Yep, Ellen is gay

Ellen Page is out.

She has received a lot of news coverage for coming out in a speech she gave at a Human Rights Campaign Foundation event Time To Thrive, in support of LGBT youth. Most of it was positive.

However, some of the response to the coverage of her coming out hasn’t been. “I don’t care who she sleeps with,” “she should keep her private life private,” or “why is she making a big deal about this?”

She didn’t. The media did.

News media took that particular part of her speech and it became the focus of the story. After all, news is meant to present new information that has some sort of an attraction point. In this case, it’s a celebrity who was previously thought to be straight but who actually isn’t.

There seems to be a double standard from the people who question why the LGBT population has to ‘come out’, or draw attention to “who they sleep with.” Yet, how many times have public figures acknowledged in some minuscule way an opposite-gender partner and received criticism that they are making their private life public? It doesn’t happen.

When a celebrity or politician who happens to be gay mentions a same-gender partner, suddenly they are accused of pushing their homosexuality in people’s faces or making their personal lives public.

“I don’t care if someone is gay but they should keep it to themselves.”

They insist they don’t care – but they do.

If they actually didn’t care, they wouldn’t take the time to voice their opinions via social media, news comment sections, or in water-cooler small-talk. No. These people care and they’re commenting about it because, in some small way, they’re bothered.

Personally, I don’t care when a celebrity comes out of the closet. Not in the sense that I don’t think it’s important for people to allow themselves to be open and true to who they are. In my head, I’m applauding them for making that step to free themselves publicly. For anyone who ‘comes out’, it’s invigorating. Energizing. It’s a relief. The hiding is over.

These announcements, when made, are a public sign of self-acceptance. A request-and-grant for permission to no longer have to hide things like who one’s partner is, for example. A hope that nothing changes for the worse now that “everyone knows”.

But to me, it shouldn’t be necessary. No more necessary than having to reveal you’re actually left-handed or “yes. I’m a red-head.”

Realistically, though, I know there are places in the world, and even here close to come, where being gay and open about it is taking a risk. Even if and when laws are in place to protect gay rights, it still takes time for people to catch up. Too much time.

So should celebrities stop ‘coming out’? I suspect that many of them who have gotten news coverage for it haven’t actually ‘come out’ in the usual sense. When a perceived-straight celebrity shows up in public on a date with someone of the same gender, or casually mentions something that reveals they are gay, it becomes the focus and then, the news story. Thus, that date or passing comment is translated into headlines that read “X comes out” or “Y is gay!”

So while many have commended the coverage of Ellen Page’s “announcement” as beneficial to the gay community and its ongoing fight to be perceived as “normal”, we know the media just loves good gossip. But despite that intention, the coverage can still, in the meantime, serve the LGBT youth who can see that there is another high-respected public figure who is like them and isn’t ashamed of it.

There is power and inspiration in numbers.

Needless to say, it’s probably impossible to be ‘out’ without actually taking the one-time step to “come out” until people stop treating it like it’s an anomaly. Inspirational? Sure. Brave? Yeah. But when we see celebrities who can “out themselves” without making headlines and receiving subsequent attention from the media, commentators and the general public, I think that would be much more inspirational and encouraging for LGBT youth.

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