All Articles Tagged "coming out"
When I heard Carolyn Moos’ story, the woman who was engaged to gay, basketball player Jason Collins, I felt sorry for her but I couldn’t say I was exactly surprised. There are a lot of men, particularly black men, who are in severe denial about who they are. While Jason was wrong, he’s certainly not alone. I know that from personal experience. I’ve never been in a serious relationship with a gay man but in middle school and high school, the time when we become aware and start acting on our sexuality, three gay boys tried to date me.
I could take such advances as a threat to my womanhood; but instead, I realize the confusion and desperation these boys must have been feeling at the time. And for whatever reason, I was the “last resort” girl.
First there was Adam Baxter. I met Adam in 6th grade. He sang in choir with me and hung out with all girls except for one other boy, who we also assumed was gay…or at least bisexual. In addition to choir, Adam and I had a couple of classes together. We became fast friends because he was pretty hilarious. He’d literally sashay up to us, chest stuck out, wrist broken to share a quip, some gossip or a compliment about one of our outfits. And when our interactions were over, he’d swish away. These may sound like severely exaggerated characteristics, but I promise you that was his steelo. So imagine my surprise when one day, my friend told me that she and Adam were dating. Umm…ok. If she liked it, I loved it. After all, we were in sixth grade, the days when having a boyfriend was of supreme importance. I figured it was a relationship of convenience. It lasted a week.
Naturally, I assumed they broke up because she no longer wanted to date someone who was gay. But apparently, this wasn’t a conversation they’d ever had. Because two weeks later, as proper middle school dating decorum would dictate, Adam asked me out.
We were standing in the lunch line waiting for our tater tots and Fruitopia talking about something insignificant when all of a sudden Adam’s tone shifted. He looked in my eyes and said, “Veronica, do you want to go out with me?” I couldn’t believe it. And before I even had time to give a polite response I blurted an appalled “No.” If I had any doubt that Adam wasn’t gay, his reaction to my rejection removed all doubt. The boy literally put his hand to his heart, dropped his jaw and said “Ugh.” I chuckled a bit to myself before I apologized and explained that I didn’t like him like that and we went back to being friends.
You could assume that Adam was just severely effeminate but by the time we got to high school, even though we went to separate schools, news of his “coming out” somehow made it back to me. Absolutely no surprise there.
After Adam there was Justin in 8th grade. Just like Adam, Justin and I were really good friends. I didn’t know for sure that Justin was gay. I just knew that in 8th grade, when the knuckleheads around me were trying desperately to assert their manhood, Justin was just a bit more sensitive. He asserted his like for me a little less aggressively. He sent an anonymous note that read:
Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet. Guess who likes you?
Earlier this week we reported on Washington Wizards player Jason Collins’ decision to come out as the first openly gay male playing in the NBA. Intrigued by Jason’s revelation, fans had many unanswered questions. Since his coming out, Jason has sat down with a couple of news outlets including Sports Illustrated and Good Morning America, but we’ve just learned that the 34-year-old Los Angeles native will also be appearing on an upcoming episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter. The media maven went took to her Twitter page yesterday to talk up her exclusive interview.
A recently distributed press release on Oprah’s upcoming sit down reveals that the Next Chapter interview will stand out from all the rest because she will actually be interviewing his family as well.
“Oprah Winfrey will speak with NBA player Jason Collins; his twin brother, Jarron; and the Collins family for their first interview together on the heels of Jason Collins becoming the first active pro athlete in one of the four major American team sports to announce that he is gay. The special episode of Oprah’s Next Chapterwill air this Sunday, May 5, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Jason Collins reflects on the worldwide reaction following his decision to reveal that he is a gay man and remarks how he hopes his story will further the conversation around equality. Oprah and Collins are joined by his twin brother, former NBA player Jarron Collins; his parents, Portia and Paul Collins; his sister-in-law, Elsa Collins; and Teri Jackson, his aunt and a San Francisco Superior Court judge, who was the first family member he came out to,” the news release reads.
Jason’s Next Chapter interview is scheduled to air Sunday, May 5th at 7:30/6:30 c.
Turn the page for a sneak peek.
If you need proof of how much the business of coming out has changed, take a look at the career trajectory of Ellen DeGeneres. The TV star saw ratings on her self-titled sitcom tank when she wrote her gay lifestyle into the script. Fast-forward 16 years and the openly gay, married comic is the queen of daytime talk shows.
Now we have news that Washington Wizards center Jason Collins has come out — on the cover of Sports Illustrated, no less — and he’s greeted with support from across the NBA, from the public, and even past and current Presidents and politicians.
Prejudice against members of LGBTQ community still exists but being a bigot just isn’t acceptable anymore. For many in the LGBTQ community, we’re living at a time that was decades in the making. On the flip side, we’ve also reached the point where stars are accused of coming out for profit. Who saw that coming?
The media and fellow celebrities still question whether Frank Ocean’s admission that a man was the subject of love songs on his debut album “Channel Orange” was a ploy for publicity.
Ocean received a warmer welcome out of the closet than many expected. Especially considering he operates in the world of hip-hop where misogyny and homophobia are accepted as the norm. Collins is taking on a similarly biased industry, becoming the first openly gay actively playing professional athlete. He admitted to Sports Illustrated, “I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie.”
Collins’ announcement is no doubt the product of a difficult internal struggle and required great bravery. But some are already questioning his intentions. New York radio station Hot 97 asks if the move was “a tactic to gain sympathy and notoriety in hopes of getting signed because, let’s be honest, he’s not even close to being a decent player even for his position at center.”
It sounds cynical but let’s entertain the notion for a moment. Collins is at the end of his career and a free agent that, before his announcement, no team felt pressure to add to their roster. Now, if Collins isn’t picked up, it may look like the NBA blackballed him.
Acceptance Outweighs Backlash
Bigotry, even if it’s only perceived, is bad for business. Sure, Collins will have to endure a more sinister type of trash talk from less open-minded sports fans, but no one with real money to lose is to going to say anything to welcome the wrath of GLAAD and jeopardize their career.
With his announcement, Collins secures a loyal demographic that will keep money coming in long after he leaves sports. Advertisers have been reluctant to use gay spokespeople in the past but that’s changing (see Ellen DeGeneres’ deal with Cover Girl, and companies like Starbucks and Target’s support of gay marriage).
“The market is more receptive. He might be the right player at the right time to benefit from that,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. In addition to potentially expanding his current deal with Nike, Collins could also benefit from speaking engagements and book deals if he chooses.
The day is coming when coming out just won’t be a big deal whether you’re rich and famous or not. For now, we’re at a crucial point of change where, for public figures, coming out is less career death sentence than saving grace. The experiences of DeGeneres, Ocean, and Collins show others that we live in a time where being authentic can expand your opportunities if you’re brave enough to be the first to speak up.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
‘I’m Black And I’m Gay:’ NBA Player Jason Collins Pens ‘Coming Out’ Letter In New Issue Of ‘Sports Illustrated’
Washington Wizards center Jason Collins recently came out as a gay man. The 34-year-old Los Angeles native made the announcement in a thought-provoking letter published in the May 6th issue of Sports Illustrated. His letter in its entirety reads:
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.
My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.
I’ve played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you’re in the league, and I haven’t been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates’ teammates. Or one of your teammates’ teammates’ teammates.
Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.
Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.
The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.
When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, ‘Me, too.’”
Collins has already received the public support of notables such as Kobe Bryant and Bill Clinton.
What do you think of Jason’s letter?
Girl-on-girl action has become the hot thing to do for attention these days, Nicki Minaj being the most recent (and grandest) offender. But some are wondering whether Marsha Ambrosius might be in the lesbian for play play camp now after looking at the video for her new song, “F**k N Get it Over With.” Of course there’s always the other possibility too, that she’s actually into women and this is her creative coming out.
The track, which I’m sure will quickly become the club closer at the end of the night, is definitely a bedroom boom jam and the video backs up the late-night, let’s get it right tempo. Marsha is the only one we see for the majority of the clip, preparing for an intimate encounter with someone she clearly plans on finally going to bed with after much anticipation. As we watch her set out her bra and mini-skit and hop in a car scantily clad, we assume she’s headed over to give a man some good loving. But then the biggest shock of all, besides Marsha having a song with such a raw title, is that a woman in lingerie answers the door and leads Marsha into the house, so they can finally eff and get it over with.
So what’s the big deal?
One, we’re not used to seeing two women in a sexual way in a video without it being overly salacious. Some might say this scene also falls into that category, but there was something very matter-of-fact about the way the other woman was presented that I can appreciate. No one was grinding on the other for the sake of male attention as is so often the case with displays of lesbian love. These were two grown women about to do what they do because that’s what they like to do. Two, if, in fact, this is Marsha’s own coming out or even just a nod to lesbian women, I can value the presentation without all the hype over a “gay scene” so to speak or all of the theatrics over her announcing her sexual preference.
