I don’t watch Oprah much. But seeing this is her 25th (wow, amazing) and final year, I do plan to catch it more often. OWN (Oprah’s Own Network) only pulls me in more because I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes shows and pre-planned, tear-jerker, reunion moments. Plus, Mystery Diagnosis is the best show EVER and I was psyched when I saw it on OWN’s schedule. But I digress.
I did catch Oprah once this week and it was a montage of past GLBT guests and how they changed the lives of viewers at the time. After all these years, some of the viewers came on the show to tell us how X changed their lives. “When Greg Louganis came out, he gave me the courage to come out myself.” … “When Ellen risked her entire career to be who she truly was, it gave me the confidence to do it myself.”
I can’t imagine how SAD it is going through years, or half one’s life, or unfortunately, ALL one’s life hiding who you really are. I can’t imagine how hard it is to come out, how scary it is thinking of reactions from your parents, your friends, your classmates, your coworkers, even strangers on the street. I remember when one of my friends came out to me. He started to cry, asked for tissues, and I had no idea what he was going to tell me. I thought he was going to tell me about an illness. Then when he came out with the words, “I’m gay”, I almost wanted to laugh! He was flaming gay! But it was no laughing matter for him, so I didn’t laugh. I was so happy for HIM, to choose to be out. He expressed his surprise that no one he told was that shocked. But to him, to make this official announcement, was a very big step, even though we all knew it.
Back to Oprah. There was one female viewer who came on the show and talked about how ridiculous one past guest was who had been married for years and years, who then “found out” she was a lesbian. This happily married, heterosexual viewer questioned how her husband could NOT have known, how come there weren’t clues, how could that possibly be a shock? Then a year later this viewer was at a work conference, met a woman, felt “sparks”, and returned to tell her husband that she was in love with a woman. Woah, there’s a turn-around! The kicker was that her husband’s response was very supportive and within the same conversation, admitted to having feelings for men that he had never shared with anyone. Now they’re divorced and both openly gay.
Later in the show, they talked about love and gender being “fluid”. What a perfect adjective. Even at a young age, I learned you can love a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. But as a heterosexual, I only had boys in mind. Not that I personally prescribe to such fluidity in my own relationships and gender, but I certainly accept it in others. Why do people care so much about others’ home life that they waste their energy soap-boxing against it? What’s it to them? Well, maybe they’re jealous of the life they themselves couldn’t admit to. Speaking of, you can read the “Top 5 Republican Gay Sex Scandals” here.
I’ve probably been mistaken for gay before. I’m not girly, I had very short, shaved hair for a while, and I have a defined jaw bone. joked to my friend down the street how people at school probably think we’re lesbians because we’re always picking up each other’s kids, helping each other out, passing-on notes from the school to the other, etc. When I worked full time during the summers, my (teacher) husband and his guy friend used to take our daughter out to eat when we lived in Cambridge. They both assumed others thought they were gay. (And considering his friend is a big guy over 6 feet tall, I know in which part of the equation my baby-faced husband fell.) It didn’t bother them; not a bit. I love when people, especially guys, are confident enough in who they are to not let others’ perceptions of them bother them or alter their lunch plans.
I read someone’s reaction recently to the increase of GLBT’s coming out of the closet. This person was commenting that people are subscribing to a gay lifestyle because it’s “cool” or because they’re mistaking their natural curiosities for genuine love. Puh-lease! Who would choose a lifestyle that runs the risk of physical harm from homophobes, or losing friends or family, or losing health benefits at your job?
There are currently five states and one district (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, District of Columbia) that have legalized same-sex marriage. That’s a good start. It’s good to see more openly gay characters on TV, although it would be nice to see more skin colors, too! When do you think we’ll see an openly gay, dark black woman on TV (Woopie, are you out yet?) But white gay guys? Oh yeah, totally cool.
The TV and internet have probably helped hundreds of thousands of people come out, or sort out their feelings, or at least raise their acceptance level. Apparently, it can also spread the news that will (rightfully) ruin one’s hypocritical career. 🙂
And seriously, you have to check out Mystery Diagnosis.