In the past few weeks, headlines have been blasting news about NFL hopeful Michael Sam coming out as gay and more recently the star of “Juno,” Ellen Page, coming out as a lesbian – and this is a problem.
This concept that people can “officially” be gay, or have to make an announcement and “come out,” is a societal practice that needs to be stopped. If you’re gay, be gay.
A black man doesn’t have to make an announcement he is black, a Jewish man doesn’t have to come out as a Jew. Similarly, no heterosexual teenager has to tell his parents he is straight if he wishes to bring home a girl for dinner. No other group has to make an official claim to those around them about who they are, so why should people in the LGBT community?
Since the civil rights movement, the fight for equality has shifted toward the LGBT community who, while fighting for marriage equality, have to battle for common courtesy and respect. Being able to marry the love of one’s life is nice, but what should come first is acceptance in society that allows one to have a conversation about love without being given a disdainful look.
Being gay is not like aligning with a political party or switching teams, it is a simple preference of what one person enjoys with another person intimately and the conversation of such should be kept in the bedroom.
Certainly more people need to be open about who they are, and those who may feel ashamed and try to hide their sexual identity should be comfortable to go on a date in public and hold hands and peck their dates on the cheek the same way straight couples do. However, there is no “talk” thst needs to be had or “announcement” made.
The talk that does need to happen is with the children in schools across the country. In every school, there are students being bullied, tormented, abused and stressed by the peer pressure created in our society every day. Thousands, if not millions all over the world, struggle in their adolescence to figure out who they are and strive to feel accepted in society, yet these same children have to fight bullying and repression by their underdeveloped peers to be something they may not be.
More action and education needs to be had in every school to help these children feel accepted and secure in who they are.
In the future, there shouldn’t be media storms and national conversations about the first gay athlete in a certain sport or someone’s favorite actress announcing herself as a lesbian; a boy should be able to go out on his first date with a boy and not be given a strange look by passersby; a girl should feel comfortable bringing home a girl to meet her parents without first “coming out” to them.
Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.