Coming Out: How Out Celebs Have Changed Society
We live in a heteronormative society. Strangers we see on the street or people we don't know the sexual history of and even relatives we assume are heterosexual. When two members of the same gender are sitting together in a cafe talking we assume they are just friends. It doesn't occur to us that for all we know they may be on a first date. When public figures come out it publicizes the reality that the heteronormative isn't reality.
Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997. Her coming out was both controversial and beneficial. She lost the respect of many homophobic fans; however, she gained a lot of recognition in the LGBT community. Her coming out inspired more people to come out which made the community more visible. In response to the negative reactions to her sexual orientation, Ellen chooses humor as she had before she came out. Humor is her commentary on society.
"Really, he called me that? Ellen Degenerate? I've been getting that since the fourth grade. I guess I'm happy I could give him work."
Ellen DeGeneres, when told Jerry Falwell called her 'Ellen Degenerate' after she came out.
Jodie Foster came out at the Golden Globes in 2013. Although she used the phrase "I'm single" the message was heard. Some critics argue she wasn't coming out; however, she has had at least two relationships with women. In 2008, she broke up with her longtime partner, Cydney Bernard and, this year, she was married to Alexandria Hedison in April.
"I'm just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So, I'm going to need your support on this. I am, uh, single."
Jodie Foster, The Golden Globes
Ellen Page came out on February. 14th (Valentine's Day), 2014. It took her a long time to finally come out because there are still so many fears faced by LGBT when they do come out. Thankfully, each time another person comes out it helps another person do the same.
"I knew that I was going to feel better and I did not anticipate just how happy I would feel in just every aspect of my life..."
Ellen Page, The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Olivia Thirlby came out as bisexual in 2013. She came out before her Juno co-star Ellen Page. She is involved with the iO Tillett Wright Self-Evident Truths Project where photographs are taken of LGBT members to promote civil rights and shows those who are "anything but 100 percent straight." The project is to showcase that there are a lot of LGBT people in the world who need to be heard and recognized. Society is still convinced most people are straight. This project helps to erase that assumption.
"For me personally, it’s important to be a part of this because I feel it’s a way of me showing gratitude that I live surrounded by a community in which I don’t have to hide my sexual orientation. And no one should have to hide their sexual orientation."
Olivia Thirlby, Brooklyn Magazine
- Olivia Thirlby on being bisexual and participating in "Self-Evident Truths" - Afte
The actress shares her thoughts on not being in the closet in Hollywood.
In a discussion, Wilson Cruz talks about the pros and cons of coming out as a famous person. He explains how it can be freeing for the person who comes out, but they have to deal with a lot from other people, including the agents. Personally, he chose to come out because he felt an internal need. So, he believes the choice should be up to the person, and if they are ready to deal with the controversy that comes with it.
"You can't do it because you want to be a hero to other people...that feeling is going to go away after about six months...but then you're going to be left with whatever is left. You have to do it for you and for the people you love."
Wilson Cruz, "The Glass Closet: In and Out in Hollywood and Washington."
Out celebrities help the public accept non-heterosexuality because they are likely to already have the love of a fan who is currently homophobic. Sometimes, it causes that fan to stop liking the celebrity, but sometimes it changes their mind to be more accepting because they hadn't previously seen that celebrity as just a non-heterosexual. LGBT members do not want to be thought of as just LGBT. Ultimately, coming out helps society acknowledge that we assume everyone is heterosexual. When the reality is made public, society will hopefully be inspired to stop assuming everyone they know is straight.
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