Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, July 26, 2013

Down Low Celebrities: A List by Madame Noir

I found this article over at Madame Noire very interesting.  As much as I go on about how it is not okay to out someone, you know I couldn't help but puruse my way through each slide to see all the names contained.  There are the names that you'll probably suspect to be on  the list (i.e. Eddie Murphy and Eddie Long) and there are some names that I didn't expect to see (like Raven Symone).  To see the full article please go here.

Before I get into revieiwing this article I want to start with a mention that I am not here to critique Madama Noir (I actually love this site).  What I would like to do is quickly examine a society that forces people to live on the down low, because I do not think a life on the DL is something people aspire to have.  People generally choose to live closeted lives out of a fear or out of a need; and whatever the situation is, it something they were taught after viewing the social stigma, institutionalized homophobia and spiritual abuse they would endure should they choose to live a life outside of the closet.

There are basically three actions that can happen when being confronted with the threat of being outed. 1.You confirm the rumors, acknowledge your truth and step out of the closet secure with the fact that you are comfortable in your skin and embrace your authentic self.  2.You can deny, deny, deny.  3.You can neither confirm, nor deny the rumors.  Just pretent like they don't exist; and when confronted with questions dance around the question without giving a definite answer.

There are some very interesting things I'd like to point out about the individuals contained on this list.  Of the individuals on the list, only three of them made the decision to actually come out of the closet and be true to themselves, their friends and their families.  Of those three individuals, two of them are white.  I think it would interesting to reflect on this fact.  The individuals contained on this list are people we look at as being successful, powerful and influential.  Why would anyone with this type of celebrity status be ashamed of anything? 

Do we really need to answer that question?  It is those we put on high that have the greatest distance to fall.  Quiet as its kept, you know the reality for many should they make the decision to come out of the close would be rejection by many of their fans.  I know folks want to say we now live in a society where that is not the case.  Well don't let yourself be fooled.  Homophobia is still alive and well today.  The black church still wants to tell us we will burn in hell for being same-gender loving.  We still do not have an ENDA that protects our community from employers that want to fire, or not promote their LGBT employees.  And the threats of violence against members of the queer/ trans community are on the rise (not the decline).  Please don't let some progress put you in the mindset that we have overcome.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. 

I will stop venting now and get back to my point.  If Rave Symone decided to come out of the closet do you still think she would be a viable candidate for a part in a Disney project?  No, I don't think so.  If Prodigy decided to come out of the closet do you really think thugs that embrace hip hop music and culture would continue to support his music?  No I don't think so?  And don't try to give me the argument about Frank Ocean, he was a singer not a rapper.

Are we moving in the right direction?  I definitely feel like we are.  As a community we have made some tremendous accomplishments.  But until we are further along on this yellow brick road, we need to continue to let people come out as they feel comfortable.  And as I reflect on the names on this list, I can understand why some of them have not felt comfortable doing so.

I am still an advocate for living your authentic life.  Life on this side of the closet is fabulous and I have no regrets about being out.  But let's let these individuals (and all others struggling with self-acceptance or fear of disclosure) do it at their own pace.

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