Last night on “Biggest Loser” some of the contestants were able to spend a pre-Thanksgiving celebration with family members. After one of the contestants, Chicago attorney Bobby Saleem, visited with his parents (who both were so overjoyed to see how much weight he has lost), he sat down for a heart-to-heart with Bob Harper about some of the emotional issues he feels caused him to turn to food in a big way.
The 28-year-old Bobby told Harper that keeping the fact that he is gay from his parents has been so hard. And he was struggling to find the words to come out to them, particularly his dad, whose reaction he fears.
Harper, who has starred on “Biggest Loser” since Season One, decided that while he never discussed his sexuality on the show before, now was the time. So he shared with Bobby on-camera the fact that he is gay.
Harper told Bobby he came out at age 17. In Tennessee, 31 years ago. You know, the heart of the Bible Belt. That could not have been easy. Harper acknowledged the challenge.
“I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak,” Harper said during his talk with Bobby. “And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”
Amen. Different is just different. Not better, not worse, just different.
I think the national climate, where 16 states have now legalized gay marriage (yeah, Illinois!) has made many gay people more comfortable to be who they are out in the open, just like any heterosexual. And, with all the news in the past few years about gay teens being bullied or hurting (and killing) themselves because of their orientation, prominent gays know now is the time to be a vocal role model to a younger generation, to help them accept who they are.
Bob Harper knows he is someone people look up to, listen to, and last night he used the national (make that international) platform he has to help Bobby and all the other Bobbys out there see they can be gay and not feel like they are less than anyone else. What a guy.