Although rumours of her sexuality had been circulating the web for the better part of a year, former Disney star, Raven Symoné publicly acknowledged her orientation on Twitter a few days ago. The reactions proved that homophobia is still rife in society, despite the march towards marriage equality in much of the Western world.
Other than dying or having a baby, there is nothing more provocative a celebrity can do than come out of the closet. Time and time again, the public and the media have worked up a storm over the sexuality of the likes of Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Zachary Quinto etc. Although, nobody is at all perturbed by a confession of bisexuality as every female pop star will tell you; it’s the must-have edge to a star’s persona. Regardless, this confession in a supposedly tolerant society shouldn’t cause a stir – more a passing acknowledgement and then let’s get on with our lives. Having said that, a media frenzy is a much more welcome reaction than the one Raven Symoné received. An account called ‘Childhood Ruined’ that tweets sinister observations of popular crazes from people’s childhood tweeted the news as if it had somehow tainted her hit comedy show, ‘That’s So Raven’. Frighteningly, people latched on to the tweet to agree with its sentiment. Even celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris, perhaps most famous for playing womaniser, Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother who has been ‘out’ for years is still targeted with (hopefully) inadvertent homophobic comments.
We can see the prominence of homophobia in sports such as football where homosexuality is fair game for a cheap ‘banterous’ dig at the opposition, meaning that discriminatory insults are likely to lurk in the minds of kids for generations to come. Also, recently there has been a rise in ‘homophobic’ terms seen on social networking sites with remarks like ‘faggot’, ‘no homo’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ becoming increasingly popular social vernacular. Although, usually non-intended with any malice, these words can affect the confidence of young LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender) people wondering whether they are in a safe environment to be who they are, a potentially permanent effect on their self esteem. One site (NoHomophobes.com) has collated all of the tweets with the previously mentioned terms in since July 5th 2012. Astonishingly, today alone, there have been (as of 5:17pm BST); 34,311 tweets mentioning ‘faggot’, 8,354 ‘no homo’ tweets, 8,275 ‘so gay’ posts and 2,735 utterances of ‘dyke’. Remember, this is just tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, ask.fm questions and Tumblr posts are not included in those scarily high numbers. Statistics show that 64% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school, which is no surprise given the popularity of homophobic slurs in modern slang. It’s tough enough to come out as gay when you’re pretty sure you’ll be accepted but the uses of such language will only make youths doubt their comfort in themselves. Harmful lies about gay stereotypes are also stacked against many people today. The view that gay men are always effeminate lead to the ‘no homo’ catchphrase, only enforcing the idea that a gay youth being themselves will change people’s perception of them.
I obviously realise that a lot of the uses of homophobic slang is not meant in a derogatory way but the words will have an affect on others and society in the long run. Pretty much every person has had a critical joke made about them and wondered if there was any sincerity behind it, this is exactly the same. Don’t alienate people – think before you speak.
- That So Raven Star Comes Out of the Closet Via Twitter (gushamoonation.wordpress.com)
- My Reaction to Some Guy’s Reaction To Raven-Symone’s Coming Out (eligabler.wordpress.com)
- Raven-Symone Gay Announcement Rocks Twitter, Apparently Ruins Some Childhoods (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Raven-Symone Comes Out As Gay! Thanks Supreme Court For Right To Finally Marry! (perezhilton.com)