In light of Jason Collins coming out this week, there’s no doubt progress is being made in terms of awareness, tolerance, and acceptance for the gay community – on the surface at least. On a deeper level, however, I hear a different message being delivered by the mainstream media: that we, as a society, still have a long way to go.
Ultimately, the main objective of the gay community is to promote equality – that heterosexual and LGBT persons alike may live normal lives as equal members of society. Why is it then, that Jason Collins draws such overwhelming press coverage for publicly coming out? It seems to me that devoting so much time and attention to the matter is contradictory to the idea of equality.
Allow me to be perfectly clear in saying that I am in no way trying to insinuate that this is a bad thing – far from it! I, for one, fully support Collins’ decision and respect his courage to come out publicly and increase awareness. It is a positive step forward in an effort to achieve total equality. My point is that – while it is progress nonetheless – we still have a lot further to go; more than I thought, at least.
Try to think of it from the perspective of how intimidating it must be for others who have not openly come out to see the kind of attention this draws. While the increased awareness and abundance of public support is positive, imagine how frightening it could be, for those who want nothing more than to live normal lives and be treated as equal members of society; to risk coming out and having their ‘normalcy’ revoked should they be thrust into the spotlight, thus being viewed as somehow separate from the rest.
Honestly, when I first saw the headlines, I thought to myself, “So, what? What’s the big deal?”. I don’t judge people by their sexual orientation, therefore I don’t really care if they’re gay or not. It makes no difference to me what gender one is attracted to; it doesn’t affect me in any way whatsoever, so why is this headline news? Unfortunately, the reason stories like this make headlines is because the prejudice and controversy surrounding the “issue” of gay rights sells.
I believe that the defining moment when we know for sure that society as a whole has fully accepted the gay community as equals is the day when it’s no longer a big deal for an individual to come out as openly gay; when LGBT’s are so widely accepted that it is no longer necessary to make a major news story about it. When the collective societal body says, “So, what?”, is the day when prejudice, controversy, and bigotry surrounding homosexuality all but cease to exist.
I have high hopes and a firm belief that I will live to see that day. While there is still a long journey ahead on the road to equality, I believe we are headed in the right direction. In the meantime, yay for the gays!