James Holmes

When Public Figures Come Out & the World Doesn't End

Filed By James Holmes | July 05, 2012 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Anderson Cooper, celebrity gossip, coming out of the closet, Frank Ocean, Public-Figures, Sexual Freedom, Stereotyping

Frank-Ocean.jpgIn the wake of Anderson Cooper, another public figure has taken the brave step forward. R&B Singer Frank Ocean of the group Odd Future came out on his Tumblr page on Tuesday.

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.

Ocean, whose debut album "Channel Orange" comes out later this month, joins a growing number of entertainers, journalists, and public figures who are coming-out with a huge outpouring of support - rather than the old school scandal and backlash.

My post about Anderson Cooper's recent coming out received some negative comments accusing me of making light of the coming-out process. No jokes were intended to offend but were made to show a change in pop culture that should be celebrated - it's no longer a big deal for celebrities to be gay. Sadly that does not hold true to many of the people out of the public eye, but it is slowly changing as well - and people like Cooper and Ocean are some of the people making that possible.

That is not to imply that coming-out is ever an easy process. Readers - please do not forget that I had to take that step at more than one point in my life (yes folks, I'm gay). Almost 10 years ago a very scared 18 year-old in a tiny conservative town in Missouri broke down and told his mom that he had a boyfriend. It was terrifying, and would be so even today. It is never easy, and to do it publicly is beyond my imagination.

Even if the public response - which I have seen more for Cooper than Ocean - is that no one was surprised, that's no different than my mom when she said she already knew and had since I was a child. That didn't make it any less panic-attack inducing.

Is that making assumptions, as some commenters pointed out? Yes - but those assumptions were based on the fact that Cooper had been semi-out for years and never openly denied it. I never implied he had dancing unicorns or wore sequined ties on his show - I just mean he had a boyfriend he didn't try to hide. No stereotyping there unless you consider men dating men a gay stereotype - I just call it a reality.

And a final comment: on our Facebook Timeline, the question that accompanied the Anderson Cooper post was, "Now the only question that remains: Top of Bottom?" I am sorry if sexual positions offend - and I can see where you may read that as making light of the situation, but it is a comment on the ho-hum response to his coming out - and I know I wasn't the only one thinking that.

However, one commenter suggested that a question like that is only providing fodder for the crazies out there that think we should not be around children, among other things - and that it reinforces the idea that being gay is all about sex. We clearly differ philosophically here. Sorry - but sex is in the name.

The fight for gay rights is also a fight for sexual freedom - and what makes you gay, by definition, is who you are sexually attracted to. I do not believe neutering ourselves to assimilate and appease the hetero-normative majority helps our cause in any way. I am gay, I have sex with men - and it all starts with that.

If the fundies out there want to complain - they are going to anyway. Seeing as sex outside of marriage is one of their main sticking points for gays and straights alike, we are kinda fucked to begin with. So if I want to ask how you prefer to take it, just know they are thinking it too.

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