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Noah Schnapp's Coming Out Video Is Refreshingly Casual & People Who Came Out Before Him Are Grateful

Photo: @noahschnapp/TikTok
Screenshots from Noah Schnapp's coming out TikTok

Once upon a time, coming out as gay was earth-shattering news for Hollywood stars—the type that might even end their careers. And it wasn't even that long ago.

After all, we're only 25 years removed from when Ellen DeGeneres coming out as a lesbian torched her sitcom and made her persona non grata in Hollywood for half a decade.

My, how times have changed. 

When Noah Schnapp, who stars as Will Byers on Netflix's "Stranger Things," came out as gay this week, he did so in the most blasé, Gen-Z way possible.

He did it with a short, jokey TikTok where his big announcement played second fiddle to the funny sound clip he lip-synced to.

The casual, off-handed way Schnapp made his announcement has been surprising to many queer people.

Given how recently such a revelation would have been made in press conferences and dramatic interviews, Schnapp's casual coming underlines just how much we've progressed when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance.

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Noah Schnapp's coming-out TikTok is refreshingly underplayed.

Schnapp posted his simple video yesterday afternoon, and it has already racked up nearly 52 million views.

   

   

The video shows Schnapp casually lounging beneath onscreen text that reads, "When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years and all they said was 'we know.'"

He captioned the video with a reference to his "Stranger Things" character, writing, "I guess I’m more similar to will than I thought."

Byers' coming out journey was an major plot point in the show's most recent season, and Schnapp's devastating depiction of a closeted teenager has now taken on new meaning for many viewers.

But for others, the real story of Schnapp's coming out was the sound clip he used in his video, and not just for the comedic touch it gives his TikTok.

The sound clip, from TikTok creator @princessazula0, underlines the "no big deal" vibe of Schnapp's announcement perfectly: "You know what it never was? That serious."

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But coming out as LGBTQ did used to be "that serious"—to say the least—for Hollywood stars.

The Golden Age of Hollywood is full of stars for whom a queer identity was an open secret, from Greta Garbo to Cary Grant.

But for decades, Hollywood stars couldn't come out at all—unless they were comfortable never working again, of course. 

Even stars as flamboyant as pianist Liberace pretended to be straight, only being officially outed after their deaths.

   

   

Others, like Rock Hudson, were forced to come out only after they were diagnosed with AIDS, which was known almost exclusively as a gay men's disease for more than a decade.

And gay rumors were still something of a kiss of death for stars well into the 1990s—so much so that when stars like Madonna refused to be ashamed of such rumors it became a controversy unto itself.

Even in the comparatively more accepting 2000s and 2010s, stars like Ricky Martin, Raven-Symone and Kristen Stewart made front-page news when they finally announced their queer identity.

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Noah Schnapp's casual coming out signifies a major shift in LGBTQ acceptance, even in a time of rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

People online couldn't help but notice how different Schnapp's coming out feels.

Writer Jenelle Riley tweeted that Schnapp's casual announcement is "as it should be."

Further underlining how different things used to be, Riley went on to say, "I wish I had been this comfortable...at that age. Or my current age, really."

She was far from alone. Another Twitter user wrote, "i think there’s something so incredible about the way noah schnapp came out... i think it’s really lovely that we’ve progressed far enough for it to be normalized."

Another person tweeted, "noah schnapp coming out on tiktok using an unserious audio with a funny unironic caption is such a gen z thing to do i love him DEARLY."

Of course, there's still a long way to go—the last several years have seen a tidal wave of hate crimes and legislative attacks against LGBTQ people, especially the trans community.

Even Schnapp himself said in his TikTok he spent 18 years—his entire life so far—"scared" to own his queer identity.

Still, his announcement shows times are still changing, that despite attempts to dehumanize us, queer people are increasingly seen as just that—people—rather than gasp-inducing anomalies.

For those of us who came up during far more homophobic times, it's a pleasant and hopeful surprise.

Maybe coming out truly is becoming "not that serious." And that is indeed exactly as it should be.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.

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