Recently, news anchor Robin Roberts publicly came out of the closet with the statement referring to her “longtime girlfriend, Amber.” The response was overwhelmingly positive. No one knew how such a statement would be received. Thankfully, however, it was a show of support and not of hatred. However, I pose the question: “Why does it matter?” Roberts is a news anchor, a profession where sexuality matters very little (then again sexuality matters very little in most professions).
The media frenzy surrounding Roberts, however, ignores one fact about her: she’s human. The frenzy has made her special for something which isn’t special at all.
Her sexuality is not unique and rare, or there wouldn’t be a gay community to rally behind her. The media has chosen to elevate her for being a gay woman, choosing to ignore that she is only a woman who is gay.
The critical difference between the identifications is that the former sees her only as a sexual orientation and the latter sees her as a human being. Roberts, like all others, is a woman with a heart yearning to love and be loved. She has trials and temptations, like all of us. Our society has taken to finding ways of categorizing each other with titles, such as “gay” or “straight,” “black” or “white,” “Muslim” or “Christian.” These are not the whole, but merely parts. And as we are told, “the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.”
Roberts’ sexuality is of minimal importance for the same reason my sexuality is: it’s only one part of her. There is an infinite amount of information and qualities which we have ignored in order to focus on a single tile of a beautiful mosaic. She may have dreamed at one point of being a professional soccer player and tending goal at the World Cup, but we’ll never know because we’ve stopped the learning process with one small detail about her.
The same things are expected of Roberts, me, and the rest of humanity: we are expected to love God and one another; we are expected to try and work for peace through whatever means available to us; and we are expected to safeguard the gifts we have been given on this planet (most importantly, each other). It is not necessary to know someone’s sexuality, political affiliation, or views on God in order to do this, no more than it is necessary to know how he/she likes his/her steak cooked. It is not necessary because you should be willing to love a person and work beside him/her regardless of these opinions. All people are to be respected as human beings, as brothers and sisters, as creations of God with inherent dignity and worth.
Every single person is to be respected regardless of whether they respect you or even themselves. Mother Theresa said “If we judge people, it gives us less time to love them”.
I agree, but I add that we judge each other because it’s easier than trying to love them. We choose to judge them and look for an excuse not to love them. It is job of all humanity to love the unlovable, for we are all unlovable in some way. We must love our brothers and sisters, regardless of what they’ve done or believe. We must forgive the unforgivable, otherwise we have forgiven nothing.
What someone has done, what they believe, and who they find attractive are only small fragments of a person. There is so much more to understand about them, if only we chose to get closer to them. The best way to get close to someone is love them, not judge them. Judgment looks at one aspect, while love looks at the whole picture. In calling the spotlight to Roberts’ sexuality, we have judged her, whether we know it or not, because we have reduced her to a singular facet of his personality. We have done her a disservice.
I commend Roberts for her honesty, but I condemn the media for making her a news story. She’s not; she’s far too complex. We are all too complex to ever be just a news story. We are meant to love and to be loved. And you can’t love a story, nor can it love you in return; you can only do that with a human being.