Time to persuade them to come out
Her speech, made with a trembling voice, was broadcast around the world through major media outlets, including the BBC, YouTube and other social media channels. She expressed her ardent feelings about coming out. “I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” she said. “I suffered for years because I was afraid to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered.”
There are other actresses who have came out as gay, including Jodie Foster, but not many have publicly discussed the terrible pain of living a life hiding one’s sexual identity. To this end, the coming out of Page was an important event that improved the rights of sexual minorities.
In the West, the public generally recognizes that not all men and women are straight. “LGBT” - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender - has been used as a neutral term for some time to refer to sexual minorities. Some also use the term “queer.” They have promoted the movement to improve their rights under the banner of a rainbow flag, which symbolizes the diversity of sexual minorities.
Their efforts have shown progress recently. “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis said last July, making clear his objection to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the host country of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, signed an antigay propaganda bill into law in July last year, but he stepped back after the International Olympic Committee and FIFA pressured against discriminating against sexual minorities.
The U.S. Senate also passed a bill in November last year to protect sexual minorities from discrimination in the workplace.
According to a report by the BBC, Uganda recently made an attempt to institute a law imposing up to a lifetime of imprisonment for homosexuality. Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement condemning the move. Susan Rice, the national security adviser for the White House, said via Twitter that she had spoken to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for a long time and persuaded him not to sign the law.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Chingusai (Between Friends), Korea’s first human rights group for sexual minorities. A society of advancement, tolerance and openness means no one should face discrimination for being different. When the Netherlands legalized same-sex sexual activity in 1811, the talented people of Europe who had suffered from discrimination for their sexual orientation flocked to the country. The time has come for Korea to persuade sexual minorities to come out of the shadow.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 18, Page 35
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By CHAE IN-TAEK