My mom wrote the following essay in response to my blog entry about T.R. Knight coming out of the closet last week. I loved what she wrote, so I asked her if I could post it, and voila. Please welcome my first guest blogger, PAM. (New Thing #170: I had a guest blogger on my blog!)
TV Star's Bold Step Makes a Sad Statement About Our Society
By Sherry Angel
My son called me on Thursday with “very exciting Hollywood news.”
“Guess who came out today?” he asked.
I offered a few big Hollywood names that have been part of the gay rumor mill.
“No, this is really big,” he said. “It’s someone who’s on prime-time TV in the most popular series on the air right now. It’s George.”
My 29-year-old son and I are both huge fans of “Grey’s Anatomy,” so I knew exactly who he was referring to—George O’Malley, the sexy-in-a-fuzzy-bear-kind-of-way doctor who is one of our favorites in the show’s ensemble cast. I didn’t know his real name, T.R. Knight, but I do now. Because right there on http://www.people.com/ is a story saying that, in response to rumors about his sexuality, he confirmed “exclusively to People” that he is, indeed, gay.
“I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me,” Knight said.
My son, who is also gay and does substitute teaching while pursuing the Hollywood dream as a screenwriter, would totally agree. As he told me when he came out to me at 23—“Being gay is not who I am any more than having brown hair or hazel eyes defines me.”
He was so thrilled about T.R.’s confession to People that he wrote this on his blog shortly after hearing the news: “Here's the thing: when was the last time an up-and-coming actor on one of the freaking biggest hits on television came out of the closet while they were still on their rise to fame (as opposed to fifty years later)??? Seriously, has anyone on TV's number one show EVER come out of the closet while their show was such a huge hit?
“People all across America love George O'Malley, and by extension they love T.R. Knight, and I can't imagine that this news is going to change that. Instead, people across the country (which is still frighteningly homophobic—I heard the word ‘faggot’ over a dozen times today, students slinging it at other classmates, as well as a couple of students slinging it at me) are going to hear that the actor who plays George is gay, and they're going to have another face they're fond of to associate with gayness and their hearts are gonna open up just a little bit more.”
After my son and I talked, I thought about the pain that lies just underneath the surface of his excitement over this news. He lives in a world where it’s still a bold step to admit being gay—where coming out can still mean destroying a career, risking relationships or becoming a target of homophobic slurs. A world where gay people can fall in love and create a family like everybody else, but aren’t permitted to get married and have the status and protection that our society offers other families—including many that are highly dysfunctional but have our stamp of approval because they appear “normal.”
It’s hard to think of my son as part of a group of people in our society who are still marginalized—and will be as long as they are denied the same legal rights that are available to heterosexual couples.
And it makes me feel very sad that he was so moved by such a simple act as a TV star saying, “I’m gay.” Behind both T.R. Knight’s honesty and my son’s elation is great hope—that hearts will, indeed, open up, and acceptance in our society will grow to a point where confessions like this won’t have to be made. Or can be with barely a ripple.