Wentworth owes us nothing
Today’s Wentworth Miller story really upset me.
This weekend, Wentworth Miller spoke about how the enormous pressure to hide that he was gay led to suicide attempts, beginning when he was 15 years old.
Then, he says something even more heartbreaking – that even though he doesn’t remember the details of the suicide attempt, he’s pretty sure he was back on the schoolbus the following Monday. Isn’t that the most awful thing you can think of? That not only are you in such pain and feeling so completely alone but on Monday morning, you’re going to smile through it all and pretend it doesn’t exist? Again? It really hit me, especially since so many kids go back to school today. So many of them are living this even as we speak – facing down a whole new year of it.
But that's still not the part that really upset me.
I made the mistake of reading the comments on a civilized, high-level discussion site regarding this video and came across one that said, with minimal paraphrasing:
“How many suicides could have been prevented if he had just come out earlier?”
I shouldn’t need to respond to this. Not in this way. But let’s just make things super clear here. Nobody’s sexuality, or any other part of their life experience or personality, is expressly for your benefit. If there’s something someone says that provides you or others with a feeling of not being alone or commiseration that is wonderful. It’s why lots of people share their stories. “If one other person benefits from my saying this, then…”
That’s great. But the opposite is not true. Neither you nor I nor Wentworth Miller nor anybody else in the public eye is obligated to reveal things about themselves just because there might be some benefit to others.
The corollary to this is that there isn’t a right way to come out as gay, whether it’s on the front of PEOPLE or in a tweet or casually over time. Remember Jodie Foster’s non-announcement at the Globes this year? Valid. Neil Patrick Harris’ magazine cover? Valid. Those stars you wonder about who maybe will make announcements in the future? Completely valid, because there’s no set schedule for anyone to come to a realization about themselves, regardless of whether you or anybody else think they’d be a "good role model" as a result.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again -- take celebs for who they are, don’t expect them to be examples for you in any other way than being extra beautiful and poised... and you can only ever be happily surprised.