Every day gay men and women are busting out of the closet (some slink out, not wanting much fuss at all), coming out to friends and family around the world. For an LGBTQ individual, it can be one of the most frightening but also most affirming days of their life.
As I said, this happens every day around the world, and it is usually something that occurs with family upset and tears, and usually but not always reconciliation, but almost mostly in private. However, in the world of the celebrity nothing happens in a private way between family and friends. Everything takes place in the public domain, either because of scrupulous papparazi, moments of Twitter rage or complete and utter honesty.
As you probably know, Odd Future singer Frank Ocean came out, or at least admitted being in love with a man, by way of a beautifully worded open letter on his tumblr. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate him. Whether he is indeed gay or just held a singular torch for a man, he deserves congratulations.
However, I do get slightly frustrated with celebrity coming out stories. Why is this news when gay teen suicide is was at an all time high in 2010, with gay teens and young adults, heck, even proper ‘grown ups’, still taking their lives? Why do we still discuss this like it’s ‘a thing’? I suppose it is a rite of passage. I don’t know. I came out to my foster parents at a service station outside of Birmingham, and my foster parents were so okay with it, it felt so anti-climatic I wasn’t sure I’d actually won their acceptance. My foster dad just shrugged and grunted. I do wish people would stop saying things like ‘gay footballer’ and ‘gay actor’ though. I guess now Frank Ocean is going to be ‘that gay rapper’.
With London Pride just around the corner, this whole episode got me thinking, as it does about my own sexuality every year. I’m not ‘proud’ proud, but I have no problem telling you or anyone else that asks I’m gay. The fact that we still have to have a pride gets on my nerves a bit; the fact that we have to have this day set aside just for us just to remind people that we still don’t have equal rights in many countries around the world. But I digress.
1 in 6 British kids still experience physical bullying due to their sexual orientation. You’d think after all the bleeting people do, all of the gay people on TV, kids might grow up with a little more tolerance that some of the people my own age fail to demonstrate. Just as Frank says in the post leading up to his letter, ‘my hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did’.
In the world of celebrity, genuine role models are hard to come by, with MTV saturated with the Snookis of the world. Coming out in the incredibly intolerant rap music industry is a bold move, while stupid phrases like ‘no homo’ still punctuate rap singles even now. But I’m sure everyone that isn’t an egit is totally behind Frank. He has an interesting time ahead of him. Will he be a role model? Maybe, maybe not. Is his music any less or more meaningful now that you know he’s been in love with a man? Absolutely not. So let’s shut up and stop talking, and just listen.