Rick Mercer is a very successful CBC comedian.  He is also openly gay.  He also  says that all gay people who are in the public eye should be open about their homosexuality.  “I know gay cops, soldiers, athletes, cabinet ministers.”  Mercer says gay teenagers need them as role models because gay teens are being bullied and some take their own lives.

One of the signal victories of the past few decades has been to free gay people from the burden of secrecy.  Should they now be placed under an obligation of openess?

Mr. Mercer may be right that if all gay athletes, soldiers, politicians etc., were able to make their sexual orientation known far and wide, it would reduce the power of stereotype and spread tolerance.  It might weaken the the position of  the bullies, or at least give strength and comfort to vulnerable teens.

Mr. Mercer seems to be saying that it falls to successful gay adults to protect vulnerable gay teens from the problems associated with being different.

Should all gay people in public life come out?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    “Should” is not an imperative to apply to anyone except oneself. But, that aside, Rick has a good point, even if he draws the wrong conclusion.

    When being gay is no longer something that needs to be kept secret, there will be a lot less open homophobia and a lot more matter-of-factness about it. No one cares who is a virgin, or who has sex only in the approved-by-the-churches “missionary” position. Both those things used to be of great concern to the busybodies of society, but no longer. And the same will eventually happen with homosexuality.

    But no, no one who chooses not to be open about his sexuality should be forced to reveal more than he wishes. What DOES need to happen is that everyone stop prying into other folks’ private business.

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Anything, it seems to me, that undermines “open homophobia” is worth a second look.

  3. 3

    Should all i.e.: Christians, Prostitutes, Mentally ill, Alcoholics, Republicans, Communists,
    “in public life come out”?
    I think not.
    While it is true that we do get sensitized when we are better informed, it is not up to any group to “come out” to teach.

  4. 4

    The biggest thing to undermine open homophobia, Neil, is for one’s sexuality NOT to be a topic for public debate/speculation. But not at the expense of individual privacy. Whether one chooses to “come out” or not should always be a personal choice, without any undue pressure in either direction.

  5. 5

    PS: I didn’t know that Rick Mercer was gay. He has a terrific show.

    Re: “approved-by-the-churches “missionary” position… those things used to be of great concern to the busybodies of society”.
    The Catholic church was overly concerned with procreation, but I never heard they cared how the job got done. eee-ooo

  6. 6

    Patti, you must be pretty young not to know that not too long ago, it was completely illegal — punishable by prison — for a man and his wife to engage in oral sex even in the privacy of their own home! I remember a story in the newspaper in the seventies in which a couple were charged for exactly that. (Reported in either the Winnipeg Free Press or Tribune, if you want to go the one of the newspaper morgues and check it out for yourself) They had gotten passionate in their own kitchen, the curtains were slightly gaping, and a passing off-duty cop peeked through the opening and “caught” them at it. There was an unholy uproar about the couple’s perversion — nary a word on the cop’s Peeping Tomness, not the fact that he had to cross twenty feet of lawn and peek through an inch-wide gap in the curtain to “catch” them!

    It also used to be grounds for divorce or annulment is a woman was not a virgin on her wedding night. In some countries today, it is still grounds for punishment.

    And it’s not only the Catholic Church. Any version of Christianity has its own brand of allowedness when it comes to sex.

  7. 7

    Well what can you expect…Winnipeg. (Just joking).Some cultures have to do it through a hole in a sheet.
    I agree, there are some bizarre renditions, more to do with culture, rather than busybodies.- I am following the Shafia family court case in Kingston.
    I hadn’t heard of any recent version of Christianity having it’s own brand. Except of course, the “fringe element” (Bountiful, etc.) which I don’t believe are followers of Christ but outrageous cults, who claim to be Christians. And then of course, the unholy father’s who also claim to be Christians. Not Really!
    PS: I am 68 years of age and was reading Master’s & Johnson in the 50’s/60’s, but not the Winnipeg Free press. 🙂

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