Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Going Against The Grain On David Mundell's Coming Out

There's few moments in one's life as important as a gay man's "coming out". Maybe it is just to a friend, maybe to the whole world. But it will come with fear, relief and often celebration (especially where it happens voluntarily).

So I have a great deal of sympathy for David Mundell. In his fifties and now in the public eye, he has come out as gay.

But where I think I differ from a lot of people is that I have a variety of emotions about it which never seem to be reflected in the press coverage and social media applause.

  • This is a bittersweet moment for any gay man of Mundell's age, based on my personal experience. For although now the tension between private and public has been relieved, there is no turning back the clock. No chance to experience the life of the openly gay young man, an opportunity now forever missed. A tragedy for many men in Mundell's situation. 
  • Though I have no doubt it was difficult for Mundell to come and took personal courage, a man of Mundell's position is hardly at much risk of personal injury or insult in this day and age. Glib comments about his bravery must sting the young boy struggling in school, desperate to hide his true feelings from the savages that lurk within every school waiting for the first sniff of weakness or non-conformity. Now a boy coming out there... that takes real bravery!
  • Many often make out the story of a man of his age coming out will be inspirational to young gay guys facing a similar choice. This is hardly credible. How many young gay guys find themselves "inspired" by a politician in his 50s coming out? Most of them won't even know he did (or ever hear his name) for politics is not exactly the realm of the majority. And what is inspirational about a man who spent decades coming to terms with his sexuality? Is that something to aspire too? I'd hope not. 
  • Every time I see a news story about someone coming out, I just think "And?". Why is that even a news story nowadays? Man acknowledges he finds other men attractive. Wow. Mind-blowing. NEXT!
I know it is easy for someone like me who had a very gentle and easy coming out experience, with supportive friends and little trauma, to pontificate but these stories have started to grate with the glib comments and public self-congratulation from the great and good. Moments like are absolutely personally important to the person involved. But it is far gone time we just stopped caring about it. 

It'd all be a lot easier if our forebears had heeded Harvey Milk's advice 40 years ago. Alas. 

“Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene" 

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