Last Thursday on 11 October we were celebrating International Coming Out Day. A nice occasion to shed light on this topic. A few keywords: Outing, Homosexuality, being different and tolerance.
Coming out: Definition
Coming out (of the closet) is a figure of speech for people’s disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Framed and debated as a privacy issue, coming out of the closet is described and experienced variously as a psychological process. Author Steven Seidman writes that ‘it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual’s life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social, and political drama in twentieth-century.’ Outing is the deliberate or accidental disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, without his or her consent. By extension, outing oneself is unintentional self-disclosure. Lastly, the glass closet means the open secret of when public figures’ being is considered a widely accepted fact even though they have not “officially” come out.
More about coming-out
Coming out – A Long Story
In 1869, one hundred years before the Stonewall Riots, the German homosexual rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrichs introduced the idea of self-disclosure as a means of emancipation. Claiming that invisibility was a major obstacle toward changing public opinion, he urged homosexual people to reveal their same-sex attractions.
The first prominent American to reveal his homosexuality was the poet Robert Duncan. In 1944, using his own name in the anarchist magazine Politics, he claimed that homosexuals were an oppressed minority. The decidedly clandestine Mattachine Society, founded by Harry Hay and other veterans of the Wallace for President campaign in Los Angeles in 1950, moved into the public eye after Hal Call took over the group in San Francisco in 1953, with many gays emerging from the closet.
With the spread of consciousness raising (CR) in the late 1960s, coming out became a key strategy of the gay liberation movement to raise political consciousness to counter sexism by heterosexuals and homophobia. At the same time and continuing into the 1980s, gay and lesbian social support discussion groups, some of which were called “coming-out groups,” focused on sharing coming-out “stories” (experiences) with the goal of reducing isolation and increasing LGBT visibility and pride.
More info about:
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
Is it natural for people to be different?
Joan Roughgarden thinks Charles Darwin made a terrible mistake. Not about natural selection – she’s no bible-toting creationist – but about his other great theory of evolution: sexual selection. According to Roughgarden, sexual selection can’t explain the homosexuality that’s been documented in over 450 different vertebrate species. This means that same-sex sexuality – long disparaged as a quirk of human culture – is a normal, and probably necessary, fact of life. By neglecting all those gay animals, she says, Darwin misunderstood the basic nature of heterosexuality.
Darwin’s theory of sex has been biological dogma ever since he postulated why peacocks flirt. His gendered view of life has become a centrepiece of evolution, one of his great scientific legacies. The culture wars over evolution and common descent notwithstanding, Darwin’s theory of sexual selection has been thoroughly assimilated into mass culture. From sitcoms to beer ads, our coital “instincts” are constantly reaffirmed. Females are wary, and males are horny. Sex is this simple. Or is it? Indeed, biology now knows better. Nobody is hornier than a female macaque or bonobo (which mount the males because the males are too exhausted to continue the fornication). Peacocks are actually the exception, not the rule.
Read this article on a gay flamingo couple (in French)
Homosexuals who dare.
Ellen De Generes. The American stand-up comedian, television host and actress (who also provided the voice of Dory in the Disney-Pixar animated film Finding Nemo), came out as a lesbian in 1997 in the TV show Oprah. That same year, she began a romantic relationship with bisexual actress Anne Heche. The bold disclosure of her sexual orientation sparked clamorous interest by American tabloids. The contentiousness of the media coverage stunted DeGeneres’ professional career and left her “mired in depression”. The couple ended their relationship in 2000.
Sir Elton John. The famous singer came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone. He married a German woman in 1984, with speculation that the marriage was a cover for his homosexuality. But after his divorce from her in 1988 he told the magazine that he was “comfortable” being gay. John has been associated with AIDS charities since the deaths of close friends. To raise money for his AIDS charity, John hosts annually a glamorous White Tie & Tiara Ball, to which many famous celebrities are invited. In 2006, a ball raised £4.6 million for his AIDS Foundation.
Ian McKellen. Sir Ian Murray McKellen is famous for his role as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. In 1988, he came out to the general public, in a programme on BBC Radio 3. The context that prompted McKellen’s decision — overriding any concerns about a possible negative effect on his career — was that the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, simply known as Section 28, was under consideration in the British Parliament.
