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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 silver platter.
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."