Interesting cover story in Entertainment weekly a couple weeks ago By the Way, We’re Gay. The New Art of Coming Out, which was released just before newsman Anderson Cooper’s recent revelation, surprising as sunrise to many. While I understand it intellectually, I always thought it was too bad that gay folks have to endure that process. After all, I didn’t have to go to my parents, palms sweating, and announce, “I AM A….HETEROSEXUAL!” Few people chastise me for promoting the “heterosexual agenda.”

The article noted how far lesbians and gay men have come since Ellen DeGeneres’ pronouncement made the cover of TIME magazine 15 years ago, which pretty much killed her career – until it didn’t. It’s the observation of many, and I totally agree, that her comeback started with one joke. She was hosting the Emmys two months after September 11, 2001, after a couple program reschedulings; she asked the audience, “What would bug a guy from the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?” It was just the right tonic. And now, she’s that dancin’ fool on her own talk show.

A pointed observation in EW: “Over the past decade, the press has become more hostile to, and aggressive about, celebrities who are perceived to be closeted to exactly the same degree it’s become more accommodating to those who come out.”

Conversely, I find more than a few people of my acquaintance who think that when gays, either public figures or private citizens, come out, they are “throwing their sexuality in my face.” Not the intention, just being honest with others, and quite possibly, themselves.

From the last paragraph of the EW piece: “So although the drip-drip-drip steadiness of coming-out news can seem inconsequential, cumulatively the stories serve as the very quiet herald of a major tectonic shift. What was impossible 60 years ago and dangerous 40 years ago and difficult 20 years ago is now becoming no big deal.” Which is as I would like it to be.

4 Responses to “Coming Out stories”

  • I was reading a post the other day that made a really good point about gay people coming out, and why it’s necessary:

    “Heterosexuals do announce their sexuality in public, all the time, of course. Walking down the street holding hands, kissing their lover, wearing wedding rings, clothing and other aesthetic codes. But it is not a movement from unacknowledged to public, it has no risk or social consequences in itself. In his coming out letter, Cooper notes that he didn’t come out because a reporter’s private life shouldn’t matter. Indeed. But part of the point is, being heterosexual isn’t private—it’s public.”

    So, we’re not throwing our sexuality in anyone’s face, we’re throwing our humanity, our right to be, to exist and to behave exactly the same as our heterosexual friends and family, nothing more. The only reason any heterosexuals think we’re throwing our sexuality in their faces is that they’re oblivious to the fact that they do that to us each and every day of our lives. The real difference is that they’re not likely to be beaten or killed for doing so in public. So, for me, if some heterosexuals are upset by gay people coming out, well, too bad.

  • The thing with Anderson Cooper is that I thought people knew before his article. It wasn’t really “coming out,” more just making a comment about “Well, I’m gay and I’m comfortable with it. I’m not ‘a gay war correspondent,’ I’m a war correspondent who happens to be gay.”

    Big ones that really changed some of my more conservative friends views of gays were Sir Ian Murray McKellen and George Takei. “Gandalf and Sulu are gay??? Huh.”

    One of my Christian friends recently asked on Facebook “If I don’t support gay marriage, does that make me a ‘hater’?” It’s an interesting, complicated question.

  • Roger says:

    Chris- I suppose it depends what they support instead

  • CGHill says:

    A closet is no place for a human being.

    A friend of mine – online at first, though we met in person eventually – is right about now headed back home from Vermont, where she and her wife tied the knot legally, since they can’t do it in their home state. As the phrase goes, it’s a start.

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