In a 1998 interview that discusses the 29th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, McKellen commented, “I have many regrets about not having come out earlier, but one of them might be that I didn’t engage myself in the politicking.” McKellen claimed that when he visited Michael Howard, then Environment Secretary (responsible for local government), in 1988 to lobby against Section 28, Howard refused to change his position but did ask him to leave an autograph for his children. McKellen agreed, but wrote, “Fuck off, I’m gay.”
McKellen is a co-founder of Stonewall, a LGBT rights lobby group in the United Kingdom, named after the New York Stonewall riots in 1969.
Read more about McKellen
Frank Kameny, was instrumental in the American gay rights movement. In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality, leading him to challenge the establishment that would lead to a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s. Kameny sued the U.S. Civil Service Commission, but although the court denied his petition, it is notable as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation. In 1968, Kameny, inspired by Stokely Carmichael’s creation of the phrase “Black is Beautiful”, created the slogan “Gay is Good” for the gay civil rights movement
Read about ‘Mattachine Society’ that was founded in 1950
Read about same-sex marriage
More on global acceptance
Of course there is still religious discrimination against homosexuality, and political prosecution in many countries of this world. And this is quite a shame! I have put together a few stories from all over the world that show a mixed bag of emotions for gay people all over the world:
A few headlines from 2011
6 July 2011: A revision court in San Francisco decided that a prior decision disallowing gay people to join the army is to be revoked with immediate effect (Don’t ask, don’t tell)
24 June 2011: A small majority in the senate of New York brought under way by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo implemented a law that allowed homosexuals to get married in the state of New York. “”New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted… With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers.”
28 January 2011: In France, a constitutional court ruling decided that same-sex marriage does not impinge the constitution. On the same day, 4 gay haters are sentenced to serve prison sentences between 16 and 20 years.
More info and current trends can be read here
Celebrate your coming out!
Gay Pride is THE party for most gay and transsexuals. Gay Pride is a political demonstration, which has been around since the 1970s. Whether you are gay, lesbian or not, whether you have homosexual friends or whether you just feel like joining the party – everyone has a great time at Gay Pride!
A short overview of the world’s most important parades:
– Berlin (16–23 June) Pride Festival celebrates a week full of concerts, films, parties and cabaret. Christopher Street Day Parade in Berlin (Saturday, June 2010) finds hundreds-of-thousands of people in the centre of Berlin to demonstrate and celebrate equality and rights for homosexuals and heterosexuals.
- New York (16. – 23 June) During the New York Pride, New Yorker homosexuals in Manhattan celebrate their culture and being different with parties and rallies, which are open to everyone who is open for it. This Sunday parade on 5th Avenue is simply magnificent. A million people or more in colourful and und sexy outfits are on a roll and having the time of their life.
- London (23 June – 8 July) This was the place to celebrate Gay Pride 2012. The traditional parade on 7 July, which is attracting about 1 million people now, is organized by Pride London. There are about 80 enouncements that made celebrating this cultural festival for gay pride such a big success.
- San Francisco (29 July) Thanks to a substantial gay and lesbian community on Castro Street, San Francisco Pride with its hundreds-of-thousands of people streaming into the city is one of the most important events of its kind in California – not only for homosexuals.
Here for a summary of all gay pride parades
Read more on Gay Pride
Do dare come out!
Coming out is very important for you as it is part of your personality. More than anything it will give you freedom. But the right moment should be chosen with great care, and al possible consequences should be taken into consideration. Coming out means learning to accept yourself and your homosexuality. Everyone should be encouraged to do so, because they are worth it! Choosing International Coming Out Day is a great occasion, to let it out and scream it at the world – at least as long as you are ready for it!
Here is a short clip by psychoanalytic Serge Hefez, who will explain how a coming out can be designed:
And the art?
Depiction of homosexuality in art is very much widespread. Here you can see some illustrations:
David and Jonathan
Painting by Aleksander Kiselew
Swimming by Thomas Eakins
Two Arabs in love, painting by Al-Wâssiti of Bagdad, 10th century
Renaissance – The Last Judgment by Michelangelo
Bacon – Duas figuras
Amadou Fatoumata BA, called Amefoxy
Did you know?
Batman might come out soon