Why Do Gay/Non-Heterosexual People Need To ‘Come Out’ Publicly? By Cheryl Roberts

19 Jan

 Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech of an illustrious award at the Golden Globe Awards has been welcomed by some as her ‘coming out’ speech.

Okay, there were the rumours over the years, that Jodie Foster wasn’t heterosexual, that she was gay. They were just rumours. Jodie herself hadn’t publicly admitted or acknowledged that she was not sexually interested in men.

There’s much pressure from society on well-known, public, highly achieving, successful people to admit publicly they don’t subscribe to a heterosexual way of life or lifestyle. These demands become more rampant when there’s a slight indication or rumour or scandal that the person may be gay, like hanging out too much with the same gender and not being in a heterosexual marriage.

For those who prefer or welcome coming out announcements, especially by the high-profile, public person, it’s because it gives ‘acceptance’ that not everyone accepts a heterosexual society. It also demonstrates that heterosexism has no right to claim ownership of sexuality as being the only sexuality.

And, quite honestly, it’s just way too cool to let society know that so and so high profiles are gay. It’s like ‘F-your heterosexism’.

I am urged to ask and try to answer why must non-heterosexual people announce their ‘coming out”; after all society doesn’t demand this of heterosexuals to declare their sexuality or sexual preference.

It has irked me for a long time that an emphasis is placed on non-heterosexuals making public their sexual preference/choices/sexuality.

Why do you announce you’re coming out? That you are gay? That you are having same gender sexual relations and relationships? Why should society and the public know when you don’t have the right to their coming out announcement?

It’s the same with sports people: that instance when there’s a hint or rumour that the person is non-heterosexual or gay, then they must announce publicly and admit they are gay, as if you owe that explanation to heterosexual society.

And then, when you have publicly come out, you are referred to as a gay actress, gay writer, gay film-maker, gay activist, gay sportswoman/sportsman. But the non-gay so and so is never labeled as the heterosexual whatever.

Years back, instead of focusing on the spectacular prowess of tennis legends, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, there was much media and small-minded people pressure on both tennis players to admit publicly they are non-heterosexual/gay.

And, once they did, society’s rumour mongering stopped. Now it was in their face with Billie Jean King and Navratilova saying comfortably and confidently ‘I don’t subscribe to or accept heterosexuality’.

I’m sure there’s a sigh of relief once the rumours are buried and the public/society acknowledgement is done. So it’s out there. No more scandaling and wondering. You have heard from the person whom you rumoured about.

I’m also irked by this coming out because I marvel at the personal sexual acknowledgement of teenagers and young adults particularly. No public coming out announcements from them, especially in this digital era of social media. They just appear in society, within family, school, family and social circles as they want to. Same gender loving people place it on social media accounts who they in a relationship with and interested in, upload photo’s on social media, display affections openly and publicly and that for them is how official who they are. That may be perceived as their ‘coming out’.

But why the emphasis on coming out and why do some non-heterosexuals particularly, just love when another has come out publicly. Perhaps publicly coming out for those who do this is to give a thumbs up to non-heterosexual non-gender conformity, to same gender loving, being who and what you are.  

 I guess what I’m really interested in knowing is why should non-heterosexual people have to be pressurized to publicly acknowledge anything to do with their sexuality. After all, heterosexuals don’t face this pressure.

I’m not saying people should not ‘announce’ their coming out and I definitely have no right to say it’s wrong. I’m asking why succumb to the pressure? Or is it not a matter of succumbing, but just throwing it out there and letting it be known whatever your sexuality.

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