As I watched Sam Champion, Good Morning America (ABC) weatherman, announce his impending nuptials to his partner, Rubem Robierb, live on the air the other day it got me to thinking about how far we’ve come in society and how far we have to go. It reminded me of my own childhood searching for any person or even a hint of someone to serve as a role model for a young, gay man.
I’m not saying there weren’t open LGBT individuals in the limelight when I was younger, I’m just pointing out (and applauding) the growing number of celebrities, musicians and members of the media who are coming out and living true and honest lives. Sometimes a young, gay teenager needs more than Elton John and Charles Nelson Reilly to look up to.
Young LGBT need a variety of individual voices sharing their experiences and telling their stories. They need to witness individuals of different ethnicities, genders and occupations prove that who you are has no affect whatsoever on who you could be. You could be a celebrity chef with your own show on the Food Network like Anne Burrell, a professional boxer and former Olympian like Orlando Cruz or a country music star like Chely Wright.
There was a time, and some would argue it still exists, when if an actor came out of the closet they sacrificed their career as a leading man. Many argue that a gay man lacks the genuine ability to play a tough, heterosexual hero. Therefore, the only remaining roles are the suffering AIDS victim or the leading lady’s witty and stylish best friend. Actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer are challenging that stereotype everyday. Each actor has proven they can play the role of a strong leading man able to fight villains and capture the hearts of their female counterparts.
The television media has also seen their fair share of coming out stories. Besides Champion, MSNBC‘s Thomas Roberts just wed his longtime partner a few weeks back and CNN’s Anderson Cooper has finally tripped out of the closet door. Not to be outdone, FOX News‘ own, Shep Smith, is an openly gay anchor for the network. Every one of these broadcasters is able to do the job that is expected of them while maintaining an open and honest relationship with their partners, networks and viewers.
We have all had a role model in our lives. Whether it’s our family, friends or the people we see and hear on television, we all yearn for someone who’s like us. We search for someone who can prove that our life’s trajectory doesn’t need to be altered just because we’re gay or lesbian. As more actors, musicians, members of the media and regular folks like us come out, the more young LGBT teenagers have someone to look up to and provide an example of how much you can accomplish regardless of who you are. It’s what we needed when we were younger and what we can do now to ensure the next generation can live their lives to their greatest potential.
National Coming Out Day is October 11th. Have you come out yet?