Robin Roberts, ABC Good Morning America star, came out publicly on Facebook this week. It was simple, it was no frills, it was throughly banal. As it should be.
Robin has been excellent at everything for awhile now, from her days as a standout college athlete all the way through ESPN and onto Good Morning America with ABC. I’m not a huge fan of GMA, but I am a huge fan of Robin. Her personal story, mainly her difficult journey with cancer, touches me in a deep and resounding way. She is smart, poised, pleasant and accessible. And it matters that she came out.
For better or worse, celebrities are harrbingers of American culture. We look to them for cues like what to want, how to look, and to gauge where the American dream is. Sometimes, this is really really depressing.
Sometimes, it’s really pretty.
And in cases like this, it is an important weather vane. Robin’s sexuality has been an open secret for a long time, but this level of nonchalance still feels new. Celebrities have been coming out with varying degrees of success for awhile, but not long ago it was still a huge risk.
I’m happy the main reaction to her photo caption was a shrug. But still, even today it’s important when main stream culture gets reminded that they already know and like gay people. When this happens, it makes ‘gay’ less over there, less scary, less other. I’m not saying that her coming out is going to change the minds of biggots, but it chips away at the people who are ignorant. Because, like it or not, people feel as if they know her. So now, just maybe, someone who thinks they don’t know anyone who is gay (which probably isn’t true) can now watch Robin in the mornings and feel as if they have a personal connection with gay culture and gay people. And I’m hopeful that the first step towards complete love and acceptance of all people is getting to know ‘the other’, and realizing they are just as unique and stupid and clever and fucked up and optimistic and cynical and hard working and fun as you are. So I applaud Robin yet again, for breaking her own story in the perfect, understated but self-assured way. Let the flannel and OITNB jokes commence!