Every time a celebrity comes out of the closet and it is spread all over the blogosphere and makes the front cover of entertainment magazines, I pretty much always have the same reaction — to think to myself, “Why is this still considered newsworthy?” I would like to take you more thoroughly through this thought process with me.
We, as society, do not generally put information on the front cover of magazines that is not, as it were, out of the ordinary. You’re not going to see a bunch of bananas on the front cover of Newsweek Magazine with the headline, “Bananas — They’re Sometimes Yellow, Green, Or Even Brown!” Similarly, when a man goes on a date with a woman and wants to tell the world there is no venue in the world that would be interested in hearing it because it is completely ordinary for people to be in relationships if that is what they want to do and for them not to be in one if that is not what they want to do.
Why is it, then, that when a man who is a celebrity happens to mention to the media that he is, in fact, a happy man in a committed relationship with another man, he suddenly is catapulted to the front page of many magazines, newspapers, and blogs? In the last week or so, both Victor Garber and Jodie Foster have made remarks relating to their sexuality and have been swamped with media attention since then.
America, let it be known that I am a happily married heterosexual man who has a two year old son that sometimes doesn’t like being told to take a nap. Do you care about this at all? I most certainly hope not, and you should care no less about Victor Garber, Jodie Foster, Ricky Martin, Lance Bass, Neil Patrick Harris, or any other man, woman, or transgendered individual who has love in their life. I am happy to see that we have made a lot of progress as far as human rights and equality but as long as every single actor announcing their sexuality makes headlines, we will not quite reach where we need to be.
The reason these public confessions are still a big deal is that being Gay in America is still not on equal standing as everyone else. Gays are a minority and they are still discriminated against in the law when it comes to marriage and they are punished economically and socially for their sexual preferences.
I think the best example of why these coming out stories are important is in the recent example of Newark Mayor Cory Booker who said he “hated gays” in 1992 — until he met one one that changed his mind:
Can you name a current professional baseball player or football player who is Gay? We know, statistically speaking, have to be at least a few. Why are they afraid to come out of the closet and be who they were born to be?
As long as the mainstream assumption that everyone is straight and not Gay — there will always be people who feel safer hiding from the majority than being brave to self-identify with a discriminated against minority.
There is power in numbers and that’s why when famous, successful, people come out say they’re Gay, they help make the path to social acceptance wider and safer for those behind them.
Beautifully written. I look forward to the day when there is not just social acceptance but full and true equality.