Positive role models are such an important part of our lives. All of us.
Whether male, female, or trans, young or old. Whether gay, bi, straight, or any of the seemingly ever growing list of identities that fall in between.
Role models can be life changing for some people.
But, and here’s the big question, should we always celebrate those who come out late in life? Are they really our best example for young LGBT people everywhere? I mean, what exactly are we celebrating?
Are we revelling in the fact that somebody hid themselves away for many, many years, before realising that they couldn’t do it anymore?
Obviously I’m happy for such people, delighted in fact that they have at last taken the plunge and fully accepted who they are, but what about all that went before the reveal?
What of the possible/probable hurt caused to others? The lies obviously told to hide the truth?
The perfect and perhaps most recent example of this is of course, Gareth Thomas. Or, to clarify, the LGBT Media handling, of Gareth’s story.
We all put him up on a pedestal, the shining example for our LGBT youth.
It must be said though, in all fairness, the documentary recently aired about Gareth and his coming out did indeed touch on the darker side, and the effects on other people. He should be proud of covering that, it was fair, frank and raw.
In general however, why don’t we, the LGBT community at large, focus more of our attention on the people who have never been in a closet in the first place? Our community is filled with people like this. Loving couples with kids they have through fostering, adoption or fertility treatments.
Good, strong, solid, stand up members of society in general, who just happen to be a part of the LGBT community too. Those are the positive role models I personally want to see, and that I would like to think young people were seeing, reading about and possibly even interacting with.
Our own media, is all too often filled with scantily clad images of ‘gay friendly’ sport personalities, TV stars or boy bands. The media in general seems to focus far too much on those who come out late in life, or high profile couples like Elton John and David Furnish and their personal lives, again all too often with a negative spin.
We created this environment. We buy the tickets and fill the stalls, we sit waiting patiently for the circus to begin. We are our very own creation.
They say you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. So let’s change things a little, shall we? We have the power. We always did.
Paul J Burgess is creator and co-founder of Pink Triangle Theatre.