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Nick Grimshaw and Other Impeccably Timed Coming Out Stories

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Let me preface this by saying, I like Nick Grimshaw. And I, like millions of others, have been enjoying his refreshing tone and easy wit since he took over from Chris 'this ringtone's gay' Moyles as host of the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show a few months back. But there's something about his coming out story I'm not buying - and I can't help but feel his inclusion in the Top 10 of the recently announced IoS Pink List 2012 is a little premature. I'm saying this as a fan and a fellow gay man - not just as someone with an overbearing opinion.

After years of thinly-veiled ambiguity, Nick finally spoke out about his homosexuality via a few throwaway comments in an interview with the Guardian earlier this year. He was widely celebrated for the way he went about it, for the lack of bells and whistles: put simply, for being so cool about it. This was in August - assumably long after his Radio 1 promotion was signed and sealed, and years since his debut as a foppish TV presenter on T4. Fast forward a few months and the state of play is very different. Perhaps more bullish upon the public's acceptance of his sexuality, he's undergone a complete transformation: he's making Grindr jokes, gracing the cover of Attitude, and, a few weeks back, at the gay magazine's inaugural awards ceremony, accepted its Editor's Special award.

Being honest about who you are is never easy, and to be clear, I'd obviously rather Nick was out than in. And while I do respect a public figure's right to overcome the often difficult obstacle of addressing their sexuality as, how and when they wish without having to justify it - hence why I'd never use this space to out anybody - I also believe blind loyalty to this ideology is naive. I'm especially unsympathetic and distrusting of celebrities, for whom PR stunts (even of the sophisticated and understated variety) are like oxygen. Doubtless, some announce and subsequently frame their sexualities in ways most beneficial to their careers and image.

Far be it from me to make any attempt to detract from what is already a very small pool of recently-out, visible queer people for young LGBT kids to look up to - but some are due scrutiny, and there's no easy way to say that.

There's Jessie J and her rarely mentioned non-heterosexuality (and rumoured homosexuality). There's also Mika, and his so-say sexual inscrutability, which used to REALLY push my buttons - interesting then, that upon the release of his third album this year, he chose to confirm he's gay (by which point, most people had ceased to care). And don't get me started on Rihanna and her ostensibly lipstick bisexuality, which she chooses to express by tweeting photographs of herself getting lap dances from women - resulting in worldwide coverage. To play devil's advocate, even modern queer icons like Frank Ocean and especially Gareth Thomas came out at questionable moments in their careers. 

Brave, talented and immensely powerful individuals they may be, and I'm not overlooking the tireless work of some of them to highlight LGBT issues. But I'm convinced they're not all as genuine as they seem. The difficulty is weeding out the real from the fake.

My sneaking suspicion about Nick could of course be wrong. He's quite clearly a nice guy. And I'm not accusing him of anything unforgivable per se - after all, I find Will Young a brave, admirable and relatable gay man, despite the 16-year-old in me's continued resentment at his coming out on the cover of a Sunday tabloid days after his 2002 Pop Idol win.

I'm just saying Nick's story seems a little contrived. And given the sheer size of the wave of popularity he's riding (he has the endorsement of Harry Styles and just about every other imaginable celebrity after all) he's not being called up on it. And that makes me angry. As he makes his ascent to gay role model status, voluntarily or not, I ask myself: why did he wait so long to embrace his homosexuality publicly? "Because I could," or, "because nobody asked," are not good enough answers for me.

www.jamietabberer.com

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Nick Grimshaw - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

nick grimshaw (grimmers) on Twitter

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