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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eric Marcus: 'A gay celebrity doesn't help bring about acceptance'

"While few experts on gay issues would dispute the powerful impact that coming out has on a personal, one-on-one level, there is a growing sense that a celebrity coming out sways few hearts and minds and does relatively little to alter negative perceptions about gay people."

Jeremy W. Peters reports:
“There’s the assumption among gay people that if only this famous person came out, things would be better — and that’s never been the case,” said Eric Marcus, a chronicler of gay social issues, whose books on the subject include “Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990.”

“The most significant effort any of us can make in moving the ball forward in terms of promoting awareness and acceptance of this issue is for those of us who are gay to come out to those closest to us,” he said. “It isn’t ultimately the celebrity that changes people’s minds, or the politician. It’s the individual, one on one.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation conducted a survey in late 2008 that looked at the reasons behind society’s evolving tolerance for gay people.

It found that the reason cited most frequently by people who reported having more favorable views — by far — was knowing someone who is gay.

Seventy-nine percent of the survey’s respondents said that knowing someone who is gay contributed to their more positive opinions, compared with 34 percent who said seeing gay characters on television was a factor. READ MORE
I do agree that a celebrity coming out of the closet won't bring about acceptance by society at large -but - I have known many people who have said that they felt empowered to be openly gay in all aspects of life after learning that a favourite writer or actor/singer was gay.

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