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Facades


The news -- "breaking news" in some quarters -- that pop singer Barry Manilow is gay got me thinking about the whole notion of a public image. We all have one, from the mega-famous to the demure wallflowers. We all present what we want to the world, and hide the rest. There are those who decry such measures, preferring, I suppose, to lay bare their souls for all and sundry. There's something to be said for raw honesty, though perhaps in small doses.

Something to consider is the different spheres within which we operate. No doubt Barry Manilow has been out to friends and, perhaps, family for a long time. The recent revelation is most likely a public one. There's no dishonesty there, just a lack of information. That is, of course, Manilow's choice. I do find it somewhat sad and slightly odd that he'd been afraid to come out due to anticipated negative reactions from fans. His sexuality has been one of the worst kept secrets around.

When it comes to our public image, the version of ourselves we wish to present to others, probably the first question we should ask ourselves is: Is the presentation beneficial or harmful to us? Are we doing it for the wrong reasons? If Barry Manilow had come out as gay forty years ago, would he have had as successful of a career? If the answer is no, would that be considered a negative or a positive for him, personally? What do we consider important in our lives -- money? relationships? security? freedom? -- and then how do we live our lives based upon those priorities?

The matter of choice, and self-awareness of choice, is of paramount importance in deciding what our public persona should be. For example, does a person decide to mask part of who they are because they've convinced themselves that they're an intensely private person, when in reality it is because they have a deeply-rooted anxiety of others' reactions, and they only think their private nature is by choice? One's choices begin and end with honesty with oneself.

So whether or not we admit it, we are, all of us, multi-faceted creatures with many components that come together to make us who we are. Everything we project is a facade of some sort, in that it is impossible to reveal all of who we are at once. There will always be something we hold back. What that is can often depend on who we are around. There is nothing particularly bad about doing that. In fact, it's a pretty human thing to do.


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