I have controversial talks about being gay and “out” all the time, and am happy that the world (well, the one I live in) is finally moving toward inclusiveness instead of diverse separation. The you and them is diminishing. More and more people are realizing that they actually don’t give a shit about who's gay and who’s straight. Through the media and the increasing number of popular people sharing their stories, we’re getting to a place where there’s not that much difference between “you" and "them” (LGBTQ and straights). To take it even further, for a lot of us the “the gays” are also not demanding these big glitter-dramatic coming-out ceremonies, but instead realizing that more can be done with this platform: we can freely come out and declare our acceptance for who we are in public space.
During a work trip with a co-worker, he asked if I’d “heard the news” and proceeded to pull out his iPhone6. At this point I thought, “Is homeboy really about to brag that he got a new phone?” Really dude?… but no, even better. On the phone he showed me an article with a bold headline; “Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Comes Out as Gay.” Like most times I find myself in these situations, I began to worry about what will come out of his mouth next. At this point I’m thinking, "Dude, I really like you, so please don’t say some dumb shit generalizing all gays as the same."
In general, I couldn’t care less about any celebrities coming out, but Cook’s official confirmation can be meaningful to others. Cook, in his response to the media highlighting his sexuality (something most of us already knew), has done exactly what more celebrities and regular folk should continue to do: he said he’s gay, and was done with it. No glam, no glitter, no “coming out” ceremony. He didn’t seek any media spotlight but instead used his platform to speak his truth, not for him but for the many that it can have a profound impact on.
As if to illustrate that point, later that evening I read his post in Business Week in which he stated, “If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
That’s a response worth the $1299 I paid for this Mac I’m writing this from! I thought, "YAASS, Tim Cook, give people your truth and move on!" We need much more of this “coming out” for a purpose. When we dwell on “coming out” only for ourselves we are asking people to make a big deal of it, and this is not inclusivity. In fact, it often perpetuates inequality, by emphasizing the difference between gays and straights. Cook’s response validates the modern view that we shouldn’t care about whether the CEO of Apple is gay, straight, or is having an affair with a PC. However, because he holds such a platform, someone less fortunate who’s struggling with their self-identify can be inspired by his openness and move on to discover the hundreds of other qualities about themselves.
I could tell my co-worker was stumbling to discuss this “major headline” with such enthusiasm because he just wanted to 1. Get my perspective, and 2. Show me that he’s down with gays, and I respect that. At times I can seem unapproachable about these topics because, like being called on by my professor to offer the “African-American perspective,” it gets repetitive being asked “What do you think” just because I fit in with that minority status… come on, white people!
Wendy Williams, among her mixed messages and controversial comments on her show regarding Bruce Jenner, reiterated this point of proper inclusivity very eloquently by actually stating, “There’s a lot we need to come to terms with still in this country, like gross racism and sexism, but In 2014 there’s one accomplishment that it seems like we are moving ahead and dealing with. Whether you’re transitioning or are gay, kids/society are more understanding these days. You might not like it, but you damn sure are now outnumbered if you say something about it. It doesn’t matter what people are doing these days the point is more of us are able to live in our own truth.”
Like Williams and Cook, I’m on board with the new normal. We are almost where living your truth is the norm, and those who have a problem with it will eventually be the new minority. Yas! Consider this my holiday gift to you. Interrupt Christmas dinner this year and tell your family you’re living in your truth (whatever that may be). Then pass the gingerbread cookies and snap on that!
—Follow Chaz @IAMMYLIFE