Responsibility and Coming Out

I think that the responsibilities that come with celebrities coming out are two-fold. I think that to an extent it is important to have role models in the media for queer people to look up to, however, I would never want someone to come out who wasn’t ready. The part of responsibility I’d like to focus on though is for society in general. I think that in the case of Tom Daley who “came out” today, it’s the responsibility of the public to accept things as they are and not place people into categories unnecessarily. It seems unfair that though Tom Daley said that he has always been attracted to women and is happy dating a man now, that people have found it okay to throw the gay or bisexual label on him, especially the former more so than the latter. In “Assimilating the Queers”, Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai writes “Male bisexuality signifies confusion and a denial phase for gay men—ultimately posing a threat to patriarchy and heteronormativity.” Therefore, it makes sense that gay men especially would be quick to erase the possibility of Tom Daley’s bisexual identity. It’s also interesting how once he “came out” many people were quick to forget about him as a person and more as an object of desire (ie. gay men rejoicing over having another option and straight women mourning their “loss”.) Ultimately, the responsibility of society is to start accepting things as they are. If a man says he’s dating a man and that he’s happy, then leave it at that. There’s no need to unnecessarily categorize people who don’t want to be categorized.

Tsai, W. S. (2010) Assimilating the queers: Representations of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people in mainstream advertising. Advertising & Society Review, 11(1).

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One thought on “Responsibility and Coming Out

  1. kcars94

    I could not agree with you more. In light of Maria Bello’s recent “coming out” as well — we have seen a lot of celebrities announcing a sort of sexual fluidity of late, which I think is great. It just pains me to see as soon as these announcements are made, people are so quick to slap a label on the person’s sexuality.

    Maria Bello, similarly to Tom Daley, had a relatively heterosexual dating past but is now in a relationship with a woman, but does not at any point call herself gay or bisexual. In her piece for the New York Times she talks about how she sees herself as having many “partners” in life, both sexual and non-sexual, and doesn’t see the reason to categorize everything so much.

    There is also Cynthia Nixon (“out” since 2004), who self-identifies as “queer by choice.” She is now with a woman, but has also dated men. She has spoken about how she sees herself as bisexual, but in picking a self-label she said she’d rather align with a “queer” or “lesbian” label to be closer to the LGBTQ community and movements (which probably says something about bisexuality erasure within the community as well).

    Now that much of our generation (not all, but a fair percentage) has come to accept homosexuality, one of the new challenges we face is accepting everyone’s right to identify their sexuality themselves (among many other things).

    Reply

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