Comedienne/chat-show host Ellen
DeGeneres announced she was gay on the front cover of Time
magazine in 1997 with the headline, “Yup, I'm Gay.” Many blamed
the decision to come out for stalling her skyrocketing career.
Singer Clay Aiken's recent admission of being gay on the cover of
People magazine – “Yes, I'm Gay” – drew mainly hugs
and a few shrugs.
Does Aiken's cakewalk coming out
illustrate a new American irrelevance with being gay? According to a
new Harris-Interactive survey, coming out gay is out.
In the national survey a majority (67%)
of heterosexual adults agreed that they prefer honestly about sexual
orientation over deceit and if someone they knew is gay or lesbian,
they'd want to know. And a near universal majority (87%) of
heterosexuals said that the coming out gay of an acquaintance would
have a positive or no impact on how they view gay, lesbian, bisexual
or transgender people.
“The data helps to confirm what we
have known for years – a majority of our friends and coworkers want
us to be honest about who we are,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice
President of Education and Outreach Betsy Pursell.
The survey also found more gays and
lesbians are coming out. A large majority of gays and lesbians (80%)
believed themselves to be out to varying degrees – 95 percent to
close friends, 79 percent to acquaintances/casual friends, 75 percent
to parents, and 67 percent to co-workers/colleagues.
Those numbers, however, drop
significantly when bisexual and transgender people are included in
the totals. For all GLBT people, 79 percent say they are out to
close friends, 61 percent to acquaintances/casual friends, 56 percent
to parents, and only 49 percent to co-workers/colleagues.
If a corollary for coming out is
acceptance, and if rates of coming out drop by as much as 19% when
bisexual and transgender people are included in the totals, then it
would be safe to conclude that coming out transgender is the new gay
and coming out gay is becoming ... well, moot.