Posted on: January 14, 2013
Last night Jodie Foster came out at the Golden Globe Awards.
This, of course is nothing new to the world and as she said in her speech, it’s nothing new to people who know her. She spoke from the heart, and in circles a bit, but she emphasized the need for privacy, the desire to keep her private life private and separate from her public persona.
I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her. To everyone she actually met. But now, apparently I’m told, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a primetime reality show. You guys might be surprised, but I’m not Honey Boo Boo child…
If you had been a public figure from the time you were a toddler, if you had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else.
Jodie’s heart-felt speech brought tears to the eyes of many of the celebrities in the room and I personally felt a bit choked up, it was truly beautiful. Over on Twitter, though, I got into a different sort of conversation. One of my followers and I chatted (in 140 characters or less) about my feeling that celebrities should always come out and her feeling that even though they’re celebrities, they don’t owe us anything.
Her thoughts were that celebrities don’t owe us intimate details of their lives, that family struggles around LGBTQ identity are real even for celebrities, and that celebrities like Jodie Foster make a name for themselves by their body of work, rather than their sexual orientation. My feelings are that in our celebrity-obsessed world where children aspire to be a Kardasian or an NBA player rather than a firefighter or the President of the United States, there’s a bit more responsibility there hasn’t been before. The shunning that happens to an actress or singer (looking at you, Queen) who is assumed to be gay or who comes out as gay isn’t as harsh as it is. Having the visibility matters, therefore the most visible people in our society owe it to us to come out.
We had the sort of conversation you can only have over Twitter where you listen to the other person’s opinion in earnest and hope that they hear you too. I didn’t walk away from it feeling angry or upset, but I did contemplate it all night. The follower said something that I keep turning over in my head. She said that the term “should” is a big word. And I agree with her.
In my opinion LGBTQ celebrities should come out in a public way, definitely in their own time (Ricky Martin, Jodie Foster), but that they should, nonetheless do it.
What do you think? Should LGBTQ celebrities come out? Do they owe it to the rest of us?