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Private lives or public identity? - KOAM TV 7

Private lives or public identity?

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Private lives or public identity?  Recent announcements from a movie star and football player that they are gay have sparked a debate over revealing sexual preference.
Many are asking why.  Why is there so much media attention, why should it matter?
One week it was University of Missouri All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam and the next, Hollywood actress Ellen Page, headlines that are sparking up some debate here in the Four States.
"Why is this such a big deal for people to say hey, I'm gay," said Joplin resident Kelly Musick.
Some people believe that it does not matter.
"I just think a lot of these people coming out and speaking of their homosexuality, that's kind of a private issue," said Joplin resident Chuck Parker.
 "We have so many more issues that are, to me, more important-- jobs, people going hungry, wars," Musick said.  "Why is it any of our business to know anyone else's sexual preference"?
"I think the media likes to get a stir out of people and it's the hot thing right now," said Joplin resident David Biggers.
Others believe it is important to showcase these celebrities because it does have an impact.
"I personally was very moved," said Joplin resident Bryce Slaughter.  "Part of it because I'm a Mizzou alum myself, but another part because it's showing that it doesn't matter, we can break our stereotype of what it is to be a gay man."
Slaughter also says it helps people who might fear rejection.
"I lived for about 21 years of my life in fear that people would reject me," he said.  "I think when they come out and you see all the positive sides that come with it, you kind of realize that while some people might not like it, you're still going to have all that support."
"I feel like it's important for people to be able to relate to them," said Carrie Coffey, Board Chairman for Joplin Pride Organization.  "It helps somebody who may be sitting at home watching."
As for future celebrity news, the subject is not expected to disappear from headlines anytime soon.
"It's a very hot button topic for everybody," Musick said.
If you would like to join the discussion, the question is available for comment on our Facebook page.
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