Media’s acceptance of coming out will bring us together

I’ve been hard-pressed to find someone my age that doesn’t support same-sex marriage. I feel as though our generation has made great strides in seeing marriage rights as human rights, analogous to the right to pursue happiness, and I’ve always been extremely proud to be a part of such an inclusive and progressive group of young adults.

Last semester I took a philosophy class entitled “Contemporary Moral Issues,” where we discussed a variety of topics including abortion, stem cell research, education and the war on drugs. While the class disagreed on a majority of the topics, I was shocked to find that we all agreed when it came to the debate over legalizing same sex-marriage. That particular class period was actually quite dull because none of us could counter our professor’s “devil’s advocate” remarks about why same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal.

When Ellen Page came out last month at the Time to THRIVE conference, she was met with incredible support from the audience, her fans and the media. Although she received support after coming out, she pointed out that before the speech, she was afraid to come out because that meant she was not living up to Hollywood’s standards.

I have always found it rather ridiculous that homosexual celebrities announcing their sexuality make headline news. Imagine if every straight celebrity’s sexuality was broadcast across the media: People magazine would read “Beyonce is heterosexual” and CNN reporters would announce “Ryan Reynolds likes women.”

The problem with making celebrities’ coming out such a media whirl is that young people are then made to think that their own sexuality needs to be hidden and may be scrutinized if revealed to others. Even the phrase “coming out of the closet” makes it seem like homosexuality is a secret that people keep until they finally break and have to tell someone.

It’s a shame when celebrities, athletes and other figure heads face so much scrutiny after coming out, because it sends the message that no matter how inclusive the younger generation is, the media still place a huge emphasis on sexuality.

Ellen Page’s coming out story, however, gives me hope because it was treated as a celebration, offering congratulations to her for being brave enough to announce one of her biggest secrets to the world. All coming out stories (for celebrities and non-celebrities) should be celebrations – of the beginning of an easier future for those who struggled in the past with their identity.

Ellen Page’s story is a step in the right direction. I hope the media continues to congratulate those who have the courage to be themselves in a world that isn’t always fully accepting of them. If attitudes keep changing and love keeps spreading, we can one day live in the kind of society where sexual orientation brings us together rather than tears us apart.

Nayna Shah is a freshman majoring in music composition.