I’ve already mentioned my no-longer-secret celebrity crush on Lance Bass, but there are a couple of things still worth mentioning about his coming out. First of all, if you have a chance, go pick up People magazine and read the full interview with Bass. I read it while standing in line at the grocery store, and I think after reading it you come away from it feeling good about having read it.
Admittedly, it’s a sympathetic celebrity news piece, but it comes down to Lance coming out to his friends and family, some of whom struggled with it, but all of whom ended up embracing him. He’s also up front about his faith, that he still goes to church, and that he doesn’t feel conflicted about being gay and being a Christian. What’s more, he’s in a solid relationship and says he “definitely” wants to have kids. All in all, I say good for him.
Beyond the interview, though, the response to it from *NSYNC fans is even more interesting, and telling.
There were a few detractors, but the comments at MTV’s You Tell Us have been overwhelmingly positive. He may not want to be a role model or a “poster child,” but Bass’ coming out was an inspiration for some.
“As an ‘NSYNC fan for eight years — literally half my life — I was shocked when I heard the news, and I did cry,” said Taylor, 16, of Richmond, Virginia. “But even while I was crying, I knew I loved Lance all the same, just in a different way now. I support him completely, and as much as I admired him before, I respect him immeasurably now.”
“It is a little jarring to see someone I had a major crush on when I was in junior high come out of the closet,” agreed Rebecca, 20, of New York, “but going by the articles and the things he’s said, he’s really happy now, and that’s all that matters. I’m really happy that Lance is able to finally be himself without having to hide anything.”
“I just want to let him know that what he has done has encouraged me not to hide anymore either,” said Paul, 19, of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Lance Bass, an international star, to come out,” said Jarrid, 17, of Jonesboro, Georgia. “As a gay teen, I know that each of our own cases seems to be the worst and hardest there is, but the fact that he did it on such a large level, I truly admire him for doing this. Hats off to you, brother!”
The most telling part of the article is this bit.
By and large, however, Bass has a wealth of fans who approve of the singer’s decision. “I love this story,” wrote Mona, 15, of Austin, Texas. “I think it’s fantastic because it shows that Lance is happy with himself and that he is comfortable with who he is. It shows that it is OK to be gay and that there is nothing wrong with it.”
I don’t want to read too much into it, but just the sampling of statements from fans tends to underscore something I wrote about earlier; namely that younger Americans are a lot more accepting of gay people (and same sex marriage & other forms of legal recognition of same-sex relationships) than their elders. That, combined with other trends may mean that the scales will tip in favor of marriage equality in 10 years or so.
Other polling — in which the eldest Millennials were surveyed along with half of Xers to tell us about 18- to 29-year-old voters — likewise foretells a tipping point. Within perhaps 10 years, gay marriage will enjoy majority support nationwide because younger, more accepting voters will have replaced many of today’s 65-plus voters. Notable findings include:
Eighteen- to 29-year-olds are the first age group of voters to prefer gay marriage over other options for gay couples, 2004 election exit polls show. Asked their preference, 41 percent chose marriage for gay couples, 28 percent favored civil unions and only 30 percent said no recognition.
… The tipping point I foresee in 10 years may come earlier. Pew found a huge decline in “strong opposition” to gay marriage, “and the fall has been sharpest among seniors, Republicans and more moderate religious groups.”
The New York State Court of Appeals may not be willing or able to speculate on how future generations will vote on marriage equality, but maybe the court doesn’t need to. Those younger and future voters are already speaking up and probably will in the future too. We may have them, and time, on our side in the long run.