Why we still need Champions

Posted on 26 Oct 2012 at 11:30am

As long as we still need bills banning reparative therapy, it should be news when people like Sam Champion of ‘Good Morning America’ come out

Champion.Sam

Sam Champion, right, and fiancé Rubem Robierb (Associated Press)

One recent morning I awoke to the earth-shaking news that Sam Champion of Good Morning America fame was getting married to his longtime boyfriend, and yes, they look great together.

I can hardly keep count of all the folks coming out nowadays and I must admit that it’s making me nostalgic for the days when there were, maybe, two out LGBT celebrities besides Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein — ever.

Can you imagine Time magazine putting anyone on its cover today just for coming out?  (Except maybe a presidential candidate, which would be really cool, but the subject of another column.)

For simple record-keeping purposes, I think we can now say that all handsome blond news guys are gay, all female talk-show hosts and former world-class athletes are lesbians, and all up-and-coming hot actresses are bi. There, that makes things tidier.

This is how it should be, I know. The whole point of the “come out, come out wherever you are” thing was to make being gay kind of ordinary so that at some point we don’t ever have to “come out,” but rather just be. Which was what I tried to explain in the comments section of a Facebook post about Champion’s wedding. You see, the good news is that most of the comments said things like, “Congratulations!” or “Damn, I had such a crush on you and now my hopes are dashed.”

However, a large number of those comments also said things like, “Gross,” or “I knew he was a fag,” or the slightly more critically sophisticated, “This is news why??”

I can’t help illuminate anything for the grossed-out cretins, but I did decide to answer, at ridiculous length, the ones who felt that Sam should keep his marriage to himself.  I think I wrote, like, comment No. 6,427, and so it was read by no one except the person right after me, who said only, “nah.”

I should never take anything on Facebook personally; I’ve learned that the hard way lately, but I’m really tired of having to explain why coming out matters. And I do get that people struggle with apparent inconsistency in the idea that we need to make a big deal about being gay so that one day we won’t have to make a big deal about it.

In these times when arguments have to fit into 140 characters before your opponent drifts off to play Fruit Ninja, I think I need to find another approach than nuanced multi-layered reasoning.

Which brings me to California’s new ban on “Reparative Therapy” for LGBT kids. Homosexuality has been officially not a mental illness since 1973, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Curing homosexuality has been up there on the list of pointless and likely dangerous medical ideas that people have tried, right next to arsenic tea and skull drilling (“trepanning” for you word wonks), for almost 40 years.

You wouldn’t think we’d need a law to prevent such things, but because people like the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality (NARTH) and Liberace hair-clone Marcus Bachmann are still practicing the 21st century version of applying leeches to release unwanted evil spirits from the body, I guess we do. (You may contact NARTH — I recommend repeatedly and with many pointed questions — at info@narth.com if you would like further explanation).

So, when the NARTHs of the world are out there convincing parents that their kids need to be cured through total quackery, it’s good to know that those same parents might also tune into Good Morning America and see a happy, likeable gay man living his life fully and appropriately, just like his straight counterparts. Perhaps they will think twice about trying to fix their kids when there is nothing wrong with them to begin with.

This is why Sam Champion’s wedding announcement matters.

Still too convoluted? How about this tweet-sized argument instead: When straight celebrities announce their weddings, no one ever says “Please stop shoving it in our faces.” I mean, didn’t we also see Katie Couric’s bowel exam on TV?  #CongratulationsSamChampion.

California-based writer Abby Dees is the author of  Queer  Questions Straight Talk. She can be contacted via her website at QueerQuestionsStraightTalk.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2012.

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