The Gustavian Weekly

Celebrities coming out of the closet, into the spotlight

By Dan Vruno Staff Writer | February 28, 2014 | variety

Dan_VrunoOn Valentine’s Day, at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference, Ellen Page broke news with an emotional speech. In the speech, Page stated, “I’m here today because I am gay.”

With these words, Ellen Page came out to the world.

“I am tired of hiding, and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain,” Page said.

She has now joined other celebrities and prominent figures who have publically announced their sexuality. The Canadian actress, most known for her Oscar-nominated role in Juno, was previously afraid of coming out. Given the recent  events of athletes, such as Jason Collins and Michael Sam, and singer Frank Ocean, who all engaged in the groundbreaking action of coming out in their profession, Page developed the confidence to follow suit.

Michael Sam who just recently came out, will most likely be the first openly gay football player drafted by the National Football League. Sam, who Page called a “hero,” currently plays as a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri. In Aug. 2013, Sam came out to his team and coaches during an introduction session. As the months went on, Sam avoided the media to keep rumors at bay.  He claims that he couldn’t have had better teammates supporting him during this time and that they gave him the strength to finally come out.

Feeling that many were already aware of his sexuality, Sam finally decided to publically announce his sexuality on Feb. 9 during an ESPN interview.

“I understand how big this is. It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be . . . I want to be a football player in the NFL,” Sam said.

Later that day the NFL released a statement supporting Sam.

“Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014,” NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello said.

Sam was surprised by how much support he recieved, but still made a request to reporters.

“I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player,” Sam said.

When the time comes for drafting season, many will keep their ears open for any news surrounding Sam that could be a potential landmark for American Sports.

Among the few other athletes who are publically out, Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league back in May. As a soccer player for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Rogers was the first of the five main North American sport leagues to officially play as gay.

Shortly after the Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay NBA player. The 12-year veteran, in return, received support from many such as President Obama, former President Clinton, and sponsor Nike. While he currently is retired, Collins’ coming out is seen as a game changer for team sports, as it is one of the few workplaces where homophobia can still be found.

Collins tweeted support for Sam the day he came out.

“For the past 2 days, I have met with @MikeSamFootball here in LA. He is a great young man who has shown tremendous courage and leadership,” Collins said.

Frank Ocean publically announced his same-sex attraction through an open letter like Sam, Rogers, and Collins. Deriving from an industry where R&B and Rap are notable for enforced homophobia, Ocean was one of the first male figures to open up in the industry. Right before the release of his critically acclaimed debut album during the summer of 2012, Ocean posted a letter on Tumblr recounting his first love and unrequited feelings for another male. Ocean’s letter was garnished amongst many music critics and artists for being a groundbreaking step in the right direction. Receiving support from fellow artists such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Tyler The Creator, Ocean went on to receive many accolades including Best Album of the Year by many publications.

In spite of Page’s coming out in a career with many supporters and those who are like her, other industries are just beginning to have people step out and embrace publicity. As we celebrate those who have the bravery to come out, we should also celebrate the maturing of societies’ acceptance. It won’t be much longer until the need to come out does not exist.