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Celebrities have a duty to come out

As Coming Out Day is celebrated around the world, we ask if the rich, powerful and famous owe us their honesty about their sexuality
Ellen DeGeneres has become a role-model for lesbians and many others since coming out as gay.

With great power comes great responsibility, so said Stan Lee through his iconic comic Spider-Man.

Well, if you want to get pernickety, many argue it was in fact French Enlightenment writer, Francois-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire.

But regardless of who once uttered these words of wisdom, it is undeniable that in this day and age, an age of light speed information communication across the globe, they very much still ring true.

What has changed since Voltaire’s, and even Stan Lee’s time (even though that revolutionary is still very much alive), is who has the power and what responsibility they have.

There are politicians, the police, the army, teachers, nurses and doctors, groups of people who have, at many points in their lives, a lot of power and a great deal of responsibility.

Then there’s one group who has unimaginable power - millions and millions of followers, thousands of hardworking, unknown lives behind every movement of their’s - but with minimal responsibility.

Celebrities.

Of course, being a celeb can be tough. Not everyone chooses to be famous – some wake up to it and others are simply born into it.

Take Kate Middleton, the brand new British Queen-to-be. I’m not saying she didn’t know what she was doing when she eyed Prince William over a low fat cream cheese bagel in the University of St Andrews canteen.

But having your breasts virally splashed across computer screens worldwide in a matter of minutes, not to mention front page magazine and newspaper coverage, is never nice regardless of how much royal training you’ve had.

Severely questionable acts of journalism aside however, you have to admit, it’s not exactly the crappiest of lives.

Even Paris Hilton who made headlines for her ignorant remarks about Grindr, gay men and AIDS in the back seat of a NYC taxi is still very much living the highlife.

So when it comes to homosexuality, something that effects nearly everyone on the planet in some way, do these special few, these lime-lighted public leviathans, have a responsibility to publically come out?

Of course they do.

As simple as it sounds, if they don’t then they’re telling everyone that ‘likes’ their Facebook page, looks up to them or desperately loves, adores and obsesses over them, that being gay or lesbian is wrong.

Is there some reason we don’t qualify for the same rights as our heterosexual cousins? Are we lower in the food chain for simply finding our same gender sexually attractive?

No, we’re not, and the fact that some people imply that is laughable – particularly when many of them work in the entertainment industry, long-known for being a salvation for all types of queers when the laws were not so kind.

Laughable and very, very sad.

I’m not saying that it’s easy. Coming out is never easy, no matter who you are, where you’re from and even if you have a family and group of friends that have your back no matter which direction you point yours.

But celebrities have an obligation to show to the rest of the world what is right and what is wrong. Because unlike the rest of the population, unlike the regular, day-to-day people, we seem to actually give a damn about what they do.

You can’t pass a Yahoo homepage these days without learning why Kim Kardashian’s latest turd was the biggest and smelliest she’s ever done and why this means there will be another seven series of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

All I can say is that I am very thankful for the brave people that do stand up for their sexuality.

People like Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Lynch, Mika (about time), Ricky Martin, Gok Wan, Gareth Thomas, Alexander McQueen (RIP), Portia de Rossi, Neil Patrick Harris, TR Knight, Fiona Shaw, Alan Cumming, Wanda Sykes, Nathan Lane, Ian McKellen, Tracy Chapman, the list goes on.

These people, regardless of how they live their life, at least stood up, in front of their audience and said, I am a gay. Yes, I am. And I don’t care what you think because I am going to carry on being me.

They understand that, as a public figure (one that represents a portion of the population that still faces discrimination, prejudice, persecution and even the death sentence simply because of the people they fall in love with), they have a duty.

A duty to proudly show the world that homosexuality isn’t a bad thing and that love is love no matter if your genitals are on the inside or dangle out front.

I think at least Stan Lee would agree on that one.

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