Last night’s Big Brother was one of the best this series, for more reasons than just Isaac being evicted. Big Brother superfan Cameron Cole came out as gay during a conversation with Lewis Flanagan. It’s such a huge and happy moment for Cameron but, surprise, surprise, I have a few thoughts on how it was handled by his co-stars – and by Channel 5.
First things first – whether or not it was “obvious” that Cameron was gay, or that you guessed his “secret” is irrelevant. It’s a huge deal for him that he chose to come out at all, let alone the fact that he came out to someone he’s only known for a few weeks and it was broadcast on national television. Coming out is such a personal thing that unless you’ve done it, you really don’t understand the gravity of it.
Cameron has found a number of situations difficult and uncomfortable during his time in the Big Brother house. When the housemates would talk about who they fancied, Cameron would avoid answering and, thankfully, his co-stars generally respected this. What I thought was really good about Cameron’s whole situation is that the other housemates never once labelled him. They knew he was finding something difficult as he’d told a few of his closer friends. And while they may or may not have been assuming what he was hiding, they never openly said it.
This week things became more of a struggle when Cian admitted he had feelings for Cameron. I’m not sure if he genuinely does, as I’m sure he said the same about Lewis F earlier in the series. Either way, it did almost force Cameron out. He was so uncomfortable with what people might be saying about him – which they weren’t, bless him – that he almost went into panic mode.
Lewis F seems to have some sort of anger issues – but he’s been an incredible big brother figure to Cameron. The bond they have is lovely and I think Lewis was the best person to have the conversation with Cameron. I also think he was right to speak to Cian about the situation. I’m sure Cian didn’t think he would make Cameron feel uncomfortable by confessing his feelings, but he did. He needed to know and the only person – other than Cameron – that could tell him was Lewis. Lewis has become Cameron’s confidant now Tomasz has defected to who he assumed to be the popular crowd. I think Cian took the message well too – until he went back to his group and started spouting off how bad he now felt. You’re missing the point Cian, this moment isn’t about you.
Last night Cameron decided to open up to Lewis and come out. His inability to say the words “I’m gay” is completely understandable. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. However, once you say it, it’s likely you wouldn’t want to take it back. You could see as soon as he said “Yes” to Lewis’ “Are you gay?”, an almost physical weight was lifted off of him. The smile on his face, followed by his shyness was me a few years ago. Lewis had the best reaction – I think Cameron knew he would. I felt myself getting emotional when I watched it (and again when I thought about it to write this).
I hope Lewis understands how privileged he is to have had that conversation with Cameron. It’s such a difficult situation. Cameron can’t see his family’s reaction while he’s in the house. While the initial getting it out there will make him feel lighter, the not knowing will also hold him back. With that in mind, I’m not sure coming out in the Big Brother house was the best idea. On the other hand, it’s a similar situation to writing a letter. He’s got his news out and now just has to wait for the response. Doing it on television is one way to make sure all the closest people in your life know at the same time, too. It saves more conversations, which can be horribly awkward.
I do want to finish on a positive – and I will, because this was such a great moment for Cameron – but there’s one thing that bothered me more than anything.
When host Emma Willis teased what would be happening in the next part of the show, she casually mentioned how one housemate would be “coming out”. I get not wanting to make it a big deal, because why should sexuality be a big deal in 2018? But it is a big deal for the person doing it. Emma made it a spectacle, something for viewers to get excited about. What would the reaction be like? How would Cameron do it? What will happen afterwards? I’m sure Emma had no say in what she actually said, as she’d have been reading from a teleprompter, but I think producers could have handled the situation differently. Even just referring to it as someone having news would have been better, because it prompted people to speculate about somebody’s sexuality before they’d said anything themselves.
She made up for it afterwards by being so happy and excited for Cameron, and that’s exactly how I felt. I tweeted last night that I can’t wait for him to be able to really enjoy his life now. He’s only 18 – younger than I was when I came out – and can now truly feel free without having to worry about slipping up or letting the mask fall.