I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Support is one thing...
I remember teaching an English class one day a couple years ago - strangely enough, teaching English is my job, but teaching kids is my career - and one of the kids accidentally spilled to a friend that she was seeing a girl. Up to that point, from what I gather, she hadn't come out at school, but the friends she had in the small class had been gently teasing her, trying to figure out who she'd been seeing and who'd been putting the big smile on her face.
It was really the sort of conversation that might happen when kids are sort of distracted and not really all that focused on the work, and as I was gently trying to bring them back on task, I heard the girl mention that the person she was seeing was another girl. This elicited a lot of big smiles and "that's awesome" from a few of the kids, but you could tell the student was really nervous about how her friends would now see her, given she effectively admitted she was gay.
After the congratulations died down, one young man said quietly, "I'm bi, too."
The attention turned, and as the others in this class began again with "that's cool" or "that's awesome," I realized something didn't sit quite right with me, so I looked at the young man and asked if he was telling the truth. There was something in my gut that told me he wasn't quite sincere; I didn't know what it was, but I felt I had to ask. The young man blushed and admitted that he came forward to say what he did so the girl who'd just admitted her sexuality to our small group of 10 students wouldn't feel so alone.
It was a noble act, really, but I explained that while his heart was in the right place, he needed to know that pretending or admitting he was someone or something he was not wasn't appropriate. Thankfully, the situation ended well; the girl was touched by the support of her classmates, equally touched that no one had made a big deal about her admitting she was attracted to girls, and life went on.
It was one of my favorite moments in the classroom, not because I like to see students uncomfortable or worried, but because my students supported this one friend who felt so very different, and in the long run, she left the conversation feeling like she was supported and that she was, indeed, normal.
I couldn't help but be reminded of that incident when I read that Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey may or may not have come out as gay in a recent Snapchat he'd posted.
A bad decision...
"I'm Gay...I'm lamp!"
To say that Tyler Posey's Snapchat was odd would be an understatement. He first stated, rather joyfully, that he was gay while standing under a street sign labelled "Gay Street" in New York City, only to later zoom in on a lamp and then say with the same glee, "I'm lamp."
Of course, social media lit up at this rather odd seeming confession. As a young star of a popular television show, Tyler Posey has a lot of followers; in fact, at last count, he has over two million followers on Twitter, and there were quite a few who were very confused over what he appeared to be saying on Snapchat.
When he later admitted that he was, in fact, not gay, his supporters were still effervescent in his support, but there were still a number of users who were understandably annoyed. One asked why, if he just wanted to demonstrate love and support for the LGBT community for which he's shown a lot of support in the past, he didn't just say, "I want to love and support the LGBT community," while another user said they would not be "down" with Tyler Posey making what the Twitter user felt was little more than a joke in poor taste about the coming out process.
Posey did apologize for the fake coming out, but I still have concerns.
This is a 24-year-old man who wields a lot of influence with kids and young adults who watch his show. Why would he even think this was an effective way to demonstrate his support for the LGBT community? Did he lack the understanding necessary to truly understand what coming out means to those who identify as a member of the LGBT community, or the dangers that many in that community face simply for being who they are?
Did he make the video as a way of coming out but when he realized the backlash he created, tried to recant because he got scared?
Social media is a very effective tool - with the right consideration before use. The thing is, there's almost an immediate response to anything and everything we post. Posey has the right to post without having to go through a manager or agent every time he wants to post something online - he is an individual and like it or not, people should respect that.
I don't know how many followers Posey has on other social media platforms, but if the 2 million or so users he has on Twitter are anything to go by, he likely has a fair number of followers on Snapchat and on Facebook. He needs to remember that anything that gets posted online is there forever. People have already figured out how to save Snapchats, so there was no escaping the fact that his "I'm gay" post would make the rounds and still continue to follow him.
Who Knows the Real Motives?
We can theorize as much as we want about why Tyler Posey decided to go on Snapchat, proclaim, "I'm gay," then apologize for doing it. It could very well be that Posey thought this was a good way to show his solidarity with the LGBT community, misguided though it was.
He has, however, alienated a number of people by doing so. At 24, one would think that he would be aware enough that his decisions and what he puts out on social media is watched literally by millions and that others could be influenced in one way or another by what he says and does. While he is a known prankster on social media, joking about your sexual orientation is not cool. Members of the LGBT community have literally fought for years to gain acceptance and equal footing with the heterosexual community in the eyes of the law, and Posey's apparent ignorance of how important it is for others to feel respected for who they are has implied a certain lack of understanding or a lack of respect. No one can be fully certain of which one it is, but if Posey is treating this as though he was trying to show solidarity with a still-marginalized sector of society, he needs to rethink his strategy.