Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I'm Comin' Out...

I told my parents I was gay when I was 17 years old. They accepted it and they moved on. They don't love that I'm gay, nor do they love me any less because of it, although while they've never said it out loud, I'm sure they'd prefer me not to be. This is fine, it is generally easier for straight people. I'm lucky, my being gay didn't affect my relationship with my parents at all, I had a positive coming out experience. Not everyone is as lucky as me.

Livin' La Vida Homo.

Ricky Martin came out as gay this week. Lovely. Good for him. For some reason, though, no one seems content with this. Seemingly it's a complete joke that he should say he's gay, he should have done it years ago, everyone already knew, it was totally obvious, he's having a laugh with us feeling the need to actually confirm it. What I don't understand is, why should someone 'flamboyant' not get the same respect as someone whose sexuality is more easily concealed? Have they not been through the same process? Are they not on the same journey?

There is nothing subtle about me or my sexuality. It has been noted that my homosexuality can be seen from space. It is a regular source of jokes and merriment. I never felt the need to hide my sexuality because I was never really uncomfortable enough with it for it to really be an issue. Again, I'm lucky in that respect. A lot of gay people talk about the self-loathing and anger they felt during the coming out period which, admittedly, I had my fair share of, just never enough to deny who I was. Again, some people are not as lucky as me. Some people feel the need to deny themselves for whatever reason. They are scared of peoples' reactions, they are ashamed of what they are or, in some cases, they don't feel that what goes on in the bedroom is anyone else's business. The bottom line, of course, is that it is no one's business. It's sad that we, as a 2010 society, feel the need to know everything about everyone. Whatever the reason, if someone chooses not to acknowledge their sexual preference then that is their business and no one else should judge that.

If we look at Ricky Martin's background, he is a Puerto Rican born in 1971 and raised by his Catholic mother who prompted him to be an altar boy at his church. He might have broken his way into show business when he was still young, but it doesn't sound to me like homosexuality is likely to have been a lifestyle that was promoted during his childhood years. Ricky Martin is not a celebrity I really know a lot about, so I can't tell you anything that his Wikipedia page can't, but coming out presumably was not easier for him, he's denied himself several times in past interviews which, as a gay man myself, I know can not have been easy for him. Personally, I think that all the people on YouTube and Twitter bitching that "he should have come out sooner rather than denying himself" or "he should have come out while he was still relevant" or whatever need to have a word with themselves. He didn't have to come out at all, we don't know how hard the journey's been for him to get to where he is now, why don't people get off his back and stop judging?

The same thing happened when Joe McElderry won The X Factor. Without any acknowledgement either way of his sexuality, people had just guessed on their own that Joe was gay. This is a fair enough assumption to make, I would say. The day after he won The X Factor, though, he told The Sun newspaper that he was straight, and that was that. Apparently though, that was not that and gays everywhere threw their toys out of the pram. Joe was denying who he was, Joe was putting forward the idea that being gay was something to be ashamed of, Joe was turning his back on the gay people that had made him a winner. Here's a thought: what if Joe just genuinely isn't gay and no amount of bitching is going to make him gay? What if Joe's declaration that he was straight was his way of coming out? And so what if Joe is gay, maybe just isn't ready to tell the world yet. The lad is only 18 years old, why should he be forced to make an announcement that will stick with him for life just to make other people happy?

And so, my point is that yes you may well have twigged on your own that Ricky Martin was gay, even before he said it himself. And perhaps Joe McElderry is gay. Perhaps he is not. Coming out is not as easy as the Diana Ross song made it seem, and no one should ever feel pressurised into doing it, or not doing it. If you're ready to come out-- good for you. Be brave, keep your chin up and just do it. And if you're not ready, that's fine too. When it comes down to it, no one has the right to criticise anyone's choices regarding the coming out process. Just because someone is flamboyant or has obvious gay characteristics doesn't mean they are any more comfortable with their sexuality than someone who can be more subtle, and a little sensitivity could really go a long way.

And with that, I am getting off my soap box. Feel free to go about your business.

No comments:

Post a Comment