me.

But that decision still bothers me, and I think I know why. In addition to explaining my reasons for choosing anonymity, I need to be abundantly clear about one reason that DID NOT motivate my choice: the LDS Church. Being gay is a rather challenging and divisive issue within Mormonism, and could one day carry particularly stark consequences for me personally. And there is a (very 1984-esque) culture within the Church that what members do online could impact our real world relationship with the Church.

This is something that I will almost certainly return to in later posts, but it’s bothering me enough that I wanted to explicitly address it here: I am not remaining anonymous out of fear from a Church reaction.  My bishop knows I am openly, sexually actively gay. My future relationship with the Church already rests in his hands, and I don’t want anyone to suspect that my real motives for anonymity are to protect my status within my ward.  Somewhere deep down, my sense of pride requires that this fact remain abundantly clear from the get go.

So there you have it. I get that you may not agree. I’m still skeptical of the whole anonymity thing. But I hope, at least, that you can understand why.


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