Saturday, 1 March 2014

Recent outings

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Recent outings...
These are just a few, selected stories, for more: "I'm Gay, LGBT, 'Whatever': The 53 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2013" - http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/50.html

January 2013 
There was some excitement when Jodie Foster accepted her Golden Globe Award (1). In her acceptance speech, she said (among other things), "I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, co-workers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her." (2)


It is clear she was out in her private life, but she also at least ‘opened the closet door’ in 2007 when she thanked “my beautiful Cydney, who sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss” during her acceptance speech for the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the 16th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast on 4th December 2007. (3)

February 2013
One of the first ‘celebrities’ who definitely did come out publicly in 2013 was Robbie Rogers, an American professional soccer player, in a brief announcement on his blog (4). He has played for Columbus Crew (Ohio), Leeds United and Stevenage, as well as making 18 appearances on the US national team (and scoring 2 goals for them). He retired before coming out - the only male footballer in Britain to do so after the late Justin Fashanu (5) came out in 1990. He has since returned home to the US, where he became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for Los Angeles Galaxy on 26 May 2013. (6)

In December 2013, he revealed that not one  gay professional footballer had contacted him since his coming out. (7)

That same month Clive Davis, an American record producer and the music industry executive who founded Arista Records, came out as bisexual in his autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life (8).

Since 2004, Davis has been in a relationship with a man, which followed a previous 14-year relationship with a man. (9)






March 2013
In March, Richard Wilson, best known for his portrayal of arch-grump Victor Meldrew, having never spoken about his sexuality, rather casually came out at the age of 76 in an interview with The Daily Mail: “I don’t mind people saying I’m gay, because I am.” (10)

In the same interview, he referred to being placed at no. 80 in a recent Time Out list of influential gay people. It was, he says, ‘the most blatant outing.’ (11)

Nothing much seemed to happen in April or May, then…

June 2013
In a House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on 3rd June 2013, Baroness Liz Barker revealed publicly for the first time that she, herself, is in a same-sex relationship. The Liberal Democrat peer, who was among the first to speak, said she had to “declare an interest”. She went on to say, “Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since.” (12)

Ahead of her coming out in the House of Lords debate, Baroness Barker had about the challenges the bill faced for PinkNews.co.uk. (13) After her speech, she joined other proequality campaigners and politicians gathering outside the Houses of Parliament to hold a vigil in favour of same-sex marriage.

Later that month, when considering how to vote on marriage equality, Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham) was “overwhelmed” by local opposition to it. Once equal marriage was made legal, he returned to his activists with a surprising message. “I informed my association a few weeks ago that, following my divorce, I now have a new partner, and it is a guy,” he told Mandrake (aka Tim Walker) in The Telegraph. (14)

Kawczynski declined to name his partner, but was delighted by the backing that he received from many members of his local Conservative association: “They have been very supportive and kind, which obviously I appreciate greatly. It is very important to show the youngsters that it is perfectly acceptable and normal to be open about your sexual preferences. I have always been with women. Now, I have met a guy.” The announcement makes him the first Tory MP to openly identify as bisexual.

At 6ft 8½in, Kawczynski is not only the tallest MP, but is also officially classed as a giant. In 2006, he campaigned unsuccessfully for new building regulations to have all doors built 7ft high as standard, because he was so fed up with banging his head.

July 2013
Michelle Hardwick joined TV soap Emmerdale early in 2013 to play vet Vanessa Woodfield, after previously spending nine years playing receptionist Lizzie Hopkirk in ITV's The Royal.

In an interview with The Daily Mirror, published online on 6 July (15), she spoke about her real life partner, Rosie Nicholl. She had never talked about this before because "it never seemed like the right time." She also felt nervous of revealing too much when working on The Royal because the majority of that audience were older.

Since joining Emmerdale, she is more often asked about her personal life. "I don’t want to hide anything. I’ve never actually been able to talk about ‘my girlfriend’ or ‘partner’ - this person that means everything to me, and it feels good to be able to finally do it."

