In the movie Love, Simon, the titular character struggles with himself and his relationship with other people as he hides the fact that he’s gay. He had several internal dialogs about wanting to come out but still waiting for the right time. Ultimately, someone else exposed his true identity for everyone in their school to see.
This situation is all too common IRL. A gay/lesbian/bisexual person comes out to their friends or whoever follows them online, but a lot of them haven’t told their families. Sadly, sometimes there’s that person who’ll use this secret to gain attention or as a weapon to destroy someone.
Even people who are allegedly gay fall victim to this. When Tony Labrusca started trending online because of his behavior at the airport, there was one netizen who claimed Tony was with his boyfriend. Another tweeted the hashtag “#HeHasABF” like that’s part of the issue that everyone’s pissed about. (The latter has been deleted the last time I checked.)
Here’s the thing: Nobody knows for sure if Tony Labrusca is gay because, as far as we know, he hasn’t addressed this to the general audience. Still, if he is, in fact, gay, that still doesn’t give people an excuse to recklessly out him to anyone. If he’s not, it doesn’t make it any better because the LGBTQ+ would feel that they’re danger of being outed by people who don’t know them.
And no, we’re not defending Tony’s actions in any way—that’s unacceptable if it’s proven true. But if you’re going to call him out on anything, focus on his behavior and not the fact he was with an alleged boyfriend. It’s creating this narrative that being gay is bad—so much for equality, right?
What purpose does outing others serve anyway? It puts them in a situation they don't wanna be in, so it obvs won't "help the community" or "help them be true to themselves" like others say. Others even end up making it seem like being gay is a negative quality. So yeah, nil.
— Mikhail Quijano (@mikhailquijano) January 4, 2019
On the other hand, many probably think that they’re doing people a favor for simply telling the truth. Oh, they are. Though I don’t think it’s the same for anyone who’s been prematurely outed because some insensitive person just took away their power to do it when they’re ready. If you think about it, it’s another form of silencing the members of the LGBTQ+ community.
What these people don’t realize is how dangerous this act can be. There was a recent incident that trended on Twitter wherein a guy was practically disowned by his family because his post was spread on Facebook. The post, he said, was shared without his permission. A report by the National LGBTQ Task Force also stated that outing can lead to suicide, citing court cases and news headlines about gay people who were told that their secret will come out if they don’t comply, among others.
We’re all subscribed to this notion that our true selves matter. However, it’s not our job to force it upon other people. As Mikhail Quijano, Wolfe + Huntr co-founder, tweeted, “It puts them in a situation they don’t wanna be in, so it [obviously] won’t ‘help the community’ or ‘help them be true to themselves.’” So, you see, you’re not doing it for their interests. You’re catering to your own moral compass in the expense of other people’s comfort.
The next time you feel the need to tell everyone that someone—even your loved ones—is gay, ask yourself: Will it be okay with them? Did they already come out to the people I’m talking to right now? Will there be consequences if I mention their sexual orientation and/or identity? Am I even sure that my loved one isn’t straight?
If you answered no or are unsure, then zip it. That is not your call, it’s theirs.