Lance is gay. Yawn. Next. He comes out when his career is
effectively over. I see another George Michael in
the making, quite frankly.
This reaction was
posted by a reader to a popular gay blog after
ex-'N Syncer Lance Bass came out in
July. Many queers dismissed the pop star's leap
from the closet as belated and unimportant, some lowering
themselves to nasty name-calling.
What a great way
to welcome Lance into the fresh air of truth. It really
makes other closeted gay celebs want to come out.
When Lance or
Rosie or Jim McGreevey put it all out there, they suddenly
find all our hopes and fears pinned to their
lapel--and our residual anger dumped on their
heads. We seem to forget that how they did it or whom
they did it with is much less important than the simple fact
that they did it.
The risks of
coming out are depressingly high for entertainers, athletes,
and politicians--people whose careers depend on wide
public adoration. In recent weeks Rupert Everett has
been widely quoted blasting Hollywood for denying him
roles because he's out, and he noted that reformed
hooker-fan Hugh Grant is handed movie after movie on a
Coming out to
your nana and coming out to America are two very different
things. If Grammy doesn't like queers, you may have
to give up her deviled eggs, but it's doubtful
family members will trash you online as a
"retard" who is "making us look
bad," as has been done to Lance. Remember the
immeasurable bitterness Rosie endured? Her unforgivable sins
were that her hair looked too butch and she once said
that she liked Tom Cruise. Rosie's response? To
sink millions of her own dollars into a cruise line
for gay families.
Who needs openly
gay public figures well into their careers? Only all of
us. The good done by Elton, Melissa, Barney, k.d., Ellen,
Nathan, Martina, Jim, and so many others so far
outweighs quibbles about their timing that naysayers
trashing Lance--or Miss Cleo--should be ashamed.
As a practical
matter, support will encourage more celebs to drop the
act. As a moral matter, we should never point our fingers
accusingly at people whose lives are simply
unimaginably different from our own. As Harper Lee
wrote in her enduring classic, To Kill a Mockingbird,
you can't understand someone until you "climb
inside of his skin and walk around in it."