There’s a lot of media attention right now on LGBT youth due to an unfortunate string of suicides. Some of the Homorazzi cast participated in the “It Gets Better” campaign, and recorded a video message to youth out there that things get better after high school. I didn’t do a segment for that video. Not that I don’t agree that life gets way better after high school, but to be frank, I wasn’t bullied in high school. I wasn’t out, and I wasn’t too flamboyent. If anything I was picked on for being a nerd, but that’s being a bit dramatic. High school was a weird and confusing time for me, but it wasn’t life threatening.
Still, I feel saddened by the trend in gay teen suicides and I tried to think about back to when I was in high school, what would have made life easier for me; what would have cleared up some of my confusion? A corollary of me not being that flamboyant is that I can’t really remember having too many (if any) gay role models that I could relate to when I was a kid. Hell, I’m having trouble even thinking of one gay celebrity right now. KD Lang comes closest I guess. Liberace and Elton John didn’t really hold my attention the way hockey players or grunge rock stars did, and there weren’t any high profile out people in those professions.
Since I didn’t take part in the “It Gets Better” video, I still wanted to use this venue to perhaps give some support to some questioning youth out there. This isn’t to out ‘supposed’ homosexuals, but to highlight people who have publicly stated that they are queer, but aren’t necessarily obviously defined by their sexuality.
The front man for British indie rock band Bloc Party, Kele Okereke, released his first solo album this year. I was obsessed with the Bloc Party’s debut album Silent Alarm as were most 23 year olds I knew in 2005. I had no idea the lead singer was gay though! Notoriously shy in interviews, Okereke came out this year in an article for Butt Magazine (side note: love Butt). I’m glad that he did. Indie rock is primary composed of whiny, nerdy boys complaining about girls. It’s interesting to go back and listen to some of those songs, hearing them in a different context. A few friends and I saw Bloc Party perform in Seattle 2 years ago. If I had known, I would have thrown my underwear on the stage.
Douglas Coupland is probably most famous for his culture-era defining novel Generation-X, and other literary works, but he is also an accomplished artist. His recent Digital Orca piece is displayed outside of the Vancouver Convention Center. His book jPod was adapted into a 13 episode T.V. series on CBC. While it was canceled after the first season, a large community campaign tried to bring it back. If there are any true renaissance artists left, Coupland may be one of them.
Brian Cook may not be known to that many people, even after I tell you what he does, but he was a definite role model for me growing up. Cook played bass guitar in groundbreaking hardcore punk bands Botch and These Arms Are Snakes. I was really into that type of music in my late teens, and still love it now. If you think indie rock is dominated by hetero males, the hardcore scene is a concentrated version of that. I always felt like such an outcast at shows, and then even more so when I was talking about my music tastes to other gay guys. To know that there was a gay man, rocking his ass off in two bands that I absolutely loved allowed me to not feel so isolated. Cook is now the bassist in Russian Circles.
The Big Bang Theory’s breakout star Jim Parsons won the Emmy for best comedic actor this year, and in his acceptance speech thanked his then boyfriend, now fiancé Todd Spiewak. After all the praise actors like Heath Ledger, Sean Penn, and James Franco have been getting for playing gay roles, it’s great to see a gay guy being recognized for what LGBT actors have been doing forever, playing straight roles. It’s awesome to see an actor on such a mainstream comedy have success and not feel like they have to hide their sexuality. Take note George Clooney, you can come out now :P [edit: Seems like Parsons might not actually be gay since there's no official announcement. I'll figure out a fifth soon]
There’s been more media attention on this side of the pond on out Welsh Rugby player Gareth Thomas now that Mickey Rourke will be playing him in a movie based on Thomas’ life. Gareth is our Jackie Robinson. He’s the first active professional sports player to come out of the closet. There have been players that have come out of the closet after they’ve retired (including NBA player John Amaechi), but Thomas is the first active player. I don’t watch rugby, but I already love this man. Here’s a quote from him regarding his coming out: “I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player, first and foremost I am a man.” I can only hope that he inspires other professional athletes to do the same. Take a note from Harvey Milk, exposure to society is the only way to humanize us in bigots’ eyes.
Of course there are tonnes more gay men (and women) in Hollywood, Washington / Ottawa, and all over the media whose homosexuality might not be so apparent. Anderson Cooper, David Geffen, Alan Ball, Clive Barker, Beth Ditto,
Cabinet Minister John Baird (although he’s a conservative, I won’t hold that against him right now) [edit: rumours], NDP MP Libby Davies, author Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Patrick Harris etc., etc. Hopefully this gives some exposure to you readers as to how many of us there are in the public community living successful varied lives.