On Barry Manilow

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 04:01 pm
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Some of the tone of the news articles about Barry Manilow has made me distinctly uncomfortable today. The vast majority of them have been along the lines of "we've known you're gay for years, and we don't care". This is mostly coming from people who want to show everybody that they are really tolerant and progressive, and I am hesitant to criticise people who are genuinely trying to improve themselves and the society around them, however...

Coming out is not easy. It really isn't. No matter how tolerant the social group you move in, it's terrifying. You don't know if someone is going to react unexpectedly, and therefore you build it up in your head to account for that possibility. Barry has clearly been building up to this for a long time, and it is a scary thing. When you've been brave enough to do something that scary, if everybody's reaction is "we know, and we don't care", that's going to be a real kick in the guts. And that's coming from me, a person approaching 40 who has grown up in a pretty tolerant atmosphere in the UK. Manilow is old enough to remember being illegal - and I use that phrase purposefully. He was illegal.

And that's without even going into the fact that there's no such thing as a coming out, singular. You come out to your family and friends one by one, usually. And then in your workplace. And then in your new workplace, every time you get a new job. And every single time you come out you have the fear and stress. Will they sack me? Will they hate me now? How will this bugger my life up?

I've been trying to think of an analogy that would work to help straight people to understand, and I can't. There is nothing so all-pervasive, that affects so many ordinary everyday conversations in the pub or workplace:
  • What did you do at the weekend?
  • how's the missus?
  • What will your boyfriend say if you do that?
  • How did your date go at the weekend?
These are normal parts of conversation that you have to be evasive about if you're not out. You have to think and consider, and remember who you've told what. It's tiring apart from anything else. Possibly if you're religious and trying to hide it that's similar? But I have never been religious, so I don't really know.

Anyway, my point is, greeting today's news with a shrug and a "so what?" doesn't show that you are tolerant and progressive. It shows that you have never been through a public coming out experience. Do better, media.

And Barry? Go you xxx
I'm proud of you, and I'm glad you have such a happy relationship. Well done.

Date: Thursday, April 6th, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Hear hear.

I'm afraid I kinda reacted a bit like that; and checked myself.

As for the other things, you're dead right. I'm not out at my new work. Not because I'm not out, and not because I'm closeted it, but because it's not *explicitity* come up, and because it's *tedious* to go through those conversations.

Also, when you're single, opportunities to have the conversation are much more limited anyway.

When you're not single, and closeted, you have to check everything you say, and second guess everyone else's contributions to these sorts of conversations. That's tiring and stressful: and contributes to the effort, energy and resolve involved in coming out.

So, it may be a relief that no-one cares about your sexuality, but they should care about the courage required to make it public.

Date: Thursday, April 6th, 2017 07:39 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Although I loved the headline I posted, I do actually get quite fed up with people saying "Of course he was gay, did you see how he acted?" and then acting like they aren't making massive stereotype judgements.

Date: Friday, April 7th, 2017 04:19 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I was so pleased to find out that he had a husband all that time! I'm very happy for him to be able to get coming out all over with now, because constantly coming out (like I had to do at the dentist last week!) is fucking stressful.

Date: Friday, April 7th, 2017 12:24 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
Such people also may not realize that the possible stress at the dentist or the GP isn't just from the chance of a negative response, it's that you might have to go through the same conversation again next visit, or three years later, for reasons ranging from bigotry and denial to the possibility of seeing a different hygienist next time, or the doctor hiring a new receptionist. Part of why I'm now seeing my girlfriend's GP is that she likes her doctor, but another piece is that I knew for sure that they were LGBT-positive.

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