Is Coming Out A Career Boost?
A Personal Greater Good
There's a headline on an Instinct magazine opinion piece that asks if celebrities are coming out as LGBTQ - in whatever spot along the spectrum that they find themselves - in order to boost their careers.
The question is disturbing, if for no other reason that if it's true, it could serve to diminish what people go through in the coming out process.
Consider this: we hold our celebrities up, for the most part, as role models that we look up to and respect. There's a certain degree of emulation as well, but generally, there are many of us who look at the celebrity culture that surrounds us and want to make judgments and adjustments of our own behaviors based on what we see from them.
If there are celebrities who come out because they feel it will help their career along, what does that mean for the countless others who simply come out because they need to be truthful to who they are?
Any suggestion that someone would come out in order to put themselves in some sort of advantageous position for employment is abhorrent. By suggesting that this is the case - that people come out in order to make themselves look heroic and therefore make themselves more "employable" - there is also a suggestion that there is a lack of sincerity about coming out.
Ellen DeGeneres and her public coming out story is incredibly well-known, and while it seemed as though coming out, for her, was more of a burden than it was a "reward" of sorts, it's pretty clear that she chose to come out because she needed to, and her profession had nothing to do with it.
Look at it this way: DeGeneres ended up losing her career and had to rebuild as a result of coming out in the way that she did. Anyone who watched her sitcom Ellen when she did come out will see it as the incredibly brave, important moment that it was - it paved the way for so many others to come out - and not see it as her thinking that she had somehow garnered greater celebrity status by coming out in the episode. She lost everything with that episode, and while she ended up gaining so much more, it took a long time for her career to bounce back and soar into the stratosphere.
I get that people are looking at Aaron Carter's coming out and the uptick in his popularity and thinking that he just did it because he wanted to be more of a celebrity than he has been. His coverage has increased dramatically since he came out, and so, it would seem, has the number of bookings he's gotten to perform.
But suggestions that a celebrity - anyone, really - would decide to say they are gay, or bi, or trans, or whatever the case might be for some sort of professional good is ridiculous.
It diminishes what the person has gone through to get to the point where they can stand up and say, "You know what? In order to be my authentic self, I need to come out, and I'm going to own it."
Aaron Carter Didn't Come Out To Boost Personal Ranking
Don't Trivialize Coming Out
There are too many kids and adults out there who continue to live closeted, and it's because of beliefs like those expressed in the Instinct article. Coming out is not a tool to be used at someone's discretion because they think there's some sort of benefit to it professionally.
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It's something someone does because they need to be honest about who they are, both to themselves and to everyone else in their lives.
It's something that happens because of a need for authenticity.
It's something that happens because it needs to.
Aaron Carter probably didn't sit there and decide that the best thing for him to do was to come out, as that would magically make the recent charges against him disappear or shoot his career into the stratosphere.
He did it because as he said, it was something he's known since he was in his early teens, and he'd finally come to terms with it.
Coming out isn't some sort of magical "everything is awesome" card that suddenly makes your troubles disappear and your personal life get better.
It's a challenging, complex process that individuals need to work through on their own in order to be able to own it and be authentic in their lives.
Don't make it something trivial.
Oprah And Ellen Talk About The "Coming Out" Episode
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 12, 2017:
I don't think gay people "come out" as a career move.
Although society is more accepting of gay celebrities it's still a calculated risk. I suspect there are many who remain in the closet.