To All The Queer Celebrities Who Stepped Out Of The Closet
(Disclaimer: there are many, many reasons why people stay in the closet, and their decision to keep themselves safe is one to be respected, as well. There is nothing shameful about staying in the closet, especially if it is a necessity- this piece is written simply to express gratitude for the people who have chosen to, for one reason or another.)
There is a privilege that cishet people get to experience, and that is to look around them and never fall short of cishet icons to look up to. Speaking as a bisexual in conservative Singapore, it really is possible to believe that the country does not have a single queer celebrity in the fold, and the first time I ever discovered a queer celebrity (s/o to Ivan!), it was a spiritual experience.
It is a powerful thing for a queer teenager, to look up at a successful, loved media darling whose name is splashed over the front pages, and know that they are not cis and/or not het, just like you. In a country where many still barely understand and accept non-hetero monosexuality (let alone bisexuality or pansexuality or any other), it is a powerful thing to see a queer person be treated as so much more than a label. In a country where stereotypes are aggressively pushed onto queer people, it is a powerful, powerful thing to see people of note break these stereotypes and show the world that gay people aren’t flamboyant, bisexual people aren’t greedy, genderfluid people aren’t confused, and aromantic people don’t just need the “Right One” to come along. When a celebrity comes out, so many people are affected beyond their own circle.
We’re taking about people who’ve loved these celebrities before they knew they were queer, who’ve claimed themselves fans and gone to their signings or fanmeets or concerts- people who might be previously queerphobic possibly being forced to evaluate what they thought they knew about queer people, or people who might previously have been unaware beginning to learn. We’re talking about other closeted celebrities, who might just get to breathe a little easier watching their colleagues be proud of who they are and maybe push the door of the closet open, just a crack, to see the light of day. We’re talking about teenagers who’re confused and angry and fearful because everything that the world has ever told them makes them feel as if they are wrong, who’ll look up at these queer celebrities and feel insurmountable relief and joy and validation wash over them because their idol is queer, like them.
Whether you’re a gay actor, or a trans author, or a genderfluid ace singer, or any other identity- thank you for doing so much more than just showing the world who you are. For the person I was before I knew who I would become, for the people who are, and for the people who are yet to be, thank you for being an icon, a light, a beacon.
Thank you for coming out.