Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Are LGBTQA+ Public Figures Obligated To "Come Out"?

When I came out to my parents - it felt archaic. As proud of myself as I was, and as much as it was freeing and their support was amazing - it seemed completely unnecessary; I never would have sat them down and talked so openly about a relationship with a boy, and yet because of the sex of my partner I felt like it was my duty to disclose our relationship. I thought this was something that only I was hung up on, but when I watched Tyler Oakley's "The GAYEST video EVER" - the idea came up about whether it was somebody's duty, particularly those in the public eye, to come out.

It was agreed that no, they didn't have any sort of obligation - although, Tyler suggested, if they didn't, it would be a missed opportunity. Do I agree? I can't decide. When I was really coming into my own with regards to my sexuality, I heavily related to Ellen Page when she said, "I felt like I was lying by omission" - I've talked about this before, but I doubt that we're alone in feeling like if we didn't explicitly tell people that we were gay, that was as good as lying. The more I thought about it, the more that I realised that actually - pretty much every public figure I could think of that identified as LGBTQA+, give or take a couple (that I think I could probably count on a single hand) had come out publicly.

Ellen Page Quote

I understand that, for children and teenagers like myself, who worry about whether they will be supported by friends, family and society alike - these people making their sexuality so public is a comfort, it helps us form some sort of normality in a public eye that was previously so based around heteronormality it left little room for anybody identifying in a different way. As sexuality develops, these people who have taken the step to come out in such a public way, allow a chance for society as a whole to develop our attitudes - and yet, isn't the idea that we still have to come out sort of going against that in the first place? It only goes to show that, as a society, we tend to favour the assumption that most people are heterosexual - given that people who don't fall on this point on the scale still feel the need to explicitly tell people for fear of being seen as underhand.

The fact is that in an ideal society, nobody should feel obligated to come out for, in an ideal society, it wouldn't be pushing against the idea of normal. I am not abnormal, and gone are the days of people being taught that there is little in between the realms of gay and straight - sexuality is a spectrum, I'm not always convinced that my point on it is definite, I find my sexuality has been fluid in the past - and I think that's probably the same for a lot of people. As helpful as it is to those struggling when Public Figures come out, they shouldn't feel obligated - nobody should, because it's time that we started making less of a deal about people's sexualities; maybe then we wouldn't have to feel like we were lying by omission if we didn't declare something, irregardless of whether or not we'd taken active steps to hide it.

What do you think?

Sammy xo.

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