‘Coming Out’ on Social Media: Why it Still Matters
Reading comments anywhere on the Internet is never a good idea — best avoided if at all possible.
Online comments are either vile and hateful, righteous and indignant or good ole’ fashioned Internet troll fuel. Most people just ignore these less-than-constructive commentators and give an eye roll, confident that if they did respond it wouldn’t do much good.
But one common Internet remark is particularly harmful, especially to LGBT folks.
Last week, YouTube twins Austin and Aaron Rhodes uploaded a video where they revealed to their father over the phone that they were both gay. Given that these twins are good-looking and already have a large Internet following, the video took off. It showed up on websites here, here, here, here and here. Heck, the brothers even ended up sitting down with Ellen.
Scroll down to the bottom of these stories or take a look at the Facebook comments and you’ll see the typical responses. You’ll see the gay slurs and religious objections, zealous approval and congratulatory messages. And then you’ll see these gems:
This is what we call the “gay people are the ones making a ‘big deal’ about being gay, and if they’d just shut up and go home no one would care” argument — a classic. There are so many problems with this argument, and it is so frustrating that I can only start with this first very important thought:
When have things EVER improved for LGBT people by keeping quiet? Really, think about it.
If people had kept quiet during The Stonewall Riots, surely police brutality of LGBT people would have stopped on its own. Oh, and if leaders like Harvey Milk and Sylvia Rivera had kept quiet, things would have worked themselves out. And Edith Windsor — she should have just stayed home.
You might personally be accepting, but coming out is still a “big deal” for many people.
I get it. You are so progressive and so accepting. How could anyone possibly still think bad thoughts about LGBT people? “It’s so crazy, surely it isn’t a reality anymore,” you say to yourself. “These gays are just being dramatic.”
Well, I hate to break it to you. It is still a “big deal” for some people. When LGBT people are not assaulted, murdered, ridiculed or driven to suicide just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, then we can *maybe* talk. In a perfect world, coming out shouldn’t be a big deal. But for many it is still a matter of life and death.
Coming out publicly still serves a purpose. We need more people to do it.
While many saw Austin and Aaron’s coming out video as a publicity stunt or a way to get more YouTube views, their intent really doesn’t matter. A large group of people were inspired by their bravery. They saw a loving father begin to accept his sons for who they are — and the more young LGBT kids that see this message, the more will have courage to be themselves.
The reason these public coming out stories are necessary is because the very same people who are asking “what’s the big deal?” are the one’s making it a BIG DEAL by dismissing LGBT stories.
I’ve really got to stop reading the comments.