I'll preface this by saying that no one has an obligation to come out. It's a very personal decision. And I should say that the familial environment of my childhood has greatly changed since I've passed into adulthood. But I want to emphasize what is possible when people choose to live openly, and the way it can help counter some of the attitudes under which so many gay children are raised.
|Hey Ellen Page. I'm not single, but if I am one day, I promise I'll hit on you right after I strike out with Michelle Chamuel.|
I grew up in Texas, in a conservative, Christian family that taught abstinence, to the point of giving each of us kids a purity ring when we turned 13. For a straight child, this would certainly create a bit of repression, but for me, this meant both repression and a reprieve: with sex forbidden by God On High, I could put on blinders and ignore it completely. I internalized what I believed these teachings meant--sex was dirty and aggressive and somehow also sacred--at the same time as I absorbed some of conservative Christianity's other none-of-your-business teachings.
Growing up, gay was dirty, gay was diseased, gay was sinful and it was hellbound. Gay wasn't an option. Lesbian was even worse. For some reason, even now, gay has cultural traction--women have glamorized gay men, but no such fashionable fetishization exists for lesbians, just a fake idolization by a certain type of man. There's a reason Ellen DeGeneres was essentially banished from television after she came out, when I was in eighth grade.
What would it have meant to me to have an Ellen Page come out when I was a teen? I didn't have a clue about my sexuality until midway through my 20s, so I won't pretend it would've led to a sudden, lighting-strike moment in which I Realized; it would've meant a cool, funny, pretty woman I liked watching on film just so happened to be a lesbian. Might it have led me to think about some things? Yep. Might it have made me wonder why I felt an impulse to kiss girl friends? Probably. But on a more basic level, she would have been a counter to what I had internalized, and maybe would have been a sort of beacon for me--she would have represented an option I didn't have. She may have helped beat back the waves of homophobia and self-loathing I still battle.
One of my biggest reasons for blogging is to hopefully do this sort of work: to show people, gay and straight alike, the depth and breadth of gay history, and its extension beyond the stereotypes with which we're familiar. It's what I want to do with Queer Vintage/Vintage Queer, but it's work that can be done so much more powerfully when people just come out, live openly, and simply show others they exist.
Thank you, Ellen Page.