Since Marsha’s Floetry days there have been questions over her sexual orientation, and even speculation that she was in a relationship with bandmate Natalie Stewart and when they broke up as a couple, they also broke up as a group. Neither woman has ever spoken on those rumors, and though Marsha has openly talked about her connection with gay audiences, she’s never been open about who she’s laying with at the end of the night because, truthfully, it’s irrelevant to her craft. But now she seems to be letting us inside her world just a bit with the cliffhanger ending of her new music video, which incidentally debuted on National Coming Out Day yesterday. Coincidence? I think not.
The singer has yet to confirm whether what’s seen in the video is a reflection of what she does in real life, although after looking at the video what more is there to say? Kudos to her for artistically showcasing her truth without all the pomp and circumstance. Unless of course this was just a publicity move to get people to listen to the song in which case I’ll just say congratulations!
Check out the video below. What do you think about it?
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By day Anderson Cooper is a very professional, very qualified, super talented journalist who has dedicated himself to educating and informing the American people about the global and domestic issues that we need to know about. But you might not know that Anderson also moonlights as a lemonade sipping, shade throwing talk show host. I take that back. Perhaps Anderson doesn’t make a habit for reading people; but when it came to Star Jones talking about his personal decision to come out, he did not hesitate to shut her down.
Remember, earlier this year Anderson Cooper decided to come out, in his professional life, telling his colleagues and fans that he’s a gay man. There were several people who already knew this little tidbit, so it wasn’t earth shattering news; but for whatever reason, it was news that Star Jones had to speak on.
In a discussion with Andy Cohen, Anderson explained why Star Jones’ comments were surprising and hypocritical. Watch the video below.
Well, I’m with Anderson when he’s right. The trajectory of Star Jones’ career has been a bit sad if you ask me. She went from being a well educated attorney to a television personality, to a liar, divorcee to a reality show contestant. And in the midst of all of those shifts and turns, Star has managed to talk much trash. Now, I can see why she and Nene couldn’t get along on “The Apprentice.” Star just seems like the girl in high school who always wanted attention but didn’t necessarily know how to go about getting it in the right ways. Poor thing.
What do you think of Anderson’s response to Star? Was it too much or just enough?
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I’m somewhat amused at how heterosexual black men, particularly rappers, have turned Frank ocean’s coming out into an opportunity to redeem themselves from the HIV/AIDS/STD-spreading sexually promiscuous and indiscriminate labels that have been placed upon them. While elsewhere on the web, rappers like Jay-Z were celebrating Frank’s courage to be an openly gay male hip-hop artist, other lesser-known figures in the genre were suddenly concerned with the sexual health and well-being of the community rather than addressing the issue on everyone else’s mind which was how would black rappers accept a fellow rapper who was gay. Lil Scrappy first offender on that side, telling TMZ Live:
“I’m glad that [Frank Ocean] came out … so all the real women that love to mess with real men, straight men, we can keep the AIDS situation down, you feel me?” He continued on with “Homosexuality is a doorway to AIDS, scientifically.”
It doesn’t take much effort to identify the host of things that are wrong with his statement but I think his remarks have been eclipsed by ones made by rapper Killer Mike in an interview with The Grio. Questioning him about nonchalant tweets he sent after Frank Ocean came out, Killer Mike gave The Grio a similar reaction to the news, sidestepping the true issue on the table and opening up an entirely different discussion.
“Black women tend to be overly celebratory about things that directly or could directly affect them in a harmful way,” he said. “I watch black women on twitter malign heterosexual black men who they view as promiscuous. I watch them malign them every day, yet it’s harder for a woman to give HIV to a man than it is for a man to give it to a woman. I watch the same women celebrate bisexuality in a black man. I don’t judge bisexuality or homosexuality; to each his own. I grew up under wonderful gay uncles who are the reason why I went to Morehouse, the reason why I have certain fashion sensibilities. They are the ones that gave me culture because my dad and stepdad were just manly kind of men. Artistically and culturally I am who I am because of my gay uncles.
“That being said we have to admit that when engaging in anal sex; it carries a higher risk for something. So I am just amazed when I see black women who just castigate their heterosexual partners to dirt level, celebrate gay and bisexual in a way that is almost exclusive of how their distrustful they are of black women. They look down on black women and say that ‘I’m not a Slore,’ but all these other whores are. In how they look down on heterosexual men who are traditionally their partners, but they celebrate somehow another group of man that supposedly will never betray them and seek their heterosexual partner.
“I support Frank Ocean’s freedom to be who he is. I congratulate Frank Ocean. I feel that my gay uncles would be ashamed of me to be anything else. With that said, I’m not ever going to let black women who don’t let us off the hook, off the hook. I’m not going to let sisters who are the highest growing population of HIV cases off the hook either. There is some sick s*it in our community we got to get our head around. That’s a problem.”
For starters, when it comes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic swarming through the black community, no one should be let off the hook. Men and women of all sexual orientations are responsible for the spread and finger pointing and preconceived notions about the likelihood of one particular group continuing its spread is not only counterproductive, but likely part of the reason the numbers continue to rise among us as they do.
When I observed the celebration of Frank Ocean’s coming out by black men and women alike, the down-low phenomenon seemed to be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. People weren’t celebrating the fact that a man who we still don’t know is bisexual or simply homosexual was coming clean and confessing his sexual orientation as some sort of obligation. What garnered so much attention was the fact that a member of such a seemingly homophobic musical genre as hip-hop was brave enough and comfortable enough with himself and who he sleeps with at night to out himself voluntarily and accept any potential backlash that could come with it. While it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that certain artists wouldn’t want to work with him in the future, I certainly didn’t foresee his openness as an opportunity to speak on HIV/AIDS or to try to put black women on blast. But as is customary these days, that’s what this has turned into.
If you’re a sucker for headlines like me, then you probably clicked on one of the many articles saying Queen Latifah came out during her performance at the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade May 19 and thought, huh? The so-called proof for this coming out of the closet was the fact that while she was MC-ing the event, she stated “Y’all my peeps, I love you!” and suddenly that meant she was admitting to being a lesbian.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with the queen to ask her about the buzz over her assumed homosexual admission and she told the site:
“That definitely wasn’t the case. I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen.”
She also explained the “my peeps” statement and why she was showing love to the LGBTQ community.
“To me, doing a gay pride show is one of the most fun things. My first show that paid more than $10,000 was in a gay club on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Tupac happened to be in town, so he came to kick it with me. This was the early ’90s. And the boys were like, ‘Take your shirt off, Tupac!’ He wasn’t doing that. But we had a blast in there.”
I’m pretty sure someone is going to think she just outed Tupac as well, but I’m going to leave that alone. The bottom line is if at 42 Dana Owens hasn’t come out to say I’m a lesbian yet, let’s just accept that it’s not gone happn.’
Do you think Queen Latifah should have let the coming out story stand or is it good she explained her comment?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By Dana Stringer
Queen Latifah arrived with her royal court to an amped and enthusiastic crowd of subjects summoned to celebrate the 29th Annual Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival on Saturday, May 19.
The annual event held in Long Beach, California boasts of drawing approximately 100,000 attendees each year, making it the 2nd largest Pride festival in California and 4th largest in the nation. With such star power like Queen Latifah embracing this year’s event and taking the stage, attendance was presumably higher because everybody loves to see and hear a queen. And there was only one way for Her Highness to make her grand entrance, and that was upon the wings of rap hits like U.N.I.T.Y.and Ladies First.
Similar to the title of her 2003 film Bringing Down the House, Queen Latifah came hyped, energized and ready to do just that. She brought it in more ways than one, bridging songs with inspiring and encouraging words by telling the crowd to let their inner light shine in the world and to conquer hate with love.
It wasn’t just her Covergirl glow that radiated from the main stage and mesmerized festival goers; it was the light of her transparency emanating from within. The moment she uttered, I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time, the crowd knew she was prepared to reflect all sides of herself throughout her musical performance.
See what else the Queen had to say over at Eurweb.com.
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Queen Latifah has been notoriously private about her suspected lesbian lifestyle so the fact that she’s participating in the upcoming Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival appears to be a “coming out” for the actress, even if she doesn’t say a word.
The Queen will headline the festival which will take place May 19 and is the city’s second biggest annual event, drawing around 75,000 attendees over two days. Details about her performance have been kept totally on the low but everyone is wondering whether Ms. Dana Owens will stand before the masses acknowledging herself as a lesbian woman or simply come on stage, do her thing, and let the public speculate as they’ve been doing for years. That’s probably the best route to go because the moment Queen Latifah decides to come out, the press will be running behind her day and night trying to get her to speak on life as a lesbian woman, and for someone who doesn’t run seeking attention from the media I feel that would be a bit much for the Queen.
It won’t be much longer until we have an answer—or proof of one—but more power to her if this move signifies she’s more comfortable being who she is. And if not, we’re still sure she’ll give a great performance.
What do you think about Queen Latifah’s gig? Is it a huge deal or no biggie?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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