'I Was Outed By Someone Else - No One Should Have To Go Through That'
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Featured Image Credit: Jessica White / @rebelwilson Instagram
The Sydney Morning Herald published a column revealing they had given the actor two days to provide a comment on her relationship with her girlfriend.
The journalist who wrote the column, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community himself, denied he would have outed Rebel. The newspaper editor Bevan Shields admitted that 'mistakes were made in our approach to Wilson and I apologise for them'.
Rebel's situation would have been all too familiar for Jessica White, who had her privacy threatened after a relative outed her to the rest of her family.
Jessica, 28, was on holiday with her three-year-old daughter when a family member allegedly attempted to take matters into their own hands and tell the rest of her nearest and dearest 'to try and throw me under the bus'.
“My family member was upset with me over something stupid and decided that it was a good idea to say that I had been intimate with a woman… She knew that she was the only family member that knew,” Jessica claimed.
Jessica, an Ontario-based administrator who identifies as somewhere 'between queer and bisexual', told UNILAD: “I never felt like I had to come out, really. If I show up with a woman and say, ‘this is my partner’, you’ll know what it is.
“I don’t feel the need to come out and make it this big thing, even though that works for some people.
“So, to take that away from somebody and to force them to speak before they're ready, I think in any situation that’s not okay.”
When Jessica returned home and found out that the person she once trusted had seemingly gone behind her back, she felt 'betrayed'.
She said: “I just felt like I couldn’t trust them… That was a really hard situation.”
Jessica has since not been able to speak to them about it. She added: “What’s the point? I’m not going to trust them going forward.”
Jessica and Wilson are not alone; there have been countless occasions where media pressure has forced people in the public eye to talk about a matter they’d rather have kept private.
“I feel like for them to take that away from someone on such a big scale…it should be when you’re ready when you feel comfortable,” Jessica said.
“No one should be forced to come out, no one should feel threatened to come out. I don’t feel like someone should have to come out and explain their personality if they don’t want to.”
In fact, the director of communications and external affairs at Stonewall, an LGBTQ+ charity, echoed this important sentiment, telling UNILAD: “Coming out is a deeply personal decision. Whether, when and how to come out should be decided by the individual, entirely on their terms."
Robbie de Santos continued: “It is simply not OK to 'out' LGBTQ+ people or put pressure on us to come out. Media outlets should take care not to sensationalise LGBTQ+ lives and relationships.”
Since Jessica said she had her own sexuality outed, she has since 'reclaimed it' and opted to tell her grandparents and wider friendship group about who she loves.
“I took the initiative to do that because I wanted to reclaim it for myself and I’ve since spoken to a few other family members,” she said.
“I already knew that they were very open-minded, that the judgement was not going to be there,” she said of her family’s reaction.
However, some of her female friends’ reactions were unexpected when she came out to them.
She said: “I have very clear boundaries and if I’m in a platonic friendship then I’m not gonna cross that boundary. So that was a weird thing to navigate but most of my friends [realised that] it didn’t change who I am to them.”
Although the way she was outed was not her choice, 'in a way it kind of pushed me to be more comfortable within myself, but in a really c***py way,' she added.
She went on: “I’m definitely a lot more open, I do have a daughter as well and after having her I almost closed off that side of myself.
“But now I’ve realised it doesn’t matter; if I find somebody attractive and we have a connection, it’s no different."
Although her daughter is still a toddler, Jessica believes having age-appropriate, open talks with her about the LGBTQ+ community has been the most rewarding part of coming out.
She said: “I actually have these conversations with my daughter, she’s three but she’s very smart, and I’ve always been in very heterosexual relationships so I kind of dove into [inclusivity] a little bit to bring her to that awareness.
“She’s only three so it’s a good time to start letting her understand these things because when we go out somewhere, I don’t want it to be something foreign to her or for it to be confusing.
“I want her to understand the spectrum of the LGBTQ community. So I think she’s been the most rewarding person to be open with, my daughter. Everyone else aside, as long as I’m genuine with her, that makes me feel the best.”
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected].