Monday, November 19, 2012

"Openly gay". . .out?



Is it time to dump the term openly gay?


I'm not for sure that it's not nearing a time when we should ditch the phrase "openly gay," and in fact stop referring to sexual orientation altogether when we're talking about politicians and public figures.

Why is it relevant? What do we get out of knowing whether a candidate is gay or straight? Yet "openly gay" is a ubiquitous tag line. The media carefully use "openly" to signal they are not outing someone, deliberately or inadvertently.
Homophobia is still out there, in lame jokes, in both urban and rural settings, and in communities across a broad ethnic and religious spectrum and in political campaigns where it flares up in nasty ways. In fact, there may be a danger that no longer referring to a public person as "openly gay" could create an unwelcome return to the closet.

Most gay public figures are well aware of the pressure on them from within the LGBT community to be "out" role models who can offer comfort and reassurance to young people worried about coming out or even just appearing to be gay.

Last summer, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper publicly came out, at 45, stating, "In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted."

Knowing a public figure is gay can add to their lustre — it takes courage to be out in a predominantly straight world.  Yet the millennial generation, which will one day rule this world (so be nice to them), is quickly moving beyond noting or caring about gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, differences that their parents can't resist mentioning in casual conversation. Mom and Dad, your kids don't really give a damn if your stockbroker is gay, unless they are taught to hate and look at such matters.

In politics and in life, which can still remain two separate entities, the more people come into contact with someone who is gay — in their families, at work or socially — the less they "otherize" them.
Even in the American heartland, long-held prejudices fanned by the religious right are melting away. In last week's election, gay marriage initiatives passed in several states (although it's still constitutionally banned in 31) and Wisconsin voters elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator.

I loved her line when asked if she thought her presence in that august chamber would make a difference to gay rights: "If you're not in the room they talk about you, if you're in the room, they talk with you."

So is it still fair to proclaim someone is "openly gay?"  How important is a label?  Because of where I live and work, it is easier for me to make it a non-issue.  Some people think I am gay, some don't, but for my students, it's actually a non-issue.  It is not something I will discuss with them, now will I confirm whether I am or not, but kids are smarter than we think they are.

I do believe that we are not quite there where we will stop saying "openly gay," and that is because we do still need some openly gay role models.  People need to see that we are essentially no different from them. We just happen to have an attraction to someone of the same sex.  To which I say, "So what?"

14 comments:

J said...

Well said. I could care less whom someone sleeps with. Society should go back to the old tradition of keeping what goes on in their bedrooms private. It is significant only in the tabloid culture.

Gary Kelly said...

I guess expressions such as openly gay will go the way of most expressions that have lost their relevance and meaning. Popular usage will determine when it's time for that to happen.

JustinO'Shea said...

I have decided a while back that this, like others, is superfluous. . and more and more I am elimination the use of 'gay' as an adjective. ;-)

JustinO'Shea said...

ooopsss. . . eliminating. . . is the correct word. ;-)

JustinO'Shea said...

ooopsss. . . eliminating. . . is the correct word. ;-)

Coop said...

I read this on Closet Prof and it seems like "splitting hairs" as they say. Or, semantics.
Anderson Cooper is gay. He came out as such. All the famous people who choose to come out are "openly gay".
Whatever that means.

I agree with Justin. It (the term "openly gay") is superfluous. But then again what about the need for positive role models?. If no one identifies as "gay"... what does that say?

JustinO'Shea said...

I didn't say I do not identify as gay . . .oh well, we all lives our lives and hopefully enjoy them. Pity if we don't. . .what a waste! ;-)

Coop said...

if no one identifies Themselves as gay. Announces, tells others, etc. That's what I meant :-)

JustinO'Shea said...

Hey Bro. . .You know what? I don't really care what ANYbody does! LOL
They can hide in the closet till they are pale from lack of sun and total serotonin-deprived, they can dress like RuPaul and make bucks, or play "sweet 16" all their lives! yo ho ho

It is Thanksgiving. I escaped from Campus and the ivy halls of Academia and Med Crisis Centers and stud-ents.
I drove off Campus yesterday and I am HOME...HOME ON THE CAPE where the white sharks and the tourists all play. . . wHUUUAAAAAHHHHHHHH>
"Where never is heard...a discouraging word. . .and the skies are not cloudy all day. . .Home, home on The Dunesssssssss!!!
oxoxoxox
justino

Coop said...

The skies are cloudy/were cloudy here. Sun's supposed to come out.

...and if that song is stuck in my head till Christmas, I blame you. :b~~~

JustinO'Shea said...

Go ahead! Blame me. . .yo ho ho. .y'always do. . .and mostly correctly, , hahahaha

KUDOS on Topping The List. . more in an email. . . thatsa threat. . lol

Gary Kelly said...

Is there such a thing as being a closet straight?

GreginAdelaide said...

I don't think so Mr Kelly. ...it sounds like an oxymoron to me.

GreginAdelaide said...

(PS, G'day Coop)