Saturday, 31 July 2010

Joe McElderry: TheTwitter Outing

Earlier today both the Daily Mirror and Sun* brought us the 'exclusive' story that last year's X-Factor winner Joe McElderry was gay. For those of you who have forgotten he was Cheryl Cole's fellow Geordie.

There was a mixture of reaction through the LGBT community. From so what pop star comes out as gay is not news. To at last someone comes out as gay without being forced to by the tabloids. But then of course no everything in black and white is also so simple. As Pink News is now reporting it was Twitter pranksters that led to this revelation in today's press. Indeed as Joe said:

"I think the Twitter thing was the point when I realised I was gay. I'm feeling good about it, it's liberating. Now I can just get on with my life."

Now that is a good positive mental attitude for the young man to have, but what if he wasn't so positive about it? Being forced to come to terms with anything is hard enough in our private lives, think about the end of a relationship for example and the pressure that leads to each one of us to readjust our lives especially with all those mutual friendships.

At the time of the David Laws forced outing I wrote in anger at the Stonewall attitude that people who are in the closet don't deserve any sympathy when things fall apart. As anyone who is gay will tell you, you are never totally out. There are always mini comings out that you have to undertake on a day to day basis. There is always someone else who you haven't met and there may well be a decision to made in that conversation of whether to tell them or not, especially if the conversation gets around to partners.

To do it publicly like those in the public eye do adds to other pressures. The whole world or at least the millions that read a certain tabloid will know. The multimedia world we live in will then pick it up and no doubt, if like me you don't read the original source, you will soon find out. It is a scary enough though even telling family and friends for most people without letting the whole world know. However, even if you're not in the public eye it isn't always easy. As Andrew also posted there was the unprovoked homophobic attack in Perth earlier this week.

Or course the above is only assuming that every lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individual is at that time happy with their own sexuality. That is an oversimplification, a generalisation too far. Many of us in or friends of the LGBT community know of individuals who are struggling with themselves. What if poor Joe had been one of those? Would we have a tragedy on our hands of the making of others.

Yes it would be good if everyone could be out and proud of who they are in a society that doesn't care. Sadly our society isn't as all caring, loving and accepting as we'd hope. Sometimes that starts within the household of some LGBT youth as they are growing up, it can certainly occur, like with Joe, when they are at school and as I've shown it can also come from strangers. Some of those people just cannot cope, they just aren't confident and can be a real threat to their own well being. That is why I vehemently oppose the exposure of anyone's sexuality for whatever reason by any third party.

We have to make that decision every day, whether we let everybody know or who we should tell. Sometimes it is going to be fine, but occasionally it will be a risk, it is then that the decision is made whether it is a risk worth taking. If someone decides not to let the whole world know it doesn't make them any less gay than the Drag Queen shimmying at the head of a gay pride parade, nor does it mean then need to me more out than they are comfortable with.

* Sorry I'll still not link to Merseyside's most hated tabloid (though Andrew Reeves has)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Stephen. I am not sure that he was forced out. He could have just ignored and deleted the Twitter hack message. I don't think it (the Twitter hacking) even made any of the news outlets. So no real cat was let out the bag. It seems the hackers were just taking a mischievous punt, by the look of it. But as you quite rightly say, Joe McElderry was "forced to come to terms" with his private life - to an extent.

    I'm a terrible old cynic. I am sure Joe McElderry, who comes across as a genuinely pleasant and honest fellow and is an excellent singer, is quite honest and open about this move. I genuinely wish him well and sincerely applaud what he has done and the stylish and charming way he has done it.

    However, I just wonder if his publicist is having to suppress a little bit of relief that he or she (the publicist) has found a way to get their client on the front page of Merseyside's most hated tabloid just as most people, including myself, were starting to forget who the Sam Hill Joe McElderry is.