Following his hiatus from the spotlight, rumors recently began circulating about Richard Simmons and his personal life. Although he deserves the freedom and privacy to take a break for whatever reason he needs, people began speculating that the fitness guru was transgender and that this was the reason he was out of the spotlight. His rep previously denied the claims to People, but now, Simmons has spoken out about the rumors himself and turned the situation into a powerful teaching moment. On his Facebook page on Tuesday, the 67-year-old wrote,
Some tabloids have recently falsely reported that I am transitioning. In response, I feel compelled to set the record straight and refute these lies. Although I am not transitioning, I have and always will be supportive of those who are going through their journey. We should not lose focus on showing love, strength and compassion to all of the LGBT community during these tragic times. My broken heart and healing thoughts are with the people of Orlando and all other victims of prejudice, bigotry and hate.
First off, I applaud Simmons for responding to the rumors in such a meaningful way. It's disappointing, however, that he even has to speak out about such a personal matter in the first place. Although the rumors are not true, if they were, how unfair would it be for him to be outed? It is a major decision for trans individuals to open up about their journeys, and it's invasive for others to leak that information before they're ready to share it themselves. It's undeniably disrespectful. Still, Simmons is able to successfully spin the situation and focus on what really matters instead.
In the post, Simmons expresses his support for the LGBT community, following Sunday's mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. The incident left 49 dead and 53 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. As if that's not devastating enough, the fact that the LGBT community was targeted makes it all the more heartbreaking. It's great to see Simmons use his platform to speak out and emphasize that "we should not lose focus on showing love, strength and compassion to all of the LGBT community during these tragic times." He's able to flip the script on rumors about himself and instead highlight an actual issue worth discussing.
If you're interested in following in Simmons' footsteps and supporting the Orlando victims, as well as the LGBT community as a whole, there are several ways to do so. Whether donating to the victims' fund or donating blood, especially on behalf of those who can't.