After actress Meredith Baxter came out to Matt Lauer on The Today Show this morning, the headlines began:
Congratulations, Ms. Baxter, but I hate to see the media utilizing words like "shocker," "reveals," "admits" or anything else that made it seem like coming out was a shameful secret that was finally addressed. The fact that Meredith felt like she had to come out publicly after living openly with her partner for four years is debatable enough (the public feels as if they are owed a statement, but the gay community can benefit from famous faces at the same time); but when her statement of "I'm a lesbian ... I'm happy ... I'm a mother" becomes something negative, it's as if any positivity of the situation gets turned into something less than.
Luckily, Meredith's decision to make her sexuality of public interest is, as she says, "political" as much as it is personal. She wanted to share her life "in her own words," which was something she probably felt more compelled to do when photos of her on a lesbian cruise ship showed up on PerezHilton.com earlier this week and speculation and gossip ran amok. But what I respect the most about the situation is her statement that "People who know homosexuals tend to be more accepting of them." I'm a firm believer in coming out, personally or publicly, and on your own terms. And I hope that the people who read reports on Meredith or others "admitting" they are gay will read the entire thing so they see more than just the headline.
Thank you L.A. Times, CNN, MSNBC and other media types who state the facts and let Meredith speak for herself.