On Colton Haynes, Celebrities Coming Out and Pushing Things Too Far

First of all… Happy New Year 2016!
We have finally reached the time of perpetual hangovers, tons of leftovers and gym comebacks! (Yay for that!)

Amidst all the festive publications I came across with a few headlines with the shocking news ‘Colton Haynes *may* just have come out!’

My sudden reaction: May? What do you mean ‘may’?

As I scrolled through the different articles, all seemed to point out to this post of Colton Hayne’s Tumblr account:

While I can understand the human curiosity, and I have talked before about why celebrities coming out may be something noteworthy, the whole discourse on Colton Haynes seems utterly wrong to me.

It almost looks as if we believed to have some kind of right over celebrities’ personal lives: the right to know.

Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to yield the ‘morally superior’ card here. But I do think that this kind of behavior does a disservice to us as a collective (whether you consider yourself part of it or no).

The articles on Colton Haynes (quotation marks) ‘coming out’ (/quotation marks), are riddle with expressions like ‘his gay past’.

I am no celebrity (and I doubt I will ever be!) but I would personally dislike having to give an official statement and/or explanation about every aspecto of my personal life. Sometimes I almost feel that I have to do that now…and I absolutely refuse to play that game.

colton-haynes-gay

One of the biggest problems is that this makes Colton looked like another closeted celebrity ashamed of his sexuality; when his post was probably intended to simply tackle that concept.

It also shows, through expressions like ‘gay past’ a very narrow view of sexuality as something linear and perpetual rather than the spectrum that it actually is. Which, coming from a collective that promotes tolerance and inclusivity…seems a bit of a double standard.

Finally, it is an awful form of bullying. And while we are pretty much used to that in gossip news and magazines (like I mentioned above, human social nature) that does not mean that we have to keep encouraging it.

One of those New Year’s resolutions could be to empathise a bit more with that whole lot of people over whose lives we believe that have some kind of entitlement.

 

pic: ‘Teen wolf – Panel’ by Thibault
A perfect moment by Anne Makaske with Darwin Bell

Why Being Gay Meant Giving Up on Love

Many people talk about the challenges of being accepting one’s sexuality and going forward with it (many times known as ‘coming out’ — even though this is not a necessary step), but very few seem to realise that this process goes beyond the bullying and being able to date men (or/and being legally able to marry them).

Even for those who advocate for same-sex marriage, the scope of the subject seems to be limited to one single aspect, and the rest remains hidden. Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely understandable. I couldn’t fully understand what it’s like for a black person to face life in today’s society either.

Things have also change so quickly in the last decade, and this post may not reflect other people’s experience.

The thing is, while coming out as a gay guy was liberating, it also meant giving up on love. As soon as I became aware of it, any dreams of having  (what is understood as) a normal life, faded away.

It meant renouncing to sneaking love letters in the lockers; endless calls; dating someone from your class; dating someone and introducing him to my parents; the first family meetings…and all that jazz.

It also meant dating in chatrooms with men who only want to have a quick fuck; not meeting in an open place; watching over my shoulder.

Every scene of every film, every book and magazine, featured a nice girl and a boy falling in love. In some rare cases, they also featured they bullied gay guy, or the closeted married guy.

Sometimes, I even wished I was a girl — not because I didn’t feel comfortable with my body, but because that way, I had been be able to have all those things (of course, we all know that not every person has them, but in my case it was virtually impossible).

A perfect moment by Anne Makaske with Darwin Bell

In short, it meant realizing that I didn’t have the chance to have what was considered a ‘normative’ love life.

More than a decade after that, things have changed. I am not sure if it has become easier for teen gay guys (I hope so! Stories like this straight guy asking his gay friend to prom really make me happy). But even with all this tolerance and gay marriage, we still live in a society that has been tailored for heteronormative relationships.

It’s only recently that gay couple have started to be featured in mainstream films and series without being the ‘token gay character’.

To me, as a now adult gay guy, it’s still difficult to see myself in the future. It’s still blurry.

Where we had chatrooms, we now have apps and, like I said in a previous article, the dating process is far from ideal.

All of the above doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on Love, but just the way I felt more than a decade ago and, inevitably, it has shaped the way I feel now.

I truly hope that, in the coming years, this will change. I hope that my children (If I have any) will be able to watch a film an identify with the main love story. I hope they will be able to fall in love like the silly and fearless teenagers they are — with whomever they want. I truly hope society has a place for them.

For some of us it’s a bit late, but we’ll keep working and fighting, so that they don’t have to. They’ll have to fight other battles, for sure, but I hope that this one is not one of them.

photo, a perfect moment by Anne Makaske under Creative Commons
A 15yo gay kid's letter to a gay magazine

Throwback: When a 15yo Gay Kid Writes to a Gay Magazine

I have the good (or bad) habit of saving things: pieces of papers, tickets of travels…anything! They are, to me, small tokens of my past.

A few days ago, I came across with a Gay Magazine from 2005. It was, at that time, the biggest (an probably the only) gay zine in my country. All glossy and nice, I couldn’t even afford it.

