When celebrities share secrets, good things happen

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That’s Jarron on the left, Jason on the right and Oprah Winfrey in the middle. You can’t blame anyone for mistaking Jarron Collins for his twin brother, Jason. And that never used to mean much. They both went to Stanford, both played in the NBA, both developed reputations as bruising big men. They were identically nondescript NBA players.(Chuck Hodes, AP/OWN)

 

by Laura Wexler

(CNN) — Coming out of the closets of our culture seems to be the thing to do these days, but it is not a new phenomenon.

In the inaugural issue of Ms. magazine in 1972, dozens of American women signed a statement declaring “We Have Had Abortions,” even though abortion was still mostly illegal in the United States. Celebrity names dotted the list—Gloria Steinem, Nora Ephron, Lillian Hellman and Billie Jean King among them.

This consciousness-raising maneuver played a key role in changing public attitudes toward abortion. It contributed to what legal scholars Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel call the “successive waves of arguments” that “prompted growing public support for liberalizing access to abortion.” A year later, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision decriminalized most abortions.

In 1978, former first lady Betty Ford entered the Long Beach Naval Hospital’s Drug and Rehabilitation Service, and publicly admitted her own alcohol and drug dependency. In 1982, she became founding director of the Betty Ford Center for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. While many remained silent, celebrities Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor and Ali MacGraw all chose to openly share their experience at the center.

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