Years ago an individual’s announcement of being gay came with a tidal wave of shock and campaigns questioning the morals of society.
Like Ellen DeGeneres’s announcement in 1997 that sparked front-page coverage with Time Magazine. Today an individual is able to get by with less exposure – Anderson Cooper’s announcement in July was merely a trending topic on Twitter for a few hours.
This is because slowly, progressively, today’s younger generation is beginning to accept the fact that there are, indeed, gay people in the world.
Even more, this generation is beginning to defend its peers and making use of social media to do so.
When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo voiced support for an upcoming ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage in Maryland recently, state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti asking him to keep his player quiet.
Backlash ensued from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who wrote his own letter to Burns, defending Ayanbadejo’s freedom of expression and calling Burns a bigot, among other expletives.
Ayanbadejo admitted that his expression of gay rights once led to gay jokes in the locker room but has now turned into support from both teammates and fans of the sport.
With Ayanbadejo drawing support on Facebook, athletes may soon begin to express their beliefs without doing so warily.
In recent years, a number of celebrities, both gay and straight, have stepped forward in expressing support for gay rights.
In 2009, Brad Pitt donated $100,000 to fighting Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that would eliminate rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Despite it passing, Pitt stood by his belief that no one could deny another individual their rights, even if they did not agree with it.
Others that opposed the proposition include Drew Barrymore, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Aniston.
While social media has paved the way for individuals speaking out on gay acceptance, television has also shaped the changing culture that includes a gay community.
Whether it is “Glee’s” Kurt Hummel or “Pretty Little Liars’” Emily Fields or even “Modern Family’s” Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker, gay characters have become much more involved on television, more so than when daytime soap operas were barely introducing the idea.
And it is not just the characters that are coming out: “Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons and “White Collar’s” Matt Bomer admitted they are gay.
Parsons shrugged off his announcement, telling reporters that he hoped this was not something that would come to define his character.
While there’s still much more development to be made as far as gay rights, there is still room to celebrate the bit of progress there is now.