By The Way, We're Gay

Pop culture is unmatched in its ability to lead a shift in the national mood. If you doubt it, consider that when Vice President Joe Biden revealed his support for same-sex marriage this spring, he noted that ''Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public'' than anything else. So although the drip-drip-drip steadiness of coming-out news can seem inconsequential, cumulatively the stories serve as the very quiet herald of a major tectonic shift. What was impossible 60 years ago and dangerous 40 years ago and difficult 20 years ago is now becoming no big deal. There are more and more actors like Chris Colfer, whose transformation from an unknown 19-year-old to a TV star in 2009 was accomplished without any ''coming out'' moment at all. He was simply out, and therefore didn't have to manage or strategize any revelation once he became famous. As Colfer's generation — the kids for whom public self-presentation via social media is almost a first language — comes of age and takes the spotlight, coming-out stories will give way, more often, to being-out stories. Or, more likely, nonstories. Five years from now, maybe we won't even feel compelled to draw your attention to them. But in 2012, it's still worth pausing for a moment to celebrate the people who are paving that road and, strange as it sounds, the approach of a day when news like this is so much a part of the fabric of everyday life that it won't merit the cover of this magazine. (Additional reporting by Melissa Maerz, Nuzhat Naoreen, and Adam B. Vary)

Originally posted Jun 22, 2012 Published in issue #1213 Jun 29, 2012 Order article reprints
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