By Anna Peirano
Today, the Advocate reported that actor Victor Garber has publicly confirmed that he is gay. While the virality of this announcement is something to celebrate, it is not the first time the actor has made reference to his orientation in an interview.
Which leaves me wondering: what constitutes coming out? Is it the public acknowledgement of a relationship or an admittance of attraction, or does it require a direct question with a direct answer?
Despite the recent trend in what is being referred to as "coming out quietly," are we still hankering for the magazine covers and shock and awe to feel like someone has really done the community a solid in adding another famous name to the team?
In a post published today by Greg Hernandez of Greg in Hollywood, the blogger writes that he met Garber for an interview last week. Hernandez asked Garber about a Wikipedia entry that lists his partner as a man named Rainer Andreesen, a portrait artist. "I wonder if that's something public, that you've confirmed," Hernandez asked Garber.
According to Hernandez's article, Garber looked surprised by the question, before answering, "I don't really talk about it but everybody knows. He's going to be out here with me for the SAG Awards."
As Garber said, everyone knew, yet his sexual orientation was not often mentioned. He doesn't show up on many slideshows or lists of power gays or those who are out and open in Hollywood. Yet he follows other actors who have mentioned partners in passing, in interviews, or in thank you speeches on stage. Garber mentioned his partner in a previously published interview in 2012, and the couple have been spotted, documented, and mentioned together for years before that.
In the article published in 2012, written for "Forever Young News," reporter Hal Drucker asked Garber what his proudest achievement was. Garber says, “My relationships with my family and my friends. My companion Rainer Andreesen and I have been together almost 13 years in Greenwich Village. We both love New York.”
But there has never been a big coming out, a declaration of "I am gay, hear me roar." It's great that Garber's orientation is becoming more widely known, that the news media is just now picking up on it as article-worthy material. But it's not breaking news, and it's interesting that the 2012 article didn't count as a coming out, or at least, wasn't picked up by a wider circulation of press.
All the same, every person in the public eye that is out and open, and vocal about it, inspires others struggling to embrace that part of themselves.
And before you start ranting about an actor's right to privacy (a la Jodie Foster's Golden Globes speech), or the fact that a person's sexuality shouldn't matter, or asking why we make such a big deal about coming out etc, let me stop you.
We have to admit that we are a society of hero worshipping, pedestal placing, celebrity adoring people. We look up to those in the public eye to inform us on what's cool, what's beautiful, what's trendy, what's good. And those who would argue for privacy are right - celebrities don't owe us anything when it comes to the currency of their private lives.
But we can't deny that it does make a difference - to the young people who look up to them, to the adults who would like to be them, to the parents who want the best for their children, who want to save them from what they believe is a difficult road. Figures like Ellen DeGeneres, Matt Bomer, Anderson Cooper, Janet Mock and others help to change the perception of what it means to be LGBT.
In an anonymous post on a Raineer Andreeson Tumblr blog, one person, username "victorgarberconfessions" writes, "I'm bisexual, and I'm nonchalant about it on the internet but in real life, I'm still agonizing over whether I'll ever have the courage to come out…Victor Garber is one of my role models because he's so self-assured and self-confident; he's out, but he doesn't make a deal about it and for the most part neither does anyone else. And he and Rainer Andreesen seem to have a wonderful relationship. I just look up to both of them a lot."
And each public person who agrees with the argument that it's no big deal, that it shouldn't matter, and that they're as proud of what they've accomplished in their life as anyone - they all contribute to truly making one's sexuality a non-issue. As the culture of coming out continues to evolve, we'll continue to see how society evolves with it.
For now, kudos again to Victor Garber who has lived his life openly, and whether this is his official public coming out or not, I'm glad to include him in a list of people I look up to.