In case you missed it: Zachary Quinto (aka: Spock) came out this weekend. He discussed his sexuality for the first time in an interview with New York Magazine and addressed the decision to do so in a blog post:
when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled. but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair. i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time. but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country. gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying. parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance. we are witnessing an enormous shift of collective consciousness throughout the world. we are at the precipice of great transformation within our culture and government. i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action. jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine. and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me. now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world. that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.
In an ideal world, of course, no one would need to come out — or, at least, no more so than people occasionally have to come out as, say, vegetarian, or Jewish, or left-handed. Occasionally, when you’re not part of the majority culture, you have to give people a head’s up.
But we are, of course, not yet living in an ideal world.
I’m straight and as far as I know so are my kids, so this is really not my fight. And yet I think of the people for whom this is their fight — their daily, energy-sucking, soul-grinding fight — and wish that all LGBTQ people of any influence anywhere would come out.
I think about office drones and HomeDepot stockers and teachers and basketball players. I think about gay boys who will learn about Quinto today, and eight year old lesbians who watch Ellen with their moms, and I know that the decision to come out saves lives — not just literally (which is plenty), but in every possible way. Because lying every day about who you are and who you love is a kind of death. Knowing that not even adults are brave enough to brave the onslaught of hate is a kind of death. Watching the world wink and nod and continue in a conspiracy of silence around those who “choose not to discuss their personal lives” is a kind of death — because every wink, and every nod, and every anemic word about privacy reaffirms what the office drone and the boys and the girls already know: There is something shameful, and repugnant, and non-human, about being gay. It must be wrapped in jokes, and in silence.
As we used to say in the days of the AIDS epidemic: Silence kills. Knowledge is power.
When people like Zachary Quinto choose to come out publicly, at the height of their career and of their own accord (and how many people have done that, exactly? Maybe Ellen counts? And Don Lemon, very recently. It’s nearly unheard of), they make the world in which I live and in which my children are coming of age a better, more healed place. With their courage, they teach my children that being authentic is more important than listening to lies, that simply being who you are should never be reason for shame, and that all those lessons that their parents are trying to convey about liberty and justice for all are not, after all, just fairy tales.
People like Quinto, and Lemon, and Neil Patrick Harris, and Chaz Bono, and Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi teach my children to look at the people around them and treat them as just that. People. When people like Zachary Quinto come out, they help me and my children become fuller, and more fully human.
This is not my fight, and it is not for me to say, to anyone in the LGBTQ community, how to deal with the ugly reality they face every day.
But it is my world, and I am grateful, and humbled, when people do choose to tell their truth, in spite of that ugly reality. I hope that Quinto’s decision will prove to be the first of many such revelations in the weeks and months to come. America – indeed, the entire world – needs courage right now. And if that courage is forthcoming, perhaps this will be the generation that our first gay President looks back on and says: That’s when I knew I could do this.
(Though I, uh, reserve the right to be all judgey about Quinto’s apparent distaste for capital letters. Some things really are beyond the Pale).
UPDATE: Well will you look at that! David L brought this up in the comments: “Zachary Quinto Inspires News Anchor to Come Out on Air“!
ABC’s World News Now anchor Dan Kloeffler revealed he’s gay while reporting on actor Zachary Quinto’s decision to come out over the weekend…. “There have been too many tragic endings and too many cases of bullying because of intolerance. As a kid I wanted someone to look up to, someone that could relate to the feelings I was having. Most of all, I wanted to know that it would get better. And it did.”
I’ve got the chills and the goosebumps over here!