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Article for Pittsburgh PFLAG newsletter

It has been a real “coming out party” these last few weeks. One started it, and several followed, the last saying it was the others who gave him the courage.

First, I heard about Don Lemon, an anchor at CNN. Then I heard about Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts. Next, it was another athlete, Will Sheridan, former Villa Nova basketball player. A few days later, Jared Max at ESPN radio in New York came out on the air. Below, you can hear Max’s broadcast, in which he mentions the other three: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/player?rd=1#/podcenter/?id=6567207&autoplay=1&callsign=KSPNAM

Don Lemon and Will Sheridan are African American. This is noteworthy because there are few famous out gay men of color, and perhaps some young black man will look to these two as his role models. And they may help to reduce homophobia among their own race. Because it is not the African American civil rights struggle, but the push for equality for the lgbt community is a civil rights struggle nonetheless.

Don Lemon’s interview with Michelangelo Signorile is here: http://www.signorile.com/2011/05/don-lemon-interview.html

Three of the four I mentioned above are involved in the sports world, one of the last bastions of homophobia. It’s a place where testosterone and machismo rule. Kobe Bryant got made an example of because his gay slur was caught on camera, but the three-letter “f” word is used frequently, along with calling guys pussies if they miss a tackle, etc. It’s got to be harder to be out and proud in that environment, and we have yet to see a major active player do it.

Homophobia and gay stereotyping are also prevalent in Hollywood. Actors may come out in their forties after achieving success, but while some twenty-somethings are open among their cast mates, few are completely out. Speculation that gay actors cannot play straight still rules the day, and young actors are struggling to get roles in a world where television is filled with more and more reality shows.

Much has changed in just the last few years, but I’m hoping that more people in the news, sports, and entertainment businesses will find the courage to come out. There are isolated kids in the mountains of Tennessee and other places who need them.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
Nice article.

You bring up good points about the difficulty of athletes and actors to come out publicly because of their environments. A lot of gay actors working now who aren't out may do it for their own personal privacy, but they also have their careers to think about and don't want to be pigeonholed into stereotyped roles.
May. 29th, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)

Privacy in the entertainment business is a double-standard. If someone is straight, the gossip flows, and everyone just looks at it as "they are public property" to a point. If someone's gay, they're left alone, for the most part.

I personally don't need to know about the private lives of actors, and I manage to stay surprisingly ignorant. But the double-standard thing bothers me. It's as if being gay is a horroble thing, so no one should talk about it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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