Wow, right now both articles at the top of AfterElton.com are by me. I don't think that's ever happened before!
One is, of course, my Project Runway recap. It's a heartbreaking story of an injustice so vast, an offense to taste so great... well, you'll just have to read it.
The other is one of those political/entertainment hybrid articles my editor Michael Jensen keeps
making me convincing me to write. I'm pretty proud of this one, and it got picked up by Gawker, too, which makes the gossipy bitch in me happy:
(Neil Patrick) Harris was yet another public figure who was "out in the community, but not in the press." In other words, gay fans knew, along with varying numbers of other people, but it hadn't been reported in the media, and mainstream America was perfectly free to ignore it if they wished. In fact, most of mainstream America isn't ignoring the existence of queer celebrities; thanks to close-mouthed celebrities and a complicit media, they really don't know.
That system works because these days many of the queer and famous don't come out – they inch out. And it's not hard to figure out why. They get to socialize in the gay community, be out to their immediate friends and family, and live with their same-sex partners without having to go through the media circus of an official come-out. But here's a question: What's in it for us?
Other than any thrill it might give us to get the joke when Anderson Cooper laughs that fellow CNN anchor Erica Hill's husband doesn't have anything to worry about from him, or when Jodie Foster thanks her "beautiful Cydney" at a Hollywood event, not much. That's because it's not inside jokes and white-lipped references to privacy that advance GLBT equality and civil rights; it's visibility.
And that doesn't mean visibility to each other, but mainstream visibility. There is nothing more strongly correlated with increased support of gay rights among straight people, from marriage to adoption to opposing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, than one simple thing: knowing someone who is gay.
Anderson Cooper (l), Jodie Foster & Cydney Bernard (r)
The bottom line is that coming out as gay – actually saying the words clearly, and for the record – is the single most powerful tool we have to achieve equality. "Inching out" might make gay celebrities' lives easier, and they have every right to do it if they want to. But as a community, we also have the right to examine the impact of that choice on us.
And it does have one. It perpetuates the one thing that has done more harm to gay rights than any other institution: the closet. Because even if a public figure is "out in the community," until they're also "out in the press" – until their coming out statement is on the pages of People magazine – mainstream America will continue on, blissfully unaware that their favorite actor, a powerful politician, or a respected business leader is queer.
Read the whole thing here.