Oh my. Jesus help us! What shock and surprise! Anderson Cooper, a homosexual? What is this world coming to?
Anderson Cooper in an email to Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast said, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
But honestly, when is the last time you have been surprised by a public figure coming out? And when is the last time you saw a major public backlash? These days, I tend to feel like the mother of a gay child when a celeb comes out - "Oh honey, I've always known."
In his email to Sullivan, Cooper explains his reasoning for waiting until now:
Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people's stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.
I hadn't really thought about that - the idea of putting lives in danger, but it makes sense. While most of the time I have the opinion that everyone, especially public figures, should come out, and excuses based on fears of career ending public rejection are bullshit. But the idea that by revealing your sexual orientation you face deadly violence when working in war zones not known for being gay friendly (though violence against LGBT individuals is still a sad truth in the US) you are endangering not just yourself but those around you, I feel that is a legit excuse.
What I do not agree with is that by coming out, you somehow loose your journalistic integrity.
I've always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn't matter. I've stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I've been directly asked "the gay question," which happens occasionally.
Ugh. And all the straight reporters pretend to be celibate? Being gay makes your reports less valid? What about race and gender? Those are politically charged issues as well. Should everyone paint themselves blue and wear an androgynous uniform to hide everything about their lives that could possibly impact their journalistic non-biased reporting? Seriously folks. Where do you draw the line?
Like most public figures that recently came out, Cooper uses the fight against bullying of young gays as his reasoning. Noble, but sad that this is what it takes.
I've also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.
Welcome out Anderson. Thank you for finally taking this brave step forward. I can complain about your timing and reasoning, but it is good to have you as one of us. Hopefully your example will encourage other LGBT folks, famous or not, to take the same step forward with a little less fear than before.