With each new day another celebrity springs from the closet and into the gay spotlight. Just recently, Zachary Quinto, of “Star Trek” and “Heroes fame,” outed himself as a gay man in an interview with New York Magazine.
Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide spurred his sudden decision to put himself into the gay spotlight. Rodmeyer had just started high school and believed things would get better because of it. At least that’s what he told is parents who didn’t know that their son ran a private Tumblr blog comprised of various calls for help. Rodemeyer took his life on Oct. 18 outside his Williamsville, N.Y. home.
In the wake of the 14-year-old’s suicide, Quinto took to his website, where he wrote that he realized that “living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.” In our celebrity-fueled society, the pressure for stars to come out has increased.
Many public figures have extended their support in response to the many senseless suicides of LGBTQ teenagers. President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, Chris Colfer, Anne Hathaway and Zachary Quinto are just a few among the many public figures who contributed videos for the It Gets Better Project, a project created by Dan Savage and his husband Terry. The project aims to help LGBTQ teens cope with bullying and acts as an anti-bullying message to everyone. But does a celebrity have to outright say, “I’m gay” to make an impact? Does an It Gets Better video mean more coming from a celebrity who is out of the closet?
Some would argue that a celebrity’s coming out isn’t as shocking as it was pre-Neil Patrick Harris. Last year, The New York Times published an article stating that coming out has “lost some of its potency.” They pointed to writer Eric Marcus, who said that “the assumption among gay people that if only this famous person came out, things would be better — and that’s never been the case.” Marcus goes on to say that it is the individual that changes a person’s mind, rather than the name in lights.
While this is mostly true, what about the gay teens who are completely isolated from the LGBTQ community? A celebrity is a familiar face that’s telling them it’s OK to be who they are. Whether they like it or not, celebrities are considered role models and idols, especially to impressionable teenagers. It is ridiculous to say that their opinions don’t inspire or make a difference.
Zachary Quinto came out on his own terms and did it because he realized that his declaration really did help people. By no means is this saying that if you are a celebrity, you have to come out. Celebrities deserve the same amount of respect and privacy as anyone else.
For celebrities, it isn’t coming out that is important, it’s the work they do within the LGBTQ community. It’s not about being gay or not, it’s about making the decision to become a public figure for the gay community. Coming out is secondary, the important thing is supporting those within the community you’re apart of, whether you publicly acknowledge or not.
Stand up for what you believe in. Offer support to those who have none. Your voice can help it get better.