A Yahoo headline today reads “Adam Lambert finally confirms ‘I’m gay.’” Why is this news? Does this really matter? As far as I’m concerned, no. And yes.
Coming out can be an extremely difficult process, especially for someone who is already in the spotlight. Suddenly, all media coverage is focusing on the person’s sexuality and dating preferences and forgetting that this person may have actual talent that he or she is trying to find an audience (and hopefully a paying gig) for. Does it matter whether the person is straight or not? Really? I suppose by coming out it is possible that the gay and/or lesbian communities will rally around the talented individual, increasing record sales or something, but not everyone who is gay wants to be the spokesperson for the community even though he or she may have celebrity status.
We don’t suddenly see headlines “confirming” Brad Pitt’s heterosexuality all over the place, so why is it news when we find out that a celebrity is gay or lesbian? We’re living in such a heteronormative society that assumes everyone is straight until proven otherwise. No one has to “come out” as heterosexual, but it makes the headlines when we think someone might have a sexual orientation that includes members of his or her own sex.
In Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, he reported that about 10% of the U.S. population was homosexual. Current data shows Kinsey’s report to be not far from the mark, with ranges from 2.5-14% of the population. Granted this is a difficult thing to survey when we still live in a society that makes such a big deal about being homosexual, and it’s not all Coming Out Galas with cake and tiaras.
However, at the same time, if we don’t make a big deal about a celebrity coming out, then all of the homosexuals who are closeted, afraid, and in real need of role models would have no one to look up to. We do need gays and lesbians who are on the front line, in front of the cameras, unabashedly displaying their sexual orientation so that others who do not live or work in a place where they can be themselves can at least have a few icons to learn from and maybe emulate.
Is this news? I don’t know. Maybe someday it won’t matter what an individuals’ orientation is. It will matter what they do and how they contribute to the greater good.