Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Coming Out" And The Culture Of Celebrity

     I am a 50 year old blogger, I am white and I am an avid golfer. I realize that "coming out" like this takes courage, but no one else was being first, so I had to step up and do it. I realize this places me in a position to be ridiculed, mocked and discriminated against for my love of the game of golf. But I am willing to suffer the slings and arrows of golf-haters everywhere in order to give hope and courage to all those other avid golfers who have wanted to "come out", but were afraid. My goal in "coming out" is to show that someone can be a professional blogger, and still be an avid golfer. My fervent hope is that someday we will live in a country where there will be no prejudice against avid golfers.
     Yesterday, NBA center Jason Collins made a similar statement to the one above, announcing his homosexuality. Making him the first active player in any of the four major professional sports to be openly gay. Mr. Collins, in part, said that he wished someone would have done it first, but since no one did, it was up to him to be first. My question is, "Why?" Why is it necessary that anyone in professional sports, or in any other profession for that matter, publicly "come out" as gay? It is a phenomenon that exists in no other aspect of life. People do not routinely feel compelled to "come out" as anything else, e.g, as heterosexual, over-sexual, under-sexual, an anxiety sufferer, clinically depressed, joyful, happy, over-weight or myriad other states in which a human may find themselves.
     I think the "coming out" phenomenon is symptomatic of a culture of celebrity that encourages people to share intimate details of their lives publicly for the effect of feeling important, relevant and validated. I have seen this phenomenon in spades on social media. People routinely post personal details of their lives on Facebook or Twitter for complete strangers to read. Details that 20 years ago would not have been discussed with strangers met at the grocery store or anywhere else in public. I think it is the result of a culture that teaches validation from without instead of from within. Those who are secure in their own skin do not need constant feedback from family, friends and total strangers to make them feel relevant and affirmed. I think that the search for affirmation from outside sources is a sign that one can not come to terms with their own conscious and therefore must override it with outside influences.
     So why "come out?" It is a sign that a person does not feel special enough to his fellow human beings, even when that person is an NBA center or other celebrity. And it is a direct result of the culture of "Acknowledge me for what I am, not for what I've accomplished." Whether a person's accomplishments are great, as in the case of Jason Collins, or almost non-existent, as in the case of our current president, they really don't matter. Our culture now says that irrelevant physical attributes or life style choices are the things that make a person worthy of acknowledgement.

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