The comedian’s outing by the Sydney Morning Herald this week has exposed a disappointing truth and overshadowed what she should be known for.
Rebel Wilson’s sexuality has eclipsed the news cycle this week, and I find it incredibly disappointing. Surely, we need to get to the point where sexuality isn’t such a loud conversation. Can’t it just be treated as mundane and ordinary? After all, it is.
In Wilson’s case, her sexuality has become such a story because Nine’s gossip columnist Andrew Hornery wanted to write an article about Wilson’s new girlfriend Ramona Agruma. Which then forced Wilson’s hand to announce she is now dating a woman. She wrote on her Instagram, “I thought I was searching for a prince…but what I really needed was a Disney Princess.” Cue fanfare, outcry and long conversations about how cruel it is to “out” someone.
All of which I agree with, people should choose how and when they announce their sexuality.
But I’m also annoyed by the general interest, outcry and excitement over Wilson’s sexuality. Why do any of us care so much? It sends a clear message to LGBTQIA+ people that their sexuality is newsworthy and matters, but does it? I think we should be getting to a place in society where someone’s sexuality isn’t news; it simply just is.
We need to reach a point where people don’t need to come “out” anymore. Where people can explore their sexuality without everyone wanting to put labels on it and talk about it obsessively. Wilson’s relationship announcement should have been just that, a relationship announcement and a slightly boring one considering she hasn’t paired up with another well-known celebrity.
Instead, people are now defining Wilson by her sexuality, there’s tweets, think pieces and plenty of heterosexual male radio hosts weighing in and perhaps people mean well, but I’m annoyed by it. Wilson is a comedian, an actress and a beloved figure in Australia, and now she’s being defined by the fact that she just happens to be dating a woman. I mean, really, who cares?
Of course, I understand there’s a separate conversation here to be had about Pride and representation but that is for Wilson to navigate. Instead, the public is pushing so much emphasis on her sexuality, something Wilson hasn’t even spoken about yet besides an Instagram post.
Annoyingly this is often what happens to celebrities when they declare their sexuality. They get typecast, labeled and put in a box. Therefore, so many people decide to stay in the closet. Everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Neil Patrick Harris has spoken about how the fact they’ve been open about their sexuality has stopped them from landing roles or made it harder for them to land their iconic roles.
DeGeneres famously said she was told coming out could, “ruin” her career and it even did until she landed her own talk show. While I think we’ve reached a point where a celebrity’s sexuality is no longer career breaking, I think it would be ignorant to pretend it still doesn’t impact their careers. So, it completely makes sense why Wilson may have not wanted to announce the news, she probably knew that her sexuality would become a giant conversation and a conversation ultimately, she’d have little control over.
Why? Because once again, as a society, we still seem to get a bit obsessed with people’s sexualities. We think it defines them, but how is that for us to decide?
I’m thrilled for Wilson that she’s found someone, is in love and is living her best life. But I’m also depressed that there’s still so much emphasis put on people’s sexualities; as Hugh Sheridan famously said, “Labels are for clothes, not for people!”