AfterElton.com has just released it's list of eleven public figures who made the bold step to publicly disclose their sexual orientation in 2009 at the risk of alienating fans, financial loss, and a fury of backlash. A few notables that made the list are pop singer Adam Lambert, Louis Van Amstel (Dancing With The Stars), Matt Doyle (Gossip Girl), and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family). But none of the aforementioned stood to lose as much as gospel singer Tonex' by admitting their homosexuality.
You may recall reading about Tonex's controversial coming out on this blog back in September and the subsequent exclusive interview granted to lodarian.com in his native San Diego.
AfterElton on their decision to include Tonex':
"Tonex takes a no nonsense approach to his same-sex attraction, emphasizing it’s not a struggle, and it’s not from a result of having been molested as a child. He seems to understand he’s risking his career in gospel, but that is worth also helping others by being honest about himself. He’s become a target of ex-gay activists like Donnie McClurkin, but he’s still making music. Even better, he was just nominated for a Grammy in the Best Urban Alternative Performance category."
As I read over the list it suddenly became troubling and not at the fault of AfterElton.com. The first thing I noticed was ten out of eleven individuals mentioned shared one thing in common-they're all white. Tonex' is the only person to appear from the gospel music industry (which we all know has it's share of gay men) to the more mainstream entertainment industry which we also know is filled with LGBT people of color in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
In no way am I indirectly suggesting gay entertainers should feel obligated to come out as it's a deeply personal decision. But how much longer will black entertainers (*cough* Queen Latifah, Eddie Murphy, Tyler Perry) and ordinary black folks continue to keep the pad lock on the closet door?
I'm always hearing about what we stand to lose by coming out but I rarely hear anyone talk about what an individual stands to gain by living authentically.
Kudos to Tonex' for leading the way in 2009. Hopefully someone else will be brave enough in 2010 to accept the baton and run with it...we'll see.