In Adam Foulds’ short story, The Rules Are the Rules, Peter’s closet homosexuality is the most obvious instance of a character being in the closet. His character steamrolls his way through the story, showing the challenges of being a closeted Catholic priest. Throughout the story, we see Peter struggling internally with his secret and his relationship with God. However, what if Peter’s case was not the only expression of closeted homosexuality in the story? If a closer look is taken, one could find many instances of the characters struggling with their sexuality and being in the closet throughout the short story.
However, in order to explore these other characters, studying Peter’s struggle is essential to understanding the other characters’…
In fact, Peter attaches most of his identity to his relationship with God. In doing so, he is able to completely deny who he is to everyone he knows, and hide parts of himself away from even his lover, Steve. Even something as simple as his outfit choice controls his closeted behavior. On page 203, Foulds says that Peter “[puts] on black jeans and a black top. Even when he wasn’t working, that’s what he would put on,” this suggests that Peter’s need to fit in and be normal and keep the facade of a straight male puts so much pressure on him that he cannot even get out of his uniform when he is home. This idea of keeping a uniform transfers over when he is in sermon. Even something as simple as his voice creates a lull for Peter to fall into in order to hide his true self:
Peter had honestly tried for a while not to have a church voice, but it proved impossible. His normal voice wouldn’t carry. To be audible and dignified he needed that slow ceremonial sound. He heard himself go into it at the beginning of the liturgy and it ran like a machine. He could let it function, could feel the motions of his mouth, whole up behind his eyes he looked around and thought….