Monday, December 2, 2013

YouTube: A Newer, More Efficient Way of Coming Out

Has the British diver Tom Daley, bronze medalist at last year's London Olympics, just introduced us to the future of coming out?  In a remarkable five-minute clip the 19-year-old posted on YouTube this morning (and linked to on Twitter, where he has over two million followers), Daley comes out as bisexual* and explains why he chose to do so in a homemade video and not the more traditional print interview or TV sitdown: "I didn't want my words twisted."

Daley's announcement, which includes the preface "In an ideal world I wouldn't be doing this video because it shouldn't matter," is admirable for a number of reasons -- it remains unusual, obviously, for anyone at the top of their sport to come out while they're still competitive, and Daley has very publicly dealt with bullying in the past (Jack William Cooper has collected at Storify some of the homophobic Twitter abuse that was hurled at him today) -- but as much as anything else I admire it for its simplicity.

Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, when I was a teenager coming out to friends and family by piecemeal (I did it on couches, in cars -- in all the places where my peers were having clandestine sex, I was bumblingly telling relatives I was gay), I would have loved to have so efficient a means of coming out at my disposal, but not everyone was online then.  If I had it to do over today, one quick text or e-mail blast and I'd be done: "Hey guys, I'm gay.  By the way, we're out of milk."

* 12/4/13 Update: Daley has since clarified to talk show host Jonathan Ross that he is not currently labeling his sexuality, saying, "Everything is all pretty new so I don't see any point in putting a label on it - gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I'm dating a guy and couldn't be happier, it shouldn't matter who I'm dating and I hope people can be happy for me." A question I'd like to see asked now is whether Daley's rumored boyfriend, Oscar-winning screenwriter and gay rights activist Dustin Lance Black, helped shape his YouTube speech or if that was all Daley. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Actress Maria Bello Comes Out in New York Times Piece

Actress Maria Bello, she of a zillion TV shows and movies more people should see (The Cooler, A History of Violence) has written a piece in this weekend's New York Times about telling her son and the rest of the family that her friendship with a woman has turned romantic.  But keep it in your pants, squealing Law & Order: Special Acronyms Unit fangirls, because that woman is not Bello's BFF Mariska Hargitay. *

Bello's article, part of the Modern Love series, is a pleasant, low-key read and in line with the growing trend of casual celebrity outings.

* Because there exist on the Internet a gazillion photos of Bello and Hargitay gazing at each other more adoringly than some couples who have been married for forty years, I will direct you to basic Google image search results rather than select a photo to accompany this post.

12/1/2013 Update: Bello's announcement is starting to get picked up on gossip blogs and mentioned by bastions of journalistic integrity like the Daily Mail.  As of this writing one of the Mail's top headlines is "Prisoners actress Maria Bello comes out as gay and reveals she has a long-term girlfriend."  This is not quite true.  Well, it's true that her name is Maria Bello and that she appears in Prisoners, but anyone who bothered reading her piece in the Times (which the Mail "article" quotes at length, so presumably someone there at least tried to read it while copying and pasting the details) would know that she does not call herself gay in it, and that her current relationship is still relatively new.  That's sort of the whole point of what she wrote, you see.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I'm Thankful for an Awful TV Movie About a Tormented Closet Case Starring the Mom from Harry Potter and Cora from Downton Abbey

Janet McTeer in Daphne: "That's what I get for not reading the script."

Five years ago this Thanksgiving my life changed forever, but it would be months before I knew it.

As I slept that night, a stranger who couldn't sleep – a stranger then living hundreds of miles away – found herself watching the BBC Two production of Daphne and regarding the screen with increasing disbelief at its epic crumminess. By the end, having watched a sullen and snappish Daphne du Maurier (lifelessly rendered by Geraldine Somerville) sulk and throw tantrums for 90 minutes because Ellen Doubleday (played by Elizabeth McGovern in the same pinched, pale style she now brings to her role as Cora on Downton Abbey), the publisher's wife and heterosexual object of her desire, couldn't magically turn gay for her – this while alternately rejecting Janet McTeer's Gertrude Lawrence and having strangely unsexy extramarital rendezvous with her – the insomniac was borderline enraged.

Turning to Google, she looked for reassurance that she wasn't alone in the opinion that Daphne was, for want of a more polite term, unmitigated crap. That's when she found this little whatsit I'd posted months earlier. And then, with a click of the mouse, the insomniac and I were introduced, more or less by search engine algorithm. Had she conducted the same search a week earlier or later, had the tides of the Internet shifted, she might have been treated to different results. Sometimes in the present day, when I say or do something idiotic (an event that reliably happens in hourly intervals), she must turn toward the heavens and mournfully cry, "Why didn't I use Yahoo?!" But Google brought us together that night, though it would be awhile still before we met.

Boredom compelled the insomniac to read more of my posts (as boredom had once compelled me to write them), but I remained unaware of her existence until some months later, when she sent the tiniest of e-mails to congratulate me on a minor achievement. I responded with similar (and uncharacteristic) brevity. We did not know each others' names then or really anything about each other. Our exchanges were short and impersonal. For weeks I was uncertain even of her gender and privately entertained the notion – it was possible, I knew, based on the demographics of my readership – that she was a drag queen.

So naturally it follows that we'd end up together within months (it turns out she wasn't a drag queen), and that today we will celebrate our fifth Thanksgiving as a couple. We have marked the occasion in all of our previous Novembers together by watching Daphne on Thanksgiving, after spending the day before Thanksgiving groaning at the thought of having to watch Daphne. When I mentioned last week that it was almost Daphne time, the insomniac groaned, "Already?!", much as she glares at me throughout the year when I sing "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" while preparing dinner or deliberately provoke her with cheerful references to "queer anti-climaxes" and "the most extraordinary thrill." 

Today would mark, for this poor woman who has been burdened enough by choosing me for her partner, the sixth year in a row of watching Daphne. To give her something to be thankful for this year, besides our health and our love and the life we've built together, I am officially releasing her from the bondage of Daphne. We don't have to watch a "keen archer" stomp around the moors tonight, indignant that a straight lady won't put out for her. We don't have to listen to any of that business about being "a boy of eighteen" when one is actually a middle-aged woman. Instead we can watch whatever she wants, if she wants to watch anything at all. I do hope, though, that it isn't Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. One viewing of that was enough.

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