Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Re: Coming Out

Over the weekend a lovely young man from Northern Ireland by the name of Adam posted this video coming out as gay to his viewers. May I first tip my hat to him for having the balls to do so; coming out to thousands in a YouTube video takes guts. I would also like to express how important I think his decision was not just for his viewers, but for the rest of the community on our lovely little video sharing website.

It is a well known fact that YouTube has never been short of gay men. The glory days of Perez Hilton, GayGod and William Sledd dominating the top positions on the subscription lists are all but a distant memory, and the 5awesomegays and WHATTHEBUCKSHOW still carry the great homosexual baton with pride.

So why am I saying that Adam’s coming out video is so important? If anything, isn’t he a bit late jumping on the wagon? And surely there are already plenty of Gay role models for YouTube viewers to watch and admire, aren’t there?

Michael Buckley and the 5AGays have always been, and will always be, gay centric channels. What Adam’s video has proved, is that you don’t have to make ‘gay’ videos to be gay and make it on YouTube. 5AG and Buck do a wonderful job at representing the community, but if you don’t want to label yourself as a gay channel, or talk about celebrity gossip, there are few places for a Gay viewer to look for inspiration to make videos.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this, and he mentioned that he had never made a “coming out” video because, if he were straight, then he would never think about making a video telling someone that he slept with women, why should it be any different because his preference is men?

He has a point, but then you watch a video like this, posted as a response to Adam’s.

Adam’s decision to go public with his sexuality clearly had a profound impact on this guy. It’s given him the hope that maybe he can do the same as Adam, and come out to his family and friends. It feels weird me saying this, but as people who have put ourselves in the public eye, it is almost our responsibility to tell people about our journeys, so as people treading the same path behind us have a smoother ride, so they know that it’s all going to be okay at the end of it all.

I identify as bisexual. The reason that I have never been public about this is because I have only recently begun using that term to describe myself. I didn’t know whether I was gay for a long time, but eventually it made sense that I did in fact like both, and should use a label to express that.

Everyone who knows me well enough knows about my sexuality and I am incredibly lucky that the worst reaction I have ever had to telling someone has been when the mother of a friend of mine told me that I was ‘greedy’. “Why can’t you just pick one and stick with it!?’ My parents have had to hear me come out to them twice, once as gay, and again telling them that, ‘sorry, but I kinda like girls too.’

Some of you may see this blog as a bit of a cop out. After all, nowhere near as many people read this as watch rhymingwithoranges, or even JazzainChina, but I have my reasons. RWO is now very much a news and debate channel, I haven’t vlogged on that for years, so a coming out video just doesn’t belong there. JiC is a travel blog and, again, the kind of video this requires just wouldn’t belong. This blog is the most personal thing I post on the Internet, this news (if you can call I news) is very personal, so this is where it belongs.

As Adam said, you can be appalled and unfollow/ unsubscribe if you like, that’s your problem, not mine. And as for anyone who is struggling with coming out themselves, or in trying to find a label, don’t rush it – and just know millions upon millions have gone through the same thing you have and came out the other end okay.

All the best.



Dianlin Huang said...

Be yourself is the most beautiful thing in life. Congrats, Jazza! 成为你自己是人生中最美丽的事情。祝贺你,杰仁。

Jeff Edelman said...

Hey there, Jazza. I had absolutely no idea about your sexuality, and of course it never mattered. Because all that matters is what kind of person you are, and you are obviously a very special guy. Thanks for writing such a personal story. There is no doubt that people like you who write stuff like this will make it easier for the younger people dealing with these issues. Cheers, boss.

Tino said...

Hey, i haven't spoken to you in ages and I really really miss you here. I just happened to be on twitter and saw you tweet and read all of this. I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to talk about this stuff openly, and I agree with everything you have said Jazza. I may get involved in the discussion with my point of views at some point, but when I do so, I'm sure you'll know.

Miss you greatly. Tino <333

RoboticNeurotic said...

Hehe, my best friend did the same thing as you, as in the coming out twice thing. It was really hard for her and I imagine was for you too, which makes me think Adam was right to hold out for a while, til he was older and knew his mind that bit more. I think it all has a lot to do with how you define yourself.

I remember hearing about a contestant on Big Brother (I forget which - never actually watched the show but I admit that, for revelations such as this it is interesting) who was openly gay. He was surprised firstly by how accepting and understanding the public was, but more so by how the public defined him by his sexuality. I think it is publicly seen as a more prominent factor than it should be, but hopefully this will recede in time. We've come through racism and sexism (for the most part), so hopefully we will soon move past homophobia.

As always, your contributions are insightful and interesting =) looking forward to more soon.

Hope Is Not A Myth said...

From the bottom of my heart, thank you! You are a wonderful man Jazza <3

shannancy said...

My dad, while being the most tolerant and accepting person I know, actually told told me, when he saw that I identified as bisexual on Facebook, "You need to take off all that 'bisexual' crap on your page."

Nothing he has said to me has ever hurt more.

It's very hard me to date girls, living where I do. I've had my car egged, been refused service at restaurants, had good friends proposition me for threesomes, and lost friends completely.

The internet community is really the only place I can be out and not afraid of the backlash.

So thank you for trusting us enough to tell us.

Sum said...

