Staff Ed: ‘Outing’ Becoming In Style

Rashad Muhammad, Opinion Editor

There is no deadline when it comes to acquiring bravery. Some feel that they’re born with a sense of valor and others are waiting for courage to grow within them.

“Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.”

Jason Collins, 34-year-old NBA free agent, stated this in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated (SI) magazine. It was in reference to the level of preparation that closeted gays needed in order to publicly reveal their sexual orientation.

Collins recently became the first openly gay active player on a major U.S. sports team.

He has stated many reasons why he decided to publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation. The majority of his reasons were highly honorable, but one of his reasons strings an emotional chord that many gay men and women have to bare.

“In a way, my coming out is preemptive,” Collins said to SI. “I shouldn’t have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make.”

Some people within the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community seem to be indifferent to the unprepared and their psychological turmoil.

A perfect example involves the current situation of free agent NFL safety Kerry Rhodes.

Rhodes was assumed to be heterosexual until some conflicting reports were revealed. Allegedly his former boyfriend, Russell “Hollywood” Simpson, outed Rhodes by leaking pictures of the two embracing each other and also releasing text messages between the pair.

Rhodes has since publicly denied the two were a couple even though seemingly insurmountable evidence disagrees with him.

The issue is not about Rhodes’ sexual orientation or preferences. The problem with this dilemma involves the depravity and downright disrespect Simpson portrayed in all of this.

In many interviews over the past few weeks, Simpson has illustrated how bitter and scorned he was because of Rhodes. Since he was emotionally distressed he took it upon himself to “out” the NFL safety.

Simpson even states that people, especially women, should be happy that he outed Rhodes.

The trend of former partners outing celebrities has become very popular over the past year. These partners believe that by outing these players they’re either performing a utilitarian deed or getting back at their former flames for the heartache they may have caused.

They may think they’re doing a public service, but in reality they are doing more harm than most right-wing conservatives. It’s villainous because they abuse their position by taking private information and purposefully revealing it to the public without consent.

What many of these “outers” fail to recognize is the readiness of some closeted gay individuals. Just because some may be courageous enough to face ridicule and condemnation doesn’t mean everyone else is ready to follow suit.

As Jason Collins well knows, coming out to one person is already a process. Coming out publicly is one of the most arduous things a gay person will do in their lifetime. Your solution should not be their problem. If they did not give you the right to speak on a personal topic then you don’t have that right, period. It is not your responsibility to make them a sacrificial lamb for the cause.

In the battle of gay rights, it is pertinent to not forget the people you’re fighting for. Part of this battle is to ensure that gays, openly and closeted, are able to fully embrace who they are as individuals. This is a mentally rigorous process that is not to be taken lightly.

Some may never be able to admit who they really are but that is their problem. They will have to deal with that for the rest of their lives.

It is morally despicable for someone to “out” another person without his or her permission. Closeted gays are not sitting ducks isolated for critical target practice. Forcing people to come out is blatant victimization.

If they’re not brave enough to publicly claim who they really are, it is not up to “vigilantes” to do it for them.

Some people desperately want a hero and some just simply aren’t ready to be rescued.