Ways to say I’m gay (or not)

25 Feb

You may have watched or read about Ellen Page’s speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference on Valentine’s Day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hlCEIUATzg). It was about the important work the HRC does that benefits not just LGBTTQQ folks–it benefits humanity, it was about love, it was about the easy and powerful choice to be kind (that we somehow eschew), it was about the ridiculousness of having a celebrity say something you already know about yourselves. And Page came out during the speech.

It’s my hope that the folks listen to the whole speech and takeaway from it a myriad of observations, reflections and perspectives, including–but not just–that Page is gay.

One of my takeaways came after the speech, after The Guardian went to press with an article covering the speech. Journalist  Jane Czyzselska noted, “Some gay people, such as Sir Patrick Stewart, think Page’s coming out speech is newsworthy” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/17/ellen-page-coming-out-news-gay-people?CMP=twt_gu).

There are at least three interesting facets to this statement:

  1. That the entire 8.5 min speech has become “Page’s coming out speech” (obliterating the occasion for the speech, including the immediate audience for the speech, and the issues that are the reason why Page came out during the speech or would need to “come out” at all).
  2. That of all people, only “some gay people” are taking note of Page’s speech. (Which is a direct descendant of the notion that homophobia is a gay issue, not a people-of-all-sexualities issue.)
  3. That Sir Patrick Stewart is gay. Apparently, this was news to SPS, too. But it made sense to Czyzselska, since, after all, according to the article’s logic, you must be gay if you are going to bother speaking up in support of Page’s coming out.

I thought Stewart’s response to his public–and in this case, inaccurate–outing was, in itself, “newsworthy.” While silence can sometimes speak volumes, so, too, can tweeting (https://twitter.com/SirPatStew):

  • “But @guardian I have, like, five or even SEVEN hetero friends and we totally drink beer and eat lots of chicken wings!”
  • “Well, @guardian it makes for a nice change…at least I didn’t wake up to the internet telling me I was dead again.”
  • “Silly @guardian. You can’t catch gay by hanging out with #LGBT people.”

The Guardian promptly corrected its error: “Some people, such as Sir Patrick Stewart, think Page’s coming out speech is newsworthy…”

Yes, indeed.

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