February seems to be national coming out month this year. Jason Collins made history last week by being the first openly gay NBA player.
This, only weeks after NFL-hopeful Michael Sam received attention for coming out in an interview with ESPN.
The sports world wasn’t the only industry shaken by talk of homosexuality. Actress Ellen Page shocked film-fans when she gave an emotional 8-minute coming out speech on Valentine’s Day.
With all the media attention that these celebrities are garnering, it begs the question: when will coming out no longer be newsworthy?
The answer is probably never. Our country is obsessed with how celebrities live their lives behind closed doors. The paparazzi are literally knocking people over to take pictures of celebrities being “just like us!” I can’t imagine a view into a celebrity’s sex life ever not being of interest to the general public.
I think the goal for the LGBT community should be for being gay to not carry a negative stigma. And unfortunately, they have a long way to go.
I’ve noticed a lot of blogs and user-comments that all ask: “Is coming out in this day and age still brave?”
Absolutely. Any time someone actively chooses to do something that will garner them less pay, less equality and possible death threats I’d say it’s pretty damn brave.
The majority of the twitter reaction to Michael Sam’s coming out was nothing less than disgusting. Men and women alike flocked to their phones to get out their hate in 140 characters or less.
Sports Illustrated reported that all NFL executives and coaches interviewed agreed Sam’s coming out would undoubtedly drop him in the draft. A fact Sam no doubt considered before making his announcement.
I don’t think it should even be questioned if coming-out in the public eye takes courage. It’s a necessary evil that many gay people have had to and will continue to endure until equality is reached.
Homophobia is the only fear that is also an excuse for hate. If a homophobic person openly admitted they were afraid of gay people I don’t think I could fault them for it.
I often laugh while imagining a hyperventilating self-proclaimed homophobic redneck.
“Oh no, here comes a faggot! It’s not that I’m against their lifestyle choice I just have an irrational fear. It makes me uneasy, like driving over bridges or tinfoil.”
The problem is people don’t admit when they’re homophobic. It’s hard for people to admit what they don’t understand and many people simply don’t understand the gay lifestyle. That lack of understanding comes out as discrimination or hate.
That is why openly gay celebrities are an integral part of the LGBT movement. People can’t accept what they don’t understand and seeing positive gay role models is the first step to understanding.
Some people might argue that it’s not fear or a lack of understanding that makes them against the gay lifestyle. Often, people argue that it’s a religious belief and that homosexuality threatens the institute of marriage.
I call bullshit. Let’s be real, the sanctity of marriage was lost long ago. Glynn Wolfe, who died in 1997, still holds the record for most marriages at 29. TWENTY NINE. If people were really so concerned with the institute of marriage this guy would have been burned at the stake.
If one man, a Baptist minister no less, can marry 29 women why can’t one dude marry another dude? Fear of change is the only answer.
Until gays have equal rights coming out stories will always be important. And though it’s a hefty weight to bear, gay celebrities have an obligation to come out in the public eye.
So to all you Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harrises out there: thank you. Thank you for being gay and being likable. Even if you change at least one person’s mind about homosexuality you’ve done your gay duty.