Earlier this year, I watched Jodie Foster’s rambling speech as she kind of told the world that she was gay. Although for many, such news about Foster’s sexuality has been an open secret; for Foster, being in the public eye from a very young age, she has been fiercely protective over her private life, seeing it as the one thing she has full control off. Of course, there is also the added factor that Foster grew up in a time when homosexuality, particularly in Hollywood, was not celebrated in quite the same way it is today. With this in mind, I imagine when Foster left that stage, a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders, or at least I hope so.
In my lifetime I have met men who have kept their sexuality a secret from either their families or work colleagues for any number of reasons, from fear of being rejected, or thought of as not a real man, whatever that may mean.
When I was growing up in the 1970’s, gay role models were far and few between. And those that were around have always been demonised for being too camp; for example, John Inman’s character (Mr. Humphries) in, Our You Being Served. Personally, I’ve always seen him as a champion of gay visibility. Instead of getting worried that I didn’t quite act like him, I saw an independent gay man, holding a senior position in the work place, respected by all his work colleges and reading between the lines was getting plenty of sex.
Love or loath John Inman, it is without doubt that he, along with other camp men, helped pave the way for others from the LGBT community to be themselves, to show that their sexuality, although an extremely important part of them, is only one facet of what makes them who they are. Since those wilderness years, when gay men in the media where as hard to spot as hen’s teeth, more and more high profile men and women from all walks of life, from politicians, to film stars, pop stars as well as sports personalities have stood up and said I’m gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and found that instead of their being some huge outcry, the news has been celebrated. This is fantastic for young and old LGBT people alike who may be hesitant about coming out and wanting to find a role model and to take that liberating step of being open about who they are.
As 2013 hurtles along, there will no doubt be a whole clutch of men and women will speak openly and proud about their LGBT sexuality, and hopefully in time when someone comes out, it will be acknowledged in the same way people are recognised as being straight. In the meantime it’s great to see so many LGBT people, past and present, from all walks of life are ignoring the fear and hatred spewed out by some people and organisation, (particularly some religious organisations) and are stepping out of the closet and in doing so, helping to strengthen the fight for sexual equality for all.