Howard Bragman, the gay publicist behind Chely Wright and Meredith Baxter’s comings out, is reportedly developing a reality show with A&E that’ll have celebrities coming out. I love this idea! Too bad it’s Howard’s.
When people of any degree of celebrity come out, it makes news. Sure, hearing about Ricky (duh) or Chely (who?) might not change your life, but it’ll be a brand spanking new way of offering a positive platform for people to come out, and it’s all about the kids, isn’t it? That a reality show — and let’s not pretend this is going to be some sort of docu-drama — makes the whole process a charade worth filming isn’t too appealing, but done tastefully, I’m confident we could see an 8-episode season where some minor league baseball players, character actors, and foreign pop stars come out on the program. We always say we want more people, preferably of higher profile, to come out and this is one way to do it.
(This blog has also raised the notion of whether it’s kosher for celebs to cash in by coming out, and Bragman’s show again raises the opportunity, since it’s very possible, and perhaps likely these folks will be paid to share their coming out stories.)
But, with the working title Coming Out, the show (Update: For now it’s just a special) is the domain of Howard Bragman. The man has done much good, easing the path for B- and C-listers to acknowledge their sexuality or gender identity publicly. He’s also responsible for some wretched “publicity” endeavors, such as helping Prop 8-supporting hotelier Doug Manchester try convincing the gay and business communities he shouldn’t be hated (and boycotted), which is plainly ridiculous. But that’s Howard’s job: Spin, convince, plant, and manipulate messaging for his clients. And in the end, he takes a handsome paycheck back to his Hollywood Hills home, which is exactly what he’ll do with the fees he collects from a television show.
Putting aside any feelings of animosity toward Bragman (a game that requires Mr. Bragman to do the same, okay buddy?), the show has great potential to take coming out mainstream. That is good. Instead of waiting for a Lance Bass or a Chaz Bono to drop a bomb every few months or years, “average” celebrities and public figures will show queers teens (and adults!) real life stories about how people tell their friends, families, and co-workers about their true selves. Yes, they’ll make it dramatic, and the cameras will cut to dropped jaws, hissy fits, and parents storming out of the room, but in the end a show like this helps at least one more person come out to the world. I can get behind that.
Now just get Anderson Cooper to sign on for the series premiere.