Tom Daley, Maria Bello, and Jodie Foster all have one thing in common: they came out to the world and announced their LGBT status this year. While for the most part, these actions garnered positive responses, not everyone was cheerful of the revelation. Oftentimes, it’s met with a wave of apathy with many readers simply scoffing it off with quotes like, “Duh” or “I guess he wants a cookie or something.” The ever-occurring ‘coming out’ story is one that keeps coming up for a number of reasons, mostly personal, but the reason it stays news and why it is and should be important is very basic.
Like MLK, Jr. once said to Nichelle Nichols when she was considering leaving Star Trek all those years ago, IT’S ABOUT REPRESENTATION.
It is a biological, inherent instinct to want to fit in. To be in a group means to survive and to be alone means certain death. So, it’s no wonder why we strive to maintain normalcy. To be the other, the outcast means you don’t survive. It is important for a young child to feel connected, to feel some sense of togetherness or inclusion to the world about them. But it’s a fact that 90% of LGBT youth suffer from harassment in their school environments. They don’t feel safe, they feel isolated and left without connections, they are left vulnerable and alone. It’s important to present a beacon to guide children to the light at the end of the dark, cold, treacherous tunnel. Just to see someone like you represented on a societal scale imprints you with a sense of belonging, of understanding, of self-importance, but most importantly, of pride. It means that someone out there somewhere understands you and what you are going through. That’s why we see new mannequins built in a magnitude of images, that’s why we beg for inclusivity on our TV screens, that’s why we demand diversity in the workplace.
And with statistics like these, it’s more important than ever to see people with power step forward.
As LGBT people still face persecution, it’s a breath of fresh air to see the multi-faceted wave of success
And it creates understanding and tolerance for non-LGBT persons.
With every new celebrity coming out story, comes another person added to the ranks, another model, example, another someone like you for the LBGT community. But for each new celebrity that comes out, comes another stereotype busted, another bigot to reconsider what they thought about LGBT people before, another homophobe learns something, another example of how different we are even within our LGBTness: BECAUSE THE STORY IS EVERYWHERE. We need that other level of inclusion and normalcy, or at the very least should appreciate it.
I, too, pray for the day when someone’s sexuality is not news. But say what you will about coming out stories, they are here to stay and are vital in the current climate we live in.