Stop saying coming out “isn’t a big deal” as you are not helping others -we are nowhere near true equality

Beyonce’s tribute to Frank Ocean
Over the past few weeks it looked as if several celebrities left the closet and came out as gay. This was reported, around the world, as a gay victory. To many it proved that gay stars dared to be free in the new supportive American climate. Though all this might be debatable, the stars at least had the khutspe to speak out about who they are. – If these stars actually came out is another matter, but we return to this later.

Surprisingly their revelations where met with an almost scorn like attitude by the gay media.
Suddenly they were saying that coming out isn’t necessary anymore, that most people were saying “who cares” to the revelation. The articles were written in such a way that it made the stars almost made to look foolish for even coming out in the first place.

Now let me get this erm … straight here: you’d rather people not speak about their sexuality because you feel coming out is passé? There is a reason people have to say they are gay, you know: if you don’t say it people naturally assume you’re straight and that the best friend of the opposite gender you are shopping with is your partner and not the one you share your bed with.

Point two, no-one cares? Anderson Cooper trended worldwide for two days after his revelations, Frank Ocean did for longer, while the first search help term you get when typing their names in Google is “gay” which makes me think that there are a few million people who do care.

The one or two “who cares” usually come from people who want people to stay inside the closet. They are part of the “why do people have to come out as gay, I don’t have to come out as straight do I” lot.

It is very sad that the gay community is falling for this and writing column after column on why coming out and gay pride and everything that makes us the gay community isn’t necessary anymore.

Have you got any idea how confusing this is for gay teens. This read this and think: if coming out isn’t necessary, if these celebrities same silly for doing it, why do I have to do it? I’d rather stay in, blend in.

Young gay writers are basing their coming out isn’t a big deal on the amount of media attention it gets. Because the coming outs weren’t as big as Ellen it isn’t a big deal anymore they feel, and hasn‘t the world changed because Lady Gaga sang “Born This Way”?

Wrong, the reason it isn’t on the same level is because 1. the stars aren’t as big Frank Ocean’s coming out might be a big step for the music industry, but he isn’t a major world-famous star. In British tabloid the Sun his coming out was reduced to “Justin Bieber song writer’s song turns out to be about gay love”. Now if Justin himself had come out or he be splashed on the cover of every magazine around the world, you betcha.

Point two, during Ellen’s coming out, we didn’t have as much news sites and social media forums as we do now, so if you base it on an article about the coming out barely getting hits or responses you can count on people having read it elsewhere and responding there.

Point 3 get your facts right: poster boy for the “quiet coming” out, Big Bang Theory actor Jim Parsons, hasn’t come out at all. All the theories of “coming out doesn’t matter” are based round his supposed coming out in a few lines at the end of a NY times article. (It actually DID cause quite a big media furore, but it was wrong.) Jim Parsons has never been in the closet, he has been out since the very beginning of his career. He always showed his partner love in public, even dedicating an award to him on live TV last year and always spoke about his sexuality in the media,. So how can you be the poster boy of the quiet coming out, when in fact, you were not coming out? As Sheldon Cooper would say: “bazinga”.

The responses to his faux coming out haven’t all been positive either, on fan sites people stated they couldn’t look at him anymore in Big Bang as they kept seeing him having gay sex in their mind, Christian fans were shocked and girls disappointed. The groups feeling this way were surprisingly quite big.

Anderson Cooper was -despite the fact that he too was always open and just reaffirmed it- met with the same shock and horror despite a lot of people saying they already knew it. So even a second coming out is still a coming out for many.

Where Frank Ocean is concerned, well we still need to see the true effect on the black music scene. He isn’t a rap artist or even a full on R&B artists (he writes for Justin Bieber!!). He might be part of hip hop collective Odd Future, but it ’s stars are pro gay JayZ and Kanye West, together with always out lesbian Syd tha Kid. By most hard-core hip hoppers Frank isn’t seen as true hip hop, so the effects on that scene might be minimal.
Sadly most people still aren’t sure what his coming out truly means anyway: is he gay, is he bisexual? Just to be on the safe side, quite a few “fans” have already shared their disgust and horror and made it clear in a very offensive way that they don’t want him to sing about loving another man, as he does on his new album.

