In a 2013 interview with the Canadian talk-show host George Stroumboulopoulos, the gay-rights activist Dan Savage said that members of the LBGT community have a "moral obligation" to come out. Individuals must own their stance; they must "eat it," whether out or not.
The paradox of being an out public figure, however, is very real. As Ellen Page tells Out magazine for its 20th Annual Out100 List, being openly gay was not a feasible option at the beginning of her career. "No one’s ever been so direct as to say, ‘You’re gay, so we’re gonna hide it,'" she says. "But, there’s an unspoken thing going on. [People] believe it’s the right thing to do for your career."
Page's career didn't take a nosedive after she came out in February 2014, though. Nor did the careers of Sam Smith, Zachary Quinto, or Samira Wiley — Out's three other cover stars. Writer Jason Lamphier challenges the seeming impossibility of Smith's mainstream success while being "a gay male artist with a debut album documenting his unrequited love for another man." But, it happened. And, it happened for each and every other figure featured in the Out100.
The contradictions of being an out public figure are being challenged, as this new normal — a normal years in the making — saturates all fields. We've reached a point in the fight for equal LGBT rights where sexuality is not the defining attribute in an individual's life; rather, it's a mere footnote.
Ahead, Out's four cover stars have more to say on the subject. As for us, well, all we have to say is, "It's about time."