This post is part of a series originally called "30 Day LGBT Challenge" which asks queer-related questions to be answered during Pride Month. The original questions can be found here.
Day 8: What do you think the closet or being closeted means to you?
Being closeted means that you are intentionally withholding or lying about your gender identity or sexual orientation (or any other factor about yourself) and actively trying to prevent people from learning about them.
So for instance, at work I am stealth about my trans status. For a trans person, when we try to prevent people from learning we are trans while living in our identified gender and "passing" as if we are cisgender, that's called being stealth. Stealthness is one way to be closeted. I also was closeted for a few years working at summer camps. I was not stealth, because I was presenting as a woman and trying to convince them I was one. So that's just closeted.
Some trans people will disagree with me on that point, saying if you're already integrated then you're already out of the closet. Meh. I get the perspective, but I disagree.
I'm not closeted anywhere about my sexual orientation, but I also don't actively bring it up. To use the work example again, when the subject comes up I will mention--using very simplistic, hetero-friendly language--that I don't have a gender preference (usually I just say I'm bisexual or into any gender). Since my current partner is a woman, there are few cases in which this ever comes up. To use another local example, my manager is a man married to another man. He has not called himself gay (not around me) but he also isn't closeted because he does not try to hide his marriage. Related note: His existence and openness is basically the entire reason why I am not closeted about my sexual orientation at work.
I have been closeted in the past, though, meaning I was actively having relations with a man but also actively not saying anything about it, avoiding discussions of relationships, never disclosing if I was single or not, and occasionally lying when asked. The closet, by the way, totally sucks.