I admire you in lots of ways. I admire the way you express yourself in your videos and through your blog. I think you're absolutely attractive and intelligent in every way. I agree with everything you've said in this blog. I'm so happy for you Jazza for discovering yourself and not afraid to speak out about your sexuality.

penny said...

I am so glad that todays society is changing to such an extent that there is an opportunity for people to able to express their sexuality in this way.
Back in the day when I a young person , being gay was about the worst thing you could confess to being, so I find todays attitude to this topic very refreshing.
Your sexual orientation doesnt matter one jot. What matters is the kind of person you are.
Take care Jazza and know that there are hundreds of people who are cheering you on in your decision to be honest with the world.
Penny (your youtube mum) x

Nicholas said...

I think it's great what Adam did, but looking through some of the comments, I'm thinking it was probably more important than ever to do it.

The more people come out, the more people will think it "normal" and acceptable enough to come out themselves until it's just not assumed anymore that every person is straight.

Some of the comments kind of angered me a little little bit... if someone writes "I still love you" it's meant as a positive affirmation, but actually it says something like "you just admitted a horrible crime, but I still love you". It shouldn't be an obstacle people have to overcome to "still love you". But maybe I have become to sensitive, I guess most people don't mean it that way...

I think it's great that you're comfortable enough with yourself to talk openly about these things :)

Becky said...

I find it very hard to come out to friends and family (I'm bi), so I haven't talked to anyone about it.
Watching people coming out on the Internet, has made me "realize" that I have to come out to people that I care about.... Some day. :]

lil_athlete31250 said...

I think now a days, all of us are bi sexual. I mean you can't just be "straight".

Gary said...

I'm proud of you. So many people will see this and it will inspire others. Whether the other known youtubers come forward about their sexual preferences or not it's neither here nor there.
One step at a time.
Maybe someday our GLBT youth will have enough great role models like you to be who they are without fear or pretence.
Unfortunately I never had those as a teen and the internet was in its infancy. I only came out recently to my parents officially (shocking...I know lol), I miss you. x

doug said...

I don't know what it is about Youtube, but it really does seem to attract gay people..!
From people I know on YT, I reckon a good third (or more) of the guys are gay/bi, it's almost no surprise any more.

Anonymous said...

You honour me with your honesty, embolden me with your bravery, and make me proud by your empathy. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

You're an exceptional man, Jazza.

Dave said...

Wait a minute... WhatTheBuck is gay?!

robbjbrowning said...

Jazza, it is people like you and Adam who I am in awe of - people who don't let their sexuality define their creative endeavours.

Now, I'm by no means an LGBT activist, but I'm not exactly silent on the matter either, as one look at the rants on my YouTube channel will show.

It's a fiercely debated topic as to whether LGBT people should "fly the flag" or just "not make it a big deal" - both are valid arguments for paving the way for equality.

Personally, I think that "flying the flag" LEADS to people "not making it a big deal", as increased visibility of something leads to a sense of normality about it. But I am in awe of people who, somehow, seem to have skipped straight to the "not making a big deal", cause for me, that's idyllic, but also utopic.

However, one thing that UNDOUBTEDLY helps the process is people like you and Adam, who are known, liked and respected in a community, making it public. I'm by no means saying that everyone in the public eye SHOULD make it public - take Sean Hayes, George Takei, Neil Patrick Harris etc - nor should they be forced out of the closet (don't get me started on THAT topic).

But when it does happen, it's a fantastic thing, and for that I just want to say: Thank you.

Hope to see you again at Summer in the City :D

Rob <3

Natasha said...

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Becky Jean said...

Jazza, I can only begin to imagine the courage that must have taken to write. My sister came out as bi to me 3 years ago. I really only started to get how difficult it all was as she explained the balancing act she was playing not telling some relatives it might upset. It made me think about the people in my life and how they might take it.

I'm glad you feel comfortable enough telling this community. And anyone not willing to accept and like you for the amazing person you are, isn't worth your time anyway.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your efforts. It's never easy, but as you can see, it can have a great impact on others around you. I decided to come out as being bi during a Multicultural Panel I was hosting as a Resident Assistant on a small college campus. Afterwards, I had multiple people come up to me and tell me that I made a difference, and it made it all worth it.

The next step for me is to come out to my extended family, like my sister, BeckyJean talked about in her post.

Again, thank you for being you!

Anonymous said...

After volunteering to protect gay marriage in my state this year (which ultimately, and barely, failed), it became even clearer to me how much hate is spread in reaction to the arbitrary lines we draw around sexuality. Yet it's something we have to talk about, especially as the cultural categories of sexual preference impact civil and human rights. I identify as straight, so I cannot claim to know how hard it must be to come out, but my congratulations and support go out to you and everyone else who has come out or is thinking about it.

Sophie said...

Brilliant blog, Jazza.
We all love you for who you are :)

Resisted said...

Your sexuality doesn't matter - WE WANT MORE VIDEO'S :P though congrats on having the guts to come out =]

Michael Markman said...

Jazza, just found this a year late and a dollar short. Was Googling for your most recent, and Google served this one up in the top spot. And deservedly so. Google is sooo smart. This is a great post.

You and Adam are both generous, thoughtful, and open contributors to multiple communities.

Now I'm off to find your new post before I forget what I wanted to tell you.