A Tale of Two Closets

Yet more celebrities came out in 2011, but it was a different kind of closet that told a compelling story of identity

Mr. Spock is gay.

Or, at least, this Star Trek timeline’s version of the iconic Vulcan is played by Zachary Quinto, who came out in 2011 after years of speculation. In an interview with New York magazine and on his blog, Quinto said the suicide of gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer — who had made an ”It Gets Better” video not long before his death — was the tipping point for his decision.

Closer to Earth, CNN anchor Don Lemon emerged from his glass closet, acknowledging publicly what he had already acknowledged privately (and, like Quinto, was already assumed by many in the LGBT community). His memoir, Transparent, helped fuel a spate of media stories about gay journalists, including plenty of speculation about Lemon’s CNN stablemate, Anderson Cooper. Cooper stayed in the closet for 2011, though published rumors claim that 2012 may be a big year for him.

Perhaps the most interesting coming out story of 2011 involved a completely different closet. Openly gay journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, formerly of The Washington Post and Huffington Post, came out in a moving New York Times essay as an undocumented immigrant. Sent to the U.S. from the Philippines as a child, Vargas only discovered his status when he went for a driver’s license in high school. He hid in his career, determined to somehow ”earn” his place as an American. ”I had to believe that if I really wanted it bad enough I was going to get it,” Vargas told Metro Weekly. ”To me, that’s meritocracy. No one can take away my work.”

With his coming out and the co-founding of a new organization, Define American, Vargas helped push immigration and the DREAM Act — a bill that would provide a citizenship path to people like Vargas who were raised undocumented in the U.S. — to the fore at the same time that immigration took on increasing prominence in the fight for marriage equality.


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Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.