Why gay celebrities should be Out.

I’m a bit late on the old Ellen Page Gay Out bandwagon, but an interesting in-car conversation today had me thinking and compelled me to write.  It made me consider the importance of gay celebrities being Out. I understand the importance of a private life, of course. And that right, that private life should be just that, extends to sexuality and being Out should definitely be a persons choice. It is not up to the media to speculate on the matter.  That being said, if I was a celebrity or a lesbian (well, I am ticking half the boxes), I would be as gay and as out and as proud as the day is long.

I’m not a celebrity, though, but if I was.
This all came about, as we listened to Chloe Howl, a female solo artist who I think is set for big things in 2014. And I say “big things” with absolutely no qualification, other than I think I might ‘star’ her album on Spotify. Her catchy songs include lyrics like “You don’t even know if I’m the right sex do you?” and I wondered if she was addressing another woman. I liked Howl before I considered her sexuality. I liked her sound and I like her look, she’s different. She has red, cropped hair and has he kind of style that makes me think she doesn’t really give a fuck if she fits in with what a pop star should look like. She’s cool.

(c) The Guardian, all rights reserved


So between her look and her lyrics, my girlfriend and I speculated on her sexuality. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t particularly matter. But I like to know.
A quick Google tells me she isn’t a lesbian, which I don’t think will stop her becoming somewhat a lesbian icon in the coming months, if not simply for the fact that a lot of girls are going to think she’s hot. And I think I’m qualified to say.  Apparently the line I referred to above is aimed at an ex-boyfriend.
So, back to Ellen Page, who came out after much speculation for many years, last month.  She came out to the world in a speech that has been viewed over a million times on You Tube. 
It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing—at least in some sense—an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard….

I’m here today because I am gay. And because… maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”

It makes perfect sense. And it must have taken an incredible amount of courage. She knew that in making this speech she was changing her life, possibly changing her career but most importantly changing things for someone in the world who was going through a tough time coming to terms with their sexuality and coming out.

Tom Daley also did something incredibly brave in recent months. He came out to the world. And in doing so he faced a lot of negativity, but also a lot of positivity. Watch his inspiring coming out video here: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OJwJnoB9EKw
(c) The mirror. Tom Daley and his boyfriend.
I think it’s important to be strong about your sexuality- whatever that might be- particularly if you are in the public eye.
But why, why does it matter at all?
I’ll tell you why. Because it’s important that people in the public eye show those that aren’t that it’s okay.  It’s just as okay to be gay as it is to be straight or to be bisexual. It’s okay to be transgender. It’s okay not to be sure yet. It’s okay to be sure about one thing now and not be as sure in a years time. 
In the past I’ve read in Diva magazine that certain celebrity agents don’t wish for their acts to be on the front as they don’t want to “pigeonhole” the stars. They don’t want them seeming too gay. Why? I suspect that they worry that it will restrict the types of people who want to be fans of that person, go to their gigs, buy their merchandise.
Maybe in some ways. But why would you want homophobes at your acts gig, anyway? 
Lucy Spraggan is famously Out. At her gig in Leeds in October 2013 she told of the stories that her songs were born from. The experiences that had shaped her. Loves that she’d had. A fling one summer in America with an older woman. And yes, there was lesbians there. There was also parents with pre-teens, straight couples, men. All sorts of different people. 
In a world where your sexuality might affect your popularity in show business, it would be easy to forgive those who don’t make their sexuality public. But how sad that they feel they can’t share their love with the world. 
Away from celebrities, gay teenagers are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Five times. Coming out I was incredibly lucky, but others aren’t. Their parents may not accept or understand, thinking it’s a choice that their child has made. Unkind comments or even physical violence because someone is gay, sadly, still exists in 2014. And at a time when it can be difficult to understand your own feelings, it must be impossible to understand the hostility some people are unfortunate enough to face Coming out.
But a celebrity might just be able to give someone the courage to Come Out. It might mean that they realise that it is okay. And that’s why I think it’s so important for gay celebrities to be out and to be proud of who they are. So that others can see that it is okay and that they too, will be okay,
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