Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Coming Out When You're Famous

Or, at least, semi-famous.

I'm kind of a comedy nerd, and I've long had mixed feelings about that. Sometimes I get disgusted with comedians - most frequently straight white dudes, but not always - who use their comedy to pick on people with less social capital than them. Misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are frequently part of comedians' acts. I'm looking at you, Andrew Dice Clay, Patrice O'Neal, Steven Wright, Tracy Morgan, etc.

But there are some comedians out there whom I usually feel are reliably progressive and cool. Jimmy Dore, for instance, frequently talks about how he believes that it's okay to pick on people with more social capital than you (Wall Street CEOs) but not less (homeless people). Louis CK, while sometimes a raging gender essentialist, can call out racists like you wouldn't believe. Jamie Kilstein not only does expressly political comedy, he hosts a podcast about progressive issues meant to counter the shit we get from the mainstream media. And Todd Glass, who used to co-host a podcast with Jimmy Dore, has been calling for homophobes to kill themselves for at least the last five years, which is about as long as I've been following his career.

Glass used to - and still does - talk about how people opposing gay rights and shit like that in the 2000s is like someone calling for segregation in 1989. It doesn't make sense, and people are going to be embarrassed as shit about this later, or at least, so we hope.

Well, yesterday, on fellow comedian Marc Maron's podcast, Todd Glass came out as gay. I sat down on the floor of my dining room and just listened to Todd talk about his experiences as a closeted gay comedian and didn't move for a solid 45 minutes. Then I re-listened to the podcast this morning, and I'll probably do it again later today. At first I wasn't convinced it was for real, but it is. Todd Glass is gay. This is really, really great.

It's not just great because I think gay people are great - though it is for that reason also - but because Glass is a really famous comedian. He's had enormous levels of success in the field, appeared on Last Comic Standing, and is frequently referred to as "the comedian's comedian." He's brilliant. And now he's out, and people like Dice Clay and Morgan and those other shitheads who know him are going to have to think again about their homophobic shit because one of their friends is gay now.

What got me super teared up was his statement that he's coming out now because he can't watch any more kids kill themselves and stay silent. He's 100% right. People need to come out, we need to be out, because, as I've said before, it's making the world safer.

Caveat: Don't come out if it's not safe for you. I get it. Some of us are privileged to be able to be out and not lose our homes or put ourselves at the risk for violence from family or roommates or whatever. Not everyone is. This is important.

I wrote a gushy e-mail to Todd Glass and I'm sure he's going to get more of those. People everywhere will be as delighted and filled with warmth as I am, I hope. If I could give Todd Glass a huge hug, I would. I'm so glad he's using his privilege to help people. He alluded to starting a campaign of some kind to help kids. Todd, I eagerly await the details. I'm so proud of you.

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