She also said: “I do tweet, so people can see me and Rosie on there but they probably think we’re mates who share a house. People say, ‘I’d never have guessed you were gay’ because they expect you to look a certain way and I don’t fit their stereotype.

August 2013
Actor Ben Whishaw prefers not to discuss his personal life, saying: "For me, it’s important to keep a level of anonymity. As an actor, your job is to persuade people that you’re someone else. So if you’re constantly telling people about yourself, I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot." (16) In 2011 he told Out magazine, "As an actor you have total rights to privacy and mystery, whatever your sexuality, whatever you do. I don't see why that has to be something you discuss openly because you do something in the public eye. I have no understanding of why we turn actors into celebrities." (17) However, in August 2013 a representative for Whishaw confirmed that he entered into a civil partnership with Australian composer Mark Bradshaw in August 2012. (18)

In December 2013, it was confirmed that he will play Freddie Mercury, in an upcoming film about Freddie and Queen. (19)

After previously denying that he was gay (20), actor Wentworth Miller, perhaps best known for his role in the TV series Prison Break, came out in some style.

He had been invited to appear at the St Petersburg International Film Festival. In a letter which he posted on the GLAAD (21) website, he replied: "... as a gay man, I must decline. I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly." (22)

Later, speaking eloquently at a Human Rights Campaign (23) dinner in Seattle on 8 September, he revealed that he had been so troubled by his sexual orientation that from the age of 15 he had attempted suicide of a number of occasions. "Growing up I was a target. ... Every day was a test and there was a thousand ways to fail. A thousand ways to portray yourself to not live up to someone else’s standards of what was accepted." He also said, "When someone asked me if that [suicide] was a cry for help, I said no, because I told no one. You only cry for help if you believe there's help to cry for." (24)

September 2013
Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in the women's 500-metre competition and in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics for women's long track. (25)

She had told her family and close friends two years before, but decided to come out in a public statement at Calgary Pride to underscore her opposition to Russia’s gay propaganda law. She also spoke to The Globe and Mail about “being so proud to be gay”. She also said, “I could never promote that message of concealing who you are with all of this going on in Russia. I’m kind of happy that I did it on my own terms.” (26) In February, she said that she ‘will not use the Winter Olympics as a platform to protest against Russia's controversial laws.’ (27)

October was a quiet month.

November 2013
Brenda Urie, the lead singer of Panic! At the Disco, spoke to http://www.pridesource.com about their single Girls/Girls/Boys from the current album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!.

And never did I think that I

Would be caught in the way you got me

But girls love girls and boys

And love is not a choice

He described the song as 'very autobiographical': "I'm proud of who I am and I'm gonna act accordingly. It's really kind of loosely based on the majority of relationships I've been in, even now with my wife. Yeah, she's attracted to girls, and I think some men are extremely attractive and I don't wanna hide it. I have no shame in it. I like being able to shed some light on that. It's nice to be able to open up like that."

Asked how he would label himself sexually, he said: "I guess if I had to classify myself, I'd say I'm straight. But I have, in the past, experimented in other realms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Overall I'm more attracted to women. Like with my wife, I'm just so insanely in love and attracted to my wife that I go, "Well, OK, my love of musicals can't trump that I love pussy." (28)

Derek Mackay MSP is the Minister for Local Government and Planning in the Scottish Government and since 2011 the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Renfrewshire North and West. He has announced that he is living apart from his wife and is gay. Speaking publicly for the first time about the split, Mr Mackay - who is also chairman of the SNP - appealed for the family's privacy to be respected. (29)

He said: "Having been aware myself for some time and having informed family and friends it is important for me to be clear publicly that I am gay. ... While I feel it is important to be open about this change in my personal circumstances I would ask that our privacy is respected while we support our family through this period."

The marriage split is said to have been "amicable". Family members and close personal and political friends have been "incredibly supportive".

He is one of a number of gay MSPs, including Joe FitzPatrick, the minister for parliamentary business; Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives; Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Scottish Greens; and Jim Eadie, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern who has campaigned for a change in the law to allow same sex marriage.

Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty in Sherlock, came out in a very low key way in an interview with The Independent. Discussing his role as Viktor Koslov, a KGB spy in BBC2 drama Legacy, he was asked how he had managed to use such an authentic Russian accent. His reply: "There isn't a huge amount of footage of Russians speaking English as a second language, so I started looking at Vladimir Putin videos on YouTube. But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation this summer – so, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts!" (30)


Eminent psychiatrist, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, is the current President Elect of the World Psychiatric Association (31) and is Professor of Mental Health & Cultural Diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He recently spoke publicly for the first time of being gay in an interview published in The Guardian (32): "Being gay is an important part of me, but a private part." In the interview, he also said that he wants a radical rethink of mental illness and expressed the hope that his profession would sometime apologise for the harm it has inflicted on gay people and women.

He has lived with his partner, Mike, for 30 years.

December 2013
On 2 December, bronze medal winning Olympic diver Tom Daley released a YouTube video announcing that he has been in a relationship with a man since early that year. (33) This stopped a lot of speculation about his sexual orientation, but a lot of people seemed to miss that he also said: "I still fancy girls, but at the moment I've never been happier." Although he used no specific label, he would seem to be bisexual rather than gay.

Daley later said it was a tough decision to speak out about his private life. He said: "I'd never felt the feeling of love, it happened so quickly, I was completely overwhelmed by it to the point I can't get him out of my head all the time."

While other sports stars, such as Gareth Thomas, Clare Balding, John Amaechi and Steve Davies (the cricketer) were very supportive (34), his announcement met with some, sadly predictable abuse on Twitter. (35) Possibly the most bizarre instance was that of the Westboro Baptist Church (36), who blamed the tragic Glasgow helicopter crash on Daley’s coming out as a "fag (bi-pervert)". [Ah, the power of gay!]

At the very end of 2013, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation for the first time, becoming the country’s first openly lesbian parliamentary minister. (37)

Her sexuality had been an ‘open secret’, but the 61 year old minister officially came out in a recent interview with the Rheinische Post. (38) When asked what she had planned for New Year’s Eve, Hendrick said she would be celebrating with her partner (39) in Berlin: "We will take a bottle of champagne and a pair of glasses in the backpack and clink our glasses to welcome in 2014."

While she has previously kept her personal life private, she has been a vocal supporter of LGBTI rights in the Bundestag.

Notes:
1. She received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary award bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment".
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57U8mcfqsgo; a CNN clip with an interesting discussion by two reporters following Foster’s speech.
11. Ibid.
21. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GLAAD
23. American LGBT civil rights organisation; http://www.hrc.org/
24. You can see a recording of his speech here (c. 10 mins): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzURem24MQU
39. The German word she used (Lebenspartnerin) is clearly a female form of the word.









For support on coming out, you can visit the Lesbian and Gay Foundation's website, www.lgf.org.uk/comingout, where you’ll find lots of practical advice and some tips to remember before coming out.

They've also produced a guide for the families of those who have come out. Our Kids Are Alright! is available to download:
http://www.lgf.org.uk/downloads/212
(you will be prompted to download or save the pdf file).




Collateral Damage
While we celebrate those who were able to come out, we should remember that in some cases there was 'collateral damage'.

For a partner or spouse to discover after years, sometimes decades, that their relationship is not what they thought it was can be devastating and traumatic to say the least. The effect on children of the relationship can be just as troubled.

Feelings may range from betrayal through shame (at having been fooled, for instance) to relief (now it's obvious why things were rocky). Often the partner will have no idea of where to turn for advice or support. Here are some ideas:

Straight Partners Anonymous
http://www.straightpartnersanonymous.co.uk
Contact: teresa.copp@ntlworld.com or spaorganisation@gmail.com

US sites
http://www.straightspouse.org/
http://www.gayhusbands.com/

Channel 4 documentary My Husband’s Gay told 4 different stories:
http://www.caledonia.tv/productions/fullcatalogue/video.aspx?id=1305
(Sadly, I could not find the actual video.)

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