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Monday, July 2, 2012

Come Out Lately?

So have you heard the news? The American journalist, celebrity (and hottie) has finally come out and said "Yeah, I'm gay - so what?"

It's not really a big surprise; as they used to say, he was dropping hairpins all over the place. He wasn't really all that "in".

But he'd never stood up before and said "Yeah, I love men, and... ? "

So now he's out. And that's good.

I admit, I had a little snarky moment, thinking "Oh gee, you took your time! Wait till it's easy! " but that's not all that productive and coming out is something that people do at their own pace. I am always a bit conflicted on big names when they come out - couldn't they have done more, earlier? But it's up to them. So long as they haven't been active hypocrites working against us.

There are  prominent gay men who work desperately to hide any suggestion that they are queer, they hate themselves so much that they will do anything to cover it up - even if they're sucking cock every chance they get to be away from their wives and families. Cooper wasn't like that, and for me that makes a difference - he hasn't been hiding, he just didn't stand up and say it till now.

It's when you know people are lying that it makes it all so bad.

Some gay friends have been "So? Why bother" but coming out does still matter - I believe that passionately.

Why should we live half a life? Why should we have to hide who we are? Because a life in the closet is a life that is a lie. It's a lie to yourself and those you love.

Coming out gives us visibility, it shows that , as the old slogan said "We Are Everywhere". And that is important.

I can remember as a young scared homo in the 70s being almost desperate to hear any news of any openly gay men in the world. I knew, but didn't really care about all the "Michaelangelo, Socrates, Oscar Wilde" famous men of old. I wanted to see men of my time who were out and successful and happy.

Rumours flew wildly about all sorts of celebrities, and even though now it seems comical at the time just trying to find any positive and openly gay men was impossible, so often it was singers, actors and other celebrities who got the label, whether they deserved it or not. And for some reason playing at male bisexuality was trendy for a bit in the 70s - think of early Bowie.

He didn't exactly look or act so straight back then, did he? So I bought every one of his albums I could find. I was trying, in some way, to learn how to be gay.

I guess the point is that for me, I felt so alone, so isolated. I knew there were other poofters around, I'd met my mum's hairdresser after all,  but nobody ever talked of them in a positive way.

They were shown as sad perverts, or jokes, doomed to loneliness, alcoholism and suicide.

And think of all the reactions to those rumours ! Scandal! Horror! Why the fuck should it matter? But it did and it still does.

The sense I had was that being gay was a terrible, evil secret  - something that must be hidden at all costs.

We were effectively de-humanised. We were seen as dirty, broken, unworthy and criminal.

So the obsession with "Did you hear the rumour about X?"  is understandable, and it continues.

It was so hard to find any positive, ordinary picture of a happy gay man - shit what am I saying? It wasn't just hard - it was impossible!

I can still remember being amazed at 17 and meeting two guys in their mid 20s who were living together, out, happy, with balanced lives. This was literally the first time I'd realised that this might be an option for my life.

Things are so much better than they were, but the wider-world is still not a welcoming friendly place for us. It's not uncommon to hear "Yes that's fine you're gay, but let's not talk about it at work/at school/in the rugby team." That message actually pushes us back into the closet, and tells us that in fact it's not ok to be gay.

As a community, old, middle-aged, young, we need to see ourselves mirrored in the wider world we live in. We need to be seen as part of the ordinary fabric of society, because that is what we are.

Coming out never really stops - it's a constant process. But the more it happens the better for us all.






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