Complacency Will Be Our Pitfall

In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories”, Roxane Gay speaks about privacy and the privileges that public figures are not afforded in terms of their privacy. Humans often view the right to privacy as an unalienable human right. However this is all thrown out of the window once someone ascends to fame. This dismissal of people’s right to privacy is made especially clear when public figures who identify as lgbtq+ are expected to come out and publicly declare how they identify.

I agree with the sentiment expressed in this piece. However I walked away from reading this with a sense of hopelessness. If I understood her correctly, Gay expressed that the burden of sacrificing one’s privacy for the greater good of society shouldn’t be placed on public figures, it should be placed on all of us. We should all be willing to sacrifice our privacy for the greater good too. We should speak up when small offenses are made against marginalized people. But why would it be okay in situations like congressmen Edward Schrock’s where he sabotaged his own self interest and worked against the greater good of the people? Is it justified because he’s protecting his unalienable right while simultaneously barring millions of people from being able to exercise their unalienable rights? Isn’t he one of “us”? He didn’t need to sacrifice his privacy in order to do the right thing, so why are his actions justified? Although I don’t agree with him being publicly outed, why should we sympathize with him when he is failing to hold himself accountable for his actions as one of “us”?

My greatest take away from this piece is how much complacency can be a detriment to the cause we are advocating for. When we relinquish our responsibility of advocacy and let public figures (sometimes involuntarily) assume that role, we are being complacent. While we should praise them for their courage to come out and be “counted”, we should also make sure to “ask ourselves what sacrifices we will make for the greater good”(169).