There’s been a lot of talk lately about what it means to forcibly ‘out’ other people, particularly if that person happens to be famous. Revealing your sexuality to others should be your own choice, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. This was recently exemplified with Tony Labrusca and public speculation over a photo of him next to another man.
Whether or not this photo actually meant anything wasn’t really anyone else’s business. But that didn’t stop them from speculating. Maybe it was because he was already getting some hate at the time. Maybe it’s because he’s a celebrity. Whatever the reason, his privacy was violated.
Some would say that privacy isn’t enough reason to protect a celebrity. Being forcibly outed may be a terrible thing, but by virtue of being famous, it becomes an inevitable reality. I see people online arguing that when a person chooses a career in the spotlight, they give up all claims to privacy. I don’t think this should be true. Realizing your passion or skill lies in performing for a crowd or acting in front of a camera doesn’t automatically invalidate your right to have a private life.
Just because a person chooses a career which could put them in the path of fame doesn’t mean they have to give up everything for it. Performers and personalities are tied to their craft, and not to the attention it brings them. Sure, a good number of them do bask in the stardom, but why does that make them any less deserving of privacy?
Worse than that are people who think celebrities have some sort of obligation to be completely open about their sexuality — especially if they’re non-heterosexual. There is a belief that since these individuals have fan bases and a wider ability to appeal to audiences, they should be at the forefront fighting for LGBTQ+ acceptance. People think that because they might gain more traction for the LGBTQ+ movement then their choice to remain silent isn’t valid.
Their position as celebrities and influencers in society puts no kind of responsibility on their shoulders. The extent of their duties to the greater society is maybe refraining from advocating harmful behaviors or abusing their fame in any way. Being a social battering ram for any movement or belief is not part of that. They have made no promises to the people, they have no contracts weighing them down. Support and advocacies ought to remain a choice.
At the end of the day, choice is still the value that calls for the most respect in this situation. ‘Coming out’ is a deeply personal decision. It affects the way people will see you, the way they’ll act towards you, and even the treatment that you’ll receive. But most importantly, it affects the way you will feel about yourself.
Revealing and accepting your sexuality should be something you choose to do, and at your own terms. No one has the right to take that away. And no one deserves to have that taken away from them.
(12 LGBTQ+ Coming Out Stories and What We Can Learn From Them)
Where do you stand on celebrities being forcibly outed?