I’m sorry to be so annoyed about this but I’m really tired of hearing that it doesn’t matter anymore whether or not your are gay. And to find an article by Paul Gallant in In Toronto magazine with just that theme (Open Closet Policy: Does coming out even matter anymore?) just makes me weary with frustration.
All the people that Paul mentions in his article are people I admire. But in each and every case, coming out has been, I would argue, a huge issue for them.
Gallant mentions Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Trevor Boris, Maggie Cassella, Ann- Marie MacDonald, Rick Mercer, and Kathleen Wynne – and though it’s hard to figure out exactly what he’s saying about most of them, his general conclusion is – if it mattered once whether or not you came out, it’s no big deal now.
I beg to disagree. I think it’s important to note that Rick Mercer, Ellen de Generes, and Anderson Cooper came out once their careers were established; and for good reason – they wanted to get a little respect before everyone made a big deal about their sexuality. Maggie Cassella and Ann- Marie MacDonald -- god bless them -- are beautiful, enormously talented, femme-looking white women. Maggie has always been very out, and Ann-Marie MacDonald is lesbian if anyone asks -- but frankly if you’re femme, white and beautiful nobody really wants to know. Trevor Boris is funny as hell. He is also out and effeminate and – well I don’t know how to tell him this – but as talented as he is, he is likely to be always known as one of Canada’s ‘gay comics.’
Kathleen Wynne is out and though she tries to look femme, her efforts lead her to resemble your high school gym teacher dressed up for prom (again, God bless you girlfriend -- but a string a pearls just isn’t going to do the trick!).
So much for it all not mattering.
All of these celebrities should be commended, not only for their achievements, but also for their coming out whenever they have done so -- early or late in their careers (or even just if someone asks!). But for anyone to assert that it hasn’t mattered whether or not they have come out or not, is just….well – that notion is filled with more bullshit than a post-video apology from Rob Ford.
Anyone who is not lying through their teeth knows it matters very much whether or not you are queer and whether or not you are out. Yes, in the western world (and only in the western world I might add) we have two things -- human rights and political correctness -- that help us to imagine that homophobia is over. But we all know that you can’t erase hate from the human heart. Human hypocrisy is rampant (again Rob Ford comes to mind) and the amount of acceptance we queers get from the straight community depends completely on
a) how gender regular we are
b) how little we talk about sex
In other words, if you’re a boy who looks and acts like a boy, or a girl who looks and acts like a girl, you will experience less homophobia than if you are not. And if you just never talk about sex -- ever -- straight people may manage to forget that you gobble knobs and/or munch carpet in your spare time.
So why do queers these days have so much invested in pretending no one cares whether or not they are straight or gay? It really makes me laugh to watch the new prototype of the respectable fag who thinks he’s ‘fitting in’ – um….skinny jeans, immaculately trimmed beard, funny glasses, and a bow tie? Hey, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you ain’t foolin’ nobody, no time, honey! And despite these futile efforts to look just like everyone else, straight men in most cases just don’t give a shit about that pot belly (why can’t I stop thinking about Rob Ford?).
But we gays care very much.
Truth be told, we really do.
So why the denial? The best I can do is to suggest that gay men -- like everyone -- want life to be nice. They think they can rid the world of homophobia by wishing it away. Well I don’t know how to tell you this, Dorothy, but all the wishing in the world will not, in actuality, get you home.
And in fact, the hours you spend dreaming that lies are true is valuable time wasted – time that could be used in trying to change the human hearts around you, by practicing complete honesty and timely disclosure of the full truth and nothing but (whether it makes straights queasy or not!).
Sorry Paul Gallant, but on this one I happen to think you are dead wrong.