I was 15 years old at that time.

Trying to look back to that period of my life, it now seems hard to relate to whatever I was going though. Don’t get me wrong, I do remember (an will always remember) that Hell I went through. Like, I guess, every other gay kid does.

But I can’t remember what I was going through specifically at that time. I was at High School, and if I remember correctly, I had just came out to my mom the year before. At that time, my classmates already knew as well.

Anyway, I wrote a piece that was published in that magazine:

My name is D, I’m 15 years old and I’m homosexual. If I write this words, is not out of spitefulness or mere boredom, but to externalize this feeling that beat real hard inside me. This summer I discovered my homosexuality and, since then, I’m only had support. First, from my best friends, who understood me, and eventually, from part of my family as well. Since then, the ‘Faggot!’ and ‘Gay!’ and the like, have been a constant in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to be a strong person, able to withstand all that and much more. But not everybody is able to do that, a big amount of young people like me, of 16, 15, or even 14 years of age, still remain in their closets, repressed by those bullies, repressed by religion, repressed by this society. Like a very nice actress said «You don’t choose who you fall in love with». I didn’t choose, and many young people of my age didn’t either. However, they are not strong enough and have to keep putting up with all the mockery against their sexuality. With this lines I want to give them my support. We are not weird, we are not doing anything wrong, we aren’t even different! If there is something that makes us different at all, it’s the fact that we’ve learnt to love without social barriers – to love with our hearts. To all of you: Be yourselves!

There are a lot of ‘Letter to my X years old me’ around lately. Now, if I had the chance to send a letter back to that kid, I wouldn’t. All I could say is ‘You’re gonna be fine’.

It will be hard. It was hard. And after I wrote those lines the bullying didn’t stop.

But I had friends. And I had love…Oh you bet I did!

And things are a bit better now too… We can marry! There is still a lot of work to do, but it does definitely get better.

Gay Pride, bologna june 28, 2008 by l3m4ns

Relevancy: The Gay and The News; and The Pride in Coming Out

I have always been the kind of person that considers his sexuality something personal (which is not the same as private). Therefore, I’m not fond of the ‘Hey, I’m X and I’m Gay’. I simply do not consider it relevant at that stage of the conversation.

However, this ‘relevancy’ of one’s sexuality has been put at the stake recently (and for the past decade). As the laws of different countries change and the gay collective (and people) get more attention, we often hear (mostly by straight people) ‘How is your sexuality relevant?’, ‘Why do you introduce yourself with your sexuality?’ (a bit of an exaggeration, even though sometimes does happen), ‘Why is this on the news?’ or ‘What’s the pride in it?’.

Most of the time, these are comments on Social Platforms replying to the news. I feel like answering all of them! But I thought I would rather write this article.

First of all, the introduction. Yes, it is certainly out-of-place to state one’s sexuality in his/her introduction. It is odd. I can think, however, about a few situation in which the context demands that kind of specification.

But, let’s be honest… in many situations, if that person wouldn’t have said anything at the beginning and then, let’s say, in the middle of the conversation, talking about certain actor, he says ‘Yes, I agree, he is quite hot’, the chances of all the eyes in the room suddenly turning to look on him/her are very high. This particular way of looking, saying: ‘Oh my God, are you Gay? Why didn’t you say it before?’. It can be accompanied with excitement or disgust.

Not, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you find normal people (whatever that means), who just smile. But they are surprised. It does surprise even me if someone else does it, and I am gay!

Therefore, it may be out-of-place, but let’s not use the card of ‘Why do you have to make a big deal of it stating it in your introduction. I don’t care at all’ when they actually mean ‘I don’t want to hear it. Not now, not ever’.

The Gay and the News

With the recent coming out of Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, another issue has been posed again: whether this is a relevant new or no.

When I read such comments on those news, I just lose it.

Seriously guys? Are you actually playing that card again? Relevancy?
Tim Cook could break a leg, be featured on the news for that, and nobody would complain. People would probably make some #BendGame joke about it.

An actress kisses a guy in public and it’s all over the news. Actors get their iCloud accounts hacked, and the internet goes mad talking about them or even looking for those leaked pictures.

Are you seriously going to tell me that ‘that’s his private life’? That ‘you don’t know how that is relevant’?

Moreover, do you know to whom is this not relevant? To him.
Do we seriously think that the CEO of one of the biggest companies of the world actually ‘needs’ to come out to the world as gay?

‘Why then?’ one may ask, ‘why?’. Because.
Because we still live in a society where being gay is not acceptable. Because there are still a myriad of countries where it’s illegal, and punishable (sometimes with death). Because of Russia’s gay propaganda law.

Because we live in a world that has its eyes focused on big names, big stars. They are seen as ‘the relevant people’ and, by coming out, they are setting an example.

Because at one point, there would be impossible to (truly) hate-avoid gay people — we serve your food, design your gadgets, organise your events, drive you home. And in that moment, people, however they feel about homosexuality, would be forced to exercise a very particular attitude: respect — sincere respect for human dignity.

