By Bruce Christian, Nov. 20, 2014.
After years writing for the LGBT community, it’s time for my headline
When Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed his sexual orientation “publicly” in a Bloomberg column a couple weeks back, the story received HUGE headlines globally. Yet, just about everyone in the corporate, political and media world already knew about his sexual orientation.
Where was the story?
I suppose the story did take some people by surprise, however. Like those who asked, “Who is Tim Cook?” when they first heard or read the story.
Believe me, I don’t want to diminish the importance of Cook’s coming out, especially because of the weight it may carry for pushing passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). However, public statements of being gay or lesbian just don’t seem to have the oomph they once had.
As one friend said to me: “Everyone is gay, they just don’t know it yet.”
Well, that’s not true, but Cook’s life, before coming out, was a perfect example of the kind of life I’ve always believed LGBT people should be able to live. In the column he wrote for Bloomberg, he said: “Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself.”
It seems to me the majority of LGBT people fit that description. Few of us want our sexual orientation to be how people define us. Few of us want to hide who we are, but we also don’t necessarily feel we have to proclaim it to the rest of the world.
Covering media when former Arizona Rep. James Kolbe and former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano came out, I understand why that was news. First, it was in the mid-1990s, before the age of society’s LGBT enlightenment. They were elected officials who were serving successfully in high political offices. Because politics are ugly and opponents were threatening to out them, each decided to get ahead of the story and come out on his own terms. Each was praised for his action, and each won re-election after coming out.
Prior to their coming out, reporters would write around the suggestions and innuendo. After Kolbe and Giuliano acknowledged their orientation, reporters automatically always threw in the caveat: “openly gay.”
I never got the chance to come out on my own terms. I was outed by a woman I was dating. She felt scorned, so she decided to get revenge. Of course, I shouldn’t have been dating her in the first place. I always knew the relationship would go nowhere. I used her to provide cover for who I really was, and that was selfish of me.
Sure I felt betrayed when she announced to the newsroom that we weren’t going together anymore because I told her I was gay. But imagine how she must have felt the night I told her, after the many nights we had spent together in her bed.
Every LGBT individual should have the right to control his or her coming out — just as Kolbe, Giuliano and Cook did. All of them admit the people close to them already knew, and their orientation didn’t make a difference. That really seems to be a universal truth. Sometimes the only reason we don’t come out is the fear of losing a friend or a job, when in reality, coming out often strengthens friendships and enlightens work colleagues.
With that in mind, it’s time for me to come out on my own terms. So after all these years writing for Echo, I want my headline. I want all Echo readers to know I’m gay and I’m proud.
There I said it. Now, where is CNN?
Bruce Christian is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.