By Ley on Friday, September 24, 2010 - 22:48
The Guardian recently posted an article on their website called 'Let people come out for all our sakes'.
It's discussing the lack of not only celebrities who come out in the public eye, but also mentions the lack of MPs who’ve publicly come out in the opening of the article as well.
In all honesty, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the whole 'public celebrity outings' as news. The article lists a poll that was ran after The X Factor’s latest winner Joe McElderry came out and stated that 50% said it wasn’t news worthy for a newspapers front page, and only 5% said that they thought it was news.
Hand on heart, as much as I appreciate the exposure and visibility aspects of celebrities coming out, I honestly think that the only way for equality and acceptance to truly take place is when outings are just part of everyday life, and not made into a great big song and dance.
Part of the thing that gets me about it, is the whole game of hide and seek that some celebrities go through before just admitting they are gay and getting on with their life. The one example that springs to mind is The L Word’s very own Molly: actress Clementine Ford. The woman was in and then out the closet in such a short spell of time, I’m surprised she didn’t feel like a media yoyo.
With these kinds of nervous outings, it makes the hide and seek game almost more interesting than the outing itself: is she or isn’t she? Oh, ok, she is... next victim of the game is...??? Oh yeah, of course: Jodie Foster.
In the linked article, they appear to be seeing Ms Foster as a flame barer for other Hollywood actors and actresses to come out, if Jodie takes the plunge first and comes out more officially than she did at the Women in Entertainment Breakfast in 2007. Articles like these make it even harder for celebrities to come out, because after all, would you willingly come out to Joe Public if you knew how much pressure would be immediately placed on your shoulders for others to follow suit?
With National Coming Out Day soon arriving, will this put a new level of pressure on celebrities, MPs and everyday people, to take their first tentative step out the closet... or a giant leap? Why make it a national day at all? Coming out is something that can only be done when the person’s ready to do so, not because someone thought it’d be a great idea to put added pressure to come out on a particular day!
I’m all for people coming out, it’s a massive step towards acceptance and knowing who you yourself are. I just don’t feel that those who do should be given the label of 'role model'.
Growing up, I looked at the TV or news or listened to the radio, but never felt that those I saw, heard, or read about were my role models. I think too much emphasis have been put on people in the media spotlight to become 'role models', and then when they screw up they get ripped to shreds through the very same media that put them there in the first place.
In my experience, role models are people close to you that you share experiences with and admire, that you know have overcome all odds to be the incredible person that they are, and that make you want to be even a fraction of the amazing person they are. Not, I have to say, an actress, musician, TV presenter or sports person that is smiley in the spotlight, but acts like a moody, spoiled brat in reality. If a celebrity still falls under the category, as a role model they should be consistent in personality both in and out the spotlight.
Ok, here’s where I am now known as a terrible gay: a teeny tiny part of me feels the same about some Pride events. Don’t shout at me, just hear me out. I completely get that us gays are known for partying, having a good time on nights out, and pretty much being all round awesome people. This, I do not have a problem with in the slightest.
The one part that makes me question it that teeny tiny bit, is because of a few points: the media coverage that accompanies the events just fuel the stereotypical images that Joe Public have already created for us and are highly unlikely to change when all they see are those images simply reiterating what they already know; and we make out that we want to be accepted the same as everyone else, but go out of our way to do so, which just makes us stand out all the more.