Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

2 responses to “ProJo Should Stop Using ‘Openly’ Gay”

  1. Susanh

    I see your point but, as a former newspaper reporter, I’ve had a different take on the term “openly gay.” To me it’s an acknowledgement that there are many not-so-openly gay people in every aspect of life – and this person being interviewed is not the only one.
    If you really want to argue for full equality, you would have to either stop referring to anyone’s sexual orientation in these stories or start pointing out that all the other people interviewed in the story are heterosexual. This happens all the time – in stories about racism, they only refer to the color of the people of color, etc. Ultimately, it’s about changing a majority view that whatever the majority is – white, Christian, heterosexual, etc. – is the norm and everything else is an offshoot which must be pointed out.
    This is way more complex than changing the term used in the newspaper but I’d like to think the reporter is actually trying to be somewhat inclusive by using that term. Naive, maybe, but what the heck – I’m in a good mood – we passed marriage equality in the House!

  2. MeredythW

    Generally, I agree with you about the use of “openly,” but with an exception: I’ve actually used “openly gay” in some of our press releases about this issue. We say that Speaker Fox is the first openly gay person to hold the top leadership position in either chamber in Rhode Island. We don’t really know that no one else in one of those positions over the course of history was gay. Actually, just based on the percentage of the population that is gay, I’d bet you some were. We just know that no one else spoke publicly about it. So for the sake of accuracy and honesty, openly gay makes sense in that case.

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