Celebrities casually coming out shows just how much the world has changed for the better
There was a flurry of excitement on social media when French tennis players Fabien Reboul and Maxence Broville shared a photo of themselves kissing online.
On his Instagram story, Reboul shared a picture of himself and Broville staring into each other’s eyes. In the next picture, they were locking lips.
He rounded out the post with a caption that read: “I did not fall in love with you, your love pushed me to it.”
Before long, social media was flooded with the picture of Reboul and Broville kissing, with people suggesting that the pair had “come out” and that they were in a relationship.
But the funny thing is that neither man has technically “come out” at all.
At the time of writing, all we know is that Reboul and Broville have shared a picture of themselves kissing on social media. We still don’t know if it was their way of announcing a relationship to the world, if they saw it as an opportunity to publicly come out, or if it was something else entirely – many won’t have forgotten the controversy that ensued when footballer Iker Casillas “came out” and then admitted it was a joke all along.
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But if Reboul and Broville’s kiss was their relationship soft launch, it says a lot about how the act of coming out has changed – and it points to a brighter future where queer people might not have to come out at all.
Being queer is now seen as a superpower
It doesn’t feel like all that long ago that Ellen DeGeneres came out on the cover of Time magazine in 1997. She wasn’t the first celebrity to come out, but it certainly marked a turning point.
While it tanked DeGeneres’ career, it paved the way for more celebrities to come out. Indeed, the tabloids became obsessed with the spectacle of it all, and soon enough the coming out story became a front page staple.
In recent years, queerness has gradually started to enter the mainstream. On television, gay characters are everywhere – even if they’re still rarely the main character. Cinema too seems to be portraying more queer characters – even in major titles like the last James Bond Movie No Time to Die (Ben Whishaw’s Q) and Cruella, which apparently was the first Disney live-action film to show an openly gay person.
In the music industry, where artists were once warned by record labels and publicists that coming out would harm their careers, queerness is everywhere. The meteoric rise of Lil Nas X proved once and for all that being gay is now seen as a superpower, especially in an industry that now relies so heavily on the illusion of authenticity to sell music.
Across society, queer people are coming out younger than ever. A recent survey from the Trevor Project, a US-based organisation that combats LGBTQ+ suicide, found that 24 per cent of queer youth had come out before they were 13 years old. Other research shows that while young people are more likely to identify as queer, they are less likely to put themselves in neatly-labelled boxes.
We can see those shifts in how celebrities come out today. JoJo Siwa announced that she was queer with a slogan on a t-shirt while Ava Phillippe – daughter of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe – casually announced that she’s attracted to “people” and that gender is less of a concern for her. Many no longer thing of coming out as a singular statement – instead, they’re just living their lives openly.
Once upon a time, coming out was all about struggle – the media breathlessly asked queer people to divulge when they first knew, to relay their traumas, and what it was like coping with rejection – often after having threatened to out them.
Today, the landscape is, for the most part, different. Homophobia and transphobia are still rampant – in fact, many use their coming out as a platform to challenge hate – and there’s still a long, long way to go toward full equality. Outing still happens, but it’s met with widespread disgust, and is no longer the norm.
While there’s no right or wrong way to come out, the way people are choosing to talk about their sexuality is changing.
Who knows, maybe one day, we’ll get to a point where people don’t have to come out at all.
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