As more and more actors, models, athletes, and other celebrities come out as some sort of LGBTQ, we’re starting to wonder if they even need to.
While two decades ago coming out as gay was still met with some harsh pushback, today’s Western societies see people coming out left and right with mostly praise and acknowledgment. Granted there are still countless problems for LGBTQ people today, but we're surely making progress.
That said, people still keep making a big deal of coming out, and it’s starting to feel draining for all of us. As an Instinct Contributor, it’s my job to share news that you guys would be interested in reading. Despite what some readers like to post in Facebook comments (yes, we read those) saying that they don’t care, our records show that if we write it you guys will click on it.
So, we live in this space where we both wish people didn’t have to come out because it shouldn’t be a big deal, and where we want to hear about people coming out because it’s such a big deal.
And so this brings up my main question, do celebrities still need to come out? And more specifically, do they still need to make a big deal of it?
What really brought all this to the forefront of my mind was the whole Kevin McHale situation. If you don’t know who or what that is,
good for you because the internet’s been covering it for a good month now, I’ll quickly bring you up to speed.
Kevin McHale is most commonly known for acting in the former tv show Glee. Last month, he posted a picture of himself holding what looked like another man’s hand on Instagram. While McHale wouldn’t elaborate on the post, many took it to be him openly addressing his sexuality and the fact that he was dating a man.
Then last week, McHale posted a second Instagram picture showing himself laying around with another man. Many took this as confirmation that he was dating fellow actor Austin McKenzie. Then just recently, McHale officially commented on his sexuality while talking about an Ariana Grande song.
When he posted the first two original pictures, I took it as his way of coming out without having to make a big show of it (of course, the internet did that anyway). I saw McHale’s act as the next stage in the coming out process.
Now that Western society is more accepting of LGBTQ life, maybe we don’t have to make a big deal of coming out. Maybe, we can just post a picture of us holding hands and just have that say it all.
That said, the tweet about Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left To Cry” seemed like his way of being more blunt about the topic. (Note: I take responsibility for getting my hopes up based off of an actor’s Instagram account).
But, that still leaves the question lingering in my mind. Do celebrities need to still come out? Do they need to make such a big and blatant deal of it? Because if they don’t, the everyday person doesn’t either.
Unfortunately, it seems that they do.
Just because society is more accepting doesn’t mean that it’s totally tolerant. People still get bullied, attacked, murdered, and worse (Hello, Hermione) for being openly LGBTQ. For instance, take openly gay politician Brian Sims who was called a “Lying homosexual” by one of his political peers. (Thankfully, he didn’t take the insult lying down).
Then going back to the celebrities angle, several openly LGBTQ celebrities have expressed that there is toxic treatment towards openly queer talent.
For instance, Wizarding World (the new Harry Potter movie brand name) and Justice League star Ezra Miller shared with the Shortlist last year that he was told not to come out of the closet by people in the business.
“I won’t specify,” he told them, “[But] I was told by a lot of people I’d made a mistake.
“Folks in the industry, folks outside of the industry. People I’ve never spoken to. They said there’s a reason so many gay, queer, gender-fluid people in Hollywood conceal their sexual identity, or their gender identity in their public image.”
“I was told I had done a 'silly' thing in… thwarting my own potential to be a leading man.”
And on the other end of the spectrum is British model and aspiring actor Zander Hodgson who says that he struggled with coming out because Hollywood is “not very welcoming to gay actors.”
“I don’t think there are many opportunities out there for gay men to play straight roles.”
This underline hostility in Hollywood doesn’t make being openly LGBTQ a great option for celebrities (aspiring or otherwise). And with Hollywood possibly being the most liberal place for artists and creators to work, that doesn’t bode well for non-straight talent.
So again, we find ourselves in a double space. Celebrities need to stay closeted to protect their careers, but they also need to come out in order to call out this homophobic hostility and act as representation for LGBTQ talent and citizens.
On top of that, we also have to consider the biggest reality of coming out. It’s up to the individual person on how and when to come out. Despite their position, celebrities still have the right to come out whenever and however they want to. We can’t force them to be subtler or make a bigger deal about it simply because we want it.
Ultimately, the goal is to one day have “coming out” become unnecessary. We want a day when a male celebrity can hold a man’s hand without it being a big deal. We want a day when confirming you’re in a same-sex relationship isn’t gossip worthy.
But, of course, we're human and we contradict ourselves. That's the goal we want; but, when people like McHale come out subtly like, we pester and bother for more concrete confirmations.
Maybe, we should just celebrate people coming out however they choose and then move on instead of making multiple big deals about it. That way, we can avoid another Aaron Carter situation, while also not pestering people who just want to state it and move on.
We’re on a journey towards total equality, and the coming out process will surely evolve along the way. While I'll cherish the time coming out was a big deal, that'll only make me appreciate the subtleties even more.
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.