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Is coming out over? Let's hope Jim Parsons' nonchalant gay "disclosure" is the new normal

Is coming out over? Let's hope Jim Parsons' nonchalant gay "disclosure" is the new normal

Buried deep in The New York Times' exhaustive overview of Houston native Jim Parsons' career on stage and his acting craft is one seemingly benign sentence:

"'The Normal Heart' resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said."

The Internet hive mind has dubbed this Parsons' "coming out," but that unfairly implies that he has been living in the closet. He hasn't. His relationship has been open knowledge to anyone who cared enough to Google it, and there are plenty of paparazzi photos of Parsons and partner Todd Spiewak, not to mention shots of them together at award shows. This is just the first major publication written acknowledgement of Parson's sexual orientation, and it doesn't even merit the entire sentence.

 The days of announcing "Yep, I'm Gay" on the cover of Time magazine are over, and that's actually quite refreshing. 

The days of announcing "Yep, I'm Gay" on the cover of Time magazine are over, and that's actually quite refreshing.

In the past year fellow Houstonian Matt Bomer acknowledged his relationship with Simon Halls (with whom he has three children) via an award acceptance speech and Zachary Quinto nonchalantly dropped "the bomb" in New York mag when talking about his role in Angels in America. This month Queen Latifah said she was happy to be "among [her] people" while performing at the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival (though some argue that it wasn't a true coming out — I guess she could have just been referring to everybody in the LBC).

What each "outing" has in common is that the actors brought up their status in a way that was relevant to the moment or conversation, not in a way that implied that their sexual orientation is newsworthy.

There are celebrities who like to make their relationships front page news — they are called Kardashians, and we hate them for it, remember? Demanding that gay celebrities talk about their sexual orientation while leaving straight celebrities their privacy is a weird double standard, and furthers the assumption that everyone is straight unless they constantly and publicly declare themselves otherwise. Anderson Cooper doesn't talk about his sexuality, but neither does Soledad O'Brien.

We live in a time where some celebrities will use extreme measures to hide being gay while others make that status a major part of their public identity and persona. For Parsons, Bomer, etc., maybe the more authentic path is somewhere in the middle.