But today is not that time. Today, there are people still struggling. And today, that is a relevant new. Maybe not for you, but neither is the relevant for me the iCloud leak.

Again, if it bother you so much, you can repeat with me: ‘It’s not that I don’t find it relevant, I just don’t want to hear it. Not now, not ever’.

Keep it private or ‘what we do in bed’

Another recurring comment (following the same line of the ones above), is ‘I’m okay with gay people, but I don’t need to know about it, people should keep what they do in bed, private’.

Wrong. My sexuality, like yours, is public, not private. As public as my name, my profession or my hobbies. It is definitely ‘personal’, but not private. And it is most certainly not limited in any way to what I do in bed.

This was very well explained by Jose Luis Serrano in his article (it is in Spanish, though) ‘Nobody care what you do in your bed!’

He gave a great example. If we go out for a walk with our wife and kids and we come across with a friend, it’s mandatory to introduce her, and definitely to introduce her as our wife. If that happens with our husband, and we do the same ‘showing off’ our sexuality or ‘what we do in bed’.

Can you imagine reacting to the first like many do with the second?
‘Goodness me, I’m okay with you having sex with a woman, but keep it to your bed’.
We would be lucky if we are not, first slapped by her, and then punched by her husband. And rightly so (even though I don’t excuse any kind of violence).

Like Jose Luis says, in his article:

My sexual orientation is public. I’m married to a man, the mailbox in my house has the names of the two of us, we share our flat, mortgage, the good and the bad, I sign for his certified letters if he’s not home, we go together to the family meetings, at work, I include him in my health insurance. We watch TV, go to the films, we laugh and cry (a little). Some day we will be buried together (better later than sooner!). That’s my sexual orientation. The other stuff, what we do in bed, that which concerns all of you so much, is my private life. And it’s my private life as much as yours is too.

This is doubly true for the ‘news’ mentioned above.

I am up for removing the ‘personal’ life of celebrities from the news and the internet. Let’s go for it. Most Wikipedia articles feature parts of their personal lives. Let’s take all that down.

But that is not the problem right? Again, repeat with me: ‘It’s not that I don’t find it relevant, or that it has anything to do with what they do in bed, I just don’t want to hear it. Not now, not ever’.

The Pride of being Gay

There is another major comment that I hear every now and then, probably the most frequent one. ‘Why are they proud of being gay? Should I be proud of being straight too then?’

This is probably the dumbest of the comments.
I am sorry, I try to empathise with other people views, but this comments is just a ‘No, no’.

Let’s make it clear. Gay people do not simply feel ‘proud’ of being who they are; that would be, indeed, quite irrelevant. They feel ’proud’ to be true to who they are ‘in spite of’.

In spite of your awful, sometimes cruel, comments.
In spite of the abuse the have to go through.
In spite of reading in every week in the news how another gay couple has been beating just because they were holding hand in the street.
In spite of not being able to commit themselves in same-sex union in their own countries.
In spite of feeling that they are letting their parents down (check this great article about a Muslim guy and his coming out)

And I won’t even go to the Middle East, or some other countries and their penalties (that argument is a bit overused, even though it’s still true).

People may feel that this pride, and even mor specifically, the ‘Gay Pride Day’ is very out-of-place. But, you know, it was only 50 years ago that homosexuality was still considered a mental illness. That gay pubs were being raided.

That didn’t change with ‘peaceful dialogue’. That changed with protests, with celebrities coming out (however irrelevant this may seem to people). Yes, it changed with men in thongs and feathers dancing on the street. No, I don’t feel that this last picture represents me. But God forbid that I ever criticise someone standing for the right of others, however flamboyant the means are.

Some people compare it with overweight. And it may be true in some degree. I had both things during my teen years.

But overweight, even though it could depress me and lead to a lot of discrimination, didn’t scare me. It didn’t make me think that I wouldn’t live to everyone’s expectations, that I could never have a partner or a family (that’s just me, of course).

Above all, overweight is something I was able to change. And sometime, like it was my case, it just changes as your grow physically. So now, that isn’t there anymore, but I am still gay.

So, the moment being straight becomes and issue, the moment it becomes illegal or punishable, the moment you have to go and tell your parents about it with your whole body trembling, the moment that you are beaten for holding hand with your girlfriend.

That moment, I will build a monument for each of you. I will organise the greatest parade ever. I will not only accept that coming out as straight is relevant, I will encourage you to do it. I will support you. I will cry it out with you.

In some respects, I already you. However this articles may seem to focus only on ‘the gay thing’, they are translatable to you as well, to any other aspects, whether it’s sexuality, religion, ideology…

If after this explanation you still feel like using that card, repeat with me: ‘It’s not that I don’t understand why there’s pride on coming out as gay in spite of everything, I just don’t want to hear it. Not now, not ever’.

And here, respect beings…

Image: Gay Pride, bologna june 28, 2008 by l3m4ns