Patrick Ian Polk (openly gay writer and creator of ‘Noah’s Arc”) has said on his Twitter: “Can’t tell u how many ppl feel like it’s “not a big deal”; “we’ve evolved”; “who cares if he’s gay”? Obviously a lot of evil assholes care. I retweet the hate because people need to see it. People need to see what evil is out there. #FrankOcean You must know your enemy in order to defeat them. Knowledge is power.”

Confusing the political rights we have gained and the support by celebrities with a change in people’s attitude towards LGTB is dangerous.
One glance in the comments section of the Huffington Post under their article on the arrested Russian gay rights activists should tell you that. Most readers wished that their countries were as against gay rights as the Russians. They don’t understand WHY gay rights are needed.
“Who cares” for them means: stay inside, don’t tell us. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It doesn’t mean the world has evolved, it means people don’t want to hear.

Gay rights and hate crimes are ignored by the media. There are no true gay superstars besides Elton John. Adam Lambert, despite his success, is ignored and George Michael is ridiculed, The Scissor Sisters seem to exist solely in the form of the straight female member where the press is ignored and gay stars are often used as figures of fun when written about. Stars still fade away after their coming out.

Owen Jones said: “The very fact that coming out – whether you’re a TV anchor, pop star, teacher or train driver – remains such an event shows how far the struggle for equality has to go. My first boyfriend came out when he was 15; he was promptly sent to a pseudo-doctor to be “cured”. Others have sent me their stories, many of which reveal just how hard coming to terms with sexuality remains in modern Britain.”

True, if it was all so easy managers wouldn’t build fake images for stars anymore. If things were safe John Travolta wouldn’t cling on desperately to the last fading remains of his straight life. Tom Cruise wouldn’t be in an equally sticky mess of mockery. Queen Latifah wouldn’t be in an out like a revolving door if her manager didn’t push her back in every time she came out. The only way to come out for some stars is to post it on their sites or Twitter/Facebook and hope their manager isn’t going to say they were hacked. It is still such a big deal.

As a blogger on Sabotage Times states: “[Some coming outs are happy] However, not everyone is so lucky. Many, many people do experience extreme intolerance and are terrified of telling people their true sexuality. It is a sad fact that LGBT youth are around 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, mostly due to fears surrounding their acceptance in society. There are still professions, institutions and indeed countries around the world that are completely, sometimes violently, homophobic.”

A blogger on Huffingtonpost added: “Well, ask yourself why kids are killing themselves. If people didn’t feel oppressed or marginalized, they wouldn’t feel the need to hide, to lie or to commit suicide. You ask, “so what” because it doesn’t affect you. But when the whole world tells you that you’re wrong for even existing, it makes perfect sense that one would want to hide. I don’t know why that’s so hard for some people to understand. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and announce that you’re gay in this country and especially in others. I wish it were really “so what.” But until no one cares, it’s going to be a big deal. We have to let the world see us and get to know us before they will finally say “so what” and mean it.”

Yes, coming out is still a major aspect of gay life, as it is the only way to show who you are, who your partner is, who you love. It is not to be snubbed, not to be treated as a small deal. It takes courage and strength. If a celebrity comes out is means hope for that one gay fan out there, struggling to tell their parents, scared to face their school peers, their community. It means the world for many people on a big scale and a small. One coming out can change the life of others, so keep doing it!!

Published by Dannii Cohen

Dannii Cohen is an author, producer and radio-host with a diploma in psychology. She is a former columnist for Life Hack, The Feminine Collective, The Gay UK and many other magazines.

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