Miley. Cara. Laverne. Caitlyn. Ruby. Kristen. Ellen. The other Ellen…
There’s no denying that in the last few years there’s been an increase in stories of celebrities coming out.
Hell, even in the last year we’ve had a drastic amount of public figures representing the LGBT+ community: Caitlyn Jenner, Miley Cyrus, Kirsten Stewart, Jayden Smith, Laverne Cox and Ellen Page merely begin the long list of celebrities that are starting to let their guard down and show their fans who they really are.
Just a few years ago, coming out as gay was one of the biggest PR spectacles a celebrity could endure – and not always in a good way. Ricky Martin hid his sexuality for fear of public backlash for years of his professional career, as did Ian Thorpe, as have many other athletes, performers and public figures. Ten years ago, Robbie Williams even sued for libel over a newspaper’s claim he might — *shock horror* — be gay.
But these days, it seems my Twitter feed never stops buzzing with the celebrations of a new celebrity joining the club.
Yep, be it gay, bi, trans, gender fluid — or anything else along the gender and sexual orientation spectrums — we’re definitely talking a lot more about sexual orientation and gender now than we were a few years ago.
So are we actually reaching a point where all these stories have contributed to a positive mainstream understanding of the LGBT+ community? Well, yes and no.
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There’s still a lot that gets left out of the discussion.
The extensive media coverage of Caitlyn Jenner’s story has helped normalise discussions around transgender issues for a number of people, and has probably also introduced this sort of conversation to many people who normally wouldn’t have thought about trans* issues before. But, before we get too excited, we have to remember that Caitlyn’s story is not representative of the experiences of all trans* people. In some ways, the media is letting us down by celebrating Caitlyn Jenner purely because she makes a beautiful woman.