| CLAYTON WALTER
WHEN OSCAR-NOMINATED actress Ellen Page came out at an LGBTQ conference on Valentine’s Day, the internet exploded into its usual flurry of commentary, observations and overwrought think pieces. Whenever a celebrity of any stature – and especially when one as well-respected and well-liked as Page – comes out, it’s news, which irks some and thrills others.
There are a few typical responses one finds from the masses when a celebrity comes out. There are those who are quick to spout “I knew it,” thus, demonstrating a frustrating bit of arrogance that suggests sexual orientation can be determined by a stereotypical checklist. There are those who (hopefully) jokingly proclaim that they now have a chance to become romantically involved with said celebrity, while others mourn the loss of their prospective partner. I find this group adorable; so long as they aren’t tweeting in earnest. Yet the loudest group tends to be those who bemoan the fact that a celebrity coming out is “still considered news.”
I completely understand the sentiment, and in my musings on it, there have been times when I share it. People long for the day when being homosexual isn’t so much a mark of important difference as it is a casual distinction: a day when it no longer “matters.” But the world doesn’t work that way, and minorities likely always will (and probably should) celebrate the achievements of their communities.
Many would make a distinction between the news of someone coming out and, say, a member of the LGBTQ community being elected President of the United States. One has a historical, widespread impact, while the other is a personal matter. But what happens on a personal level can also speak to a larger context, a historical moment, a shift in a better direction.
Anyone coming out is cause for celebration. Any time someone feels confident, bold or happy enough to live in a more honest, open way; to claim a facet of him- or herself that was previously a carefully guarded secret; to let others know something that was previously unknown, is an amazing, newsworthy moment. Even if it’s only published on said person’s Facebook page.
So when a celebrity comes out, and provides an example of tolerance, love and self-acceptance, it’s an incredible bit of news that has the power to inspire downtrodden spirits and soften hard, hateful hearts. An A-list actress has a lot to lose, so to see Page proudly come out of the closet when, truly, there’s much at risk, is an exciting testament to a relatively new age of tolerance.
So long as anyone remains in the closet, scared at the outcry or rejection he or she might face upon coming out, any high-profile announcements that might provide a ray of hope are newsworthy in my eyes.
| Clayton Walter