(Apart from stunning good looks and singing ability).
2012 seems to be the “year of coming out” for some reason. I’m not exactly sure why that’s so, but I’m happy to run with it.
So far, we’ve seen the likes of Magda Szubanski, Queen Latifah, and Anderson Cooper come out, and last night I watched as Beccy Cole came out on the ABCs Australian Story.
It was a wonderful program to watch – raw and honest and funny. I suspect much like Beccy herself.
One of the most common questions I see asked in comments threads about any news story that has anything to do with being gay or lesbian is why is there a need to come out at all. It’s often followed by a loaded statement, such as “I don’t feel the need to declare myself a male heterosexual”.
Well, of course you don’t. Everybody already just assumes you’re straight.
Coming out is not what I really wanted to talk about in this post though.
Most of us have a kind of “aha” moment – the moment of realisation that we can put a name to our feelings. Some of us, like me, have a series of “aha” moments, which build into the Big Moment of Acceptance.
One of those moments came as a result of the BBC show “Playing the Field”. It was while watching that show that Beccy says her “aha” moment came.
It was because of that show that I had one of my moments that lead to me accepting myself for who I am.
When that show was airing here in Australia, I was playing for a soccer team called The Blues – same as the show – and so my team mates and I would dissect each episode at training and before and after games. It was funny to watch a show about a team with the same name as us, and pretty cool too. We tried to match up characters with our team mates, with often hilarious results.
It was during one such discussion while watching a match with some parents of my younger team mates that I came close to outing myself. Close, but not quite.
One parent mentioned their frustration that the show was perpetuating a stereotype that dykes played soccer. I listened for awhile, and then said “I can guarantee you that every women’s team in our competition has at least one lesbian on the team.”
Stopped the conversation dead did that comment.
One of the mums then asked “Every team?” I just looked at her and smiled, and said “Every team.”
It’s funny looking back now, because I wonder if they actually worked out that I was talking about myself. When I think about my team at the time, process of elimination should have probably brought them back to me.
Nothing changed though with the way I was treated if they did put two-and-two together, and when I did eventually “come out” when I found myself a wonderful partner (who for some reason is still sticking by me), my team mates and their parents and partners were wonderfully accepting.
But helping me on my gay self-discovery wasn’t the only thing that show did for me. It actually gave me the inspiration I needed to start writing again. I have two half-finished YA manuscripts to prove it. Both sound ideas, but terribly flawed in their current condition. Both ideas that I will hopefully pursue in the future.
So to those who want to know why we feel the need to come out, I guess it comes down to power.
The problem lies with those “others” who would choose to define us by our sexuality. We “come out” to claim it for ourselves, before someone else does it for us. We do it to show we’re proud of who we are, despite this “thing” that we’re told is a flaw in our make up.
Being anything other than straight can still be confronting for some people – and for those of us in that minority, we take a huge risk in coming out, so it’s not for the faint hearted. It takes courage and confidence.
We risk losing family, friends and jobs. And for someone like Beccy Cole, she risks losing fans, and she also risks a public (and sometimes private) backlash.
But to Beccy Cole, and anyone else coming out, wanting to come out, or wondering if they should, I have this advice:
We are who we are. Those who judge you on one aspect of your self are not worth having in your life.
And from my perspective as a writer, the people who stop reading this blog because they find out I’m gay are not the people I want as fans.
Being gay is not a huge thing in my life, unless others choose to judge me on it. But then, that’s their problem, not mine.
Oh, and just one last thing Beccy – I think you’ll discover a whole new group of fans after your “coming out”. We’re a pretty accepting bunch, and we love to celebrate and support our own.