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Bad Feminist: Book Discussion Series

Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist - March 2018 Library Book Discussion, sponsored by ISU Library's Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

About Privacy & Coming Out

LGBTQ Pride Flag

- Pride Flag

Gay's essay, "A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories," questions whose business is it, and why should we care, when celebrities come out? Why is there so much interest in knowing? Why do we really need to know "...all the intimate details of the private lives of very public people," as Gay puts it. Why do we demand that LGBT celebrities come out and serve publicly as "role models" for all LGBT people?

She also problematizes privacy and privilege and the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Does a celebrity like Anderson Cooper enjoy more privacy, or have less to worry about when coming out than, say, Frank Ocean or Sally Ride or Ricky Martin?  What about LGBT people who don't share the privileges of wealth or fame or color privilege, those who could lose their jobs or parenting rights?

Gay unequivocally states in the essay the importance of being an ally:  

"As individuals, we may not be able to do much, but when we're silent when someone uses the word "gay" as an insult, we are falling short. When we don't vote to support equal marriage rights, we are falling short. ...We are failing our communities. We are failing civil rights. There are injustices great and small, and even if we can only fight the small ones, at least we are fighting.

Too often, we fail to ask ourselves what sacrifices we will make for the greater good. What stands will we take? We expect role models to model the behaviors we are perfectly capable of modeling ourselves. We know things are getting better. We know we have far to go."

-Roxane Gay, A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories,
in Bad Feminist, p. 197, Harper Collins 2014 ed.


Privacy & Coming Out:  Definition & Readings


coming out
  1. 1.
    refers to the process that people who are LGBTQ go through as they work to accept their sexual orientation or gender identity and share that identity openly with other people.  
    Source: Planned Parenthood
    Note: It was surprisingly hard to find an adequate and unbiased definition for coming out. This nuanced definition from Planned Parenthood is part of a supportive guide aimed at young adults.

Selected Readings - Privacy & Coming Out


The following are mentioned in Gay's essay: