So yesterday one of the most famous journalists in America, if not the world, made it official. The Silver Fox is gay. Anderson Cooper’s coming out was hardly a surprise to most people. The Coop hasn’t necessarily hidden his sexuality, even if he has never spoken about it before yesterday. But in an eloquent and thoughtful coming out letter, Anderson said what he hasn’t said publicly before.
“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.”
Coop’s gayness has been a very open secret for years. Still however you feel about celebrities’ right to privacy/responsibility to be open, it’s always great when a public figure comes out. It’s one more face to put to those three letters that scare so many so much. Yes, Anderson is a g-a-y. No, it doesn’t make him any less of a good journalist and/or human being.
In Anderson’s coming out, he discussed the reasons he chose to not discuss his sexual orientation publically before. Most of them have to do with his profession, which I can understand. But journalism is also, at its very core, about telling the truth. So in the end, for Anderson, the truth won out. And in doing so so did the rest of us. Because being out and open isn’t, ultimately, about invading anyone’s privacy. It’s about being comfortable and honest about who you are.
I don’t need (or want – well, in most cases) to know what exactly you do in the bedroom. I just want to know who you are as a person. And while being gay does not singularly define someone, it is an essential part of the fabric of what makes us us. It’s like my height, which I’d never hide but is an innate part of me. So when people refuse to disclose their sexuality, it helps (even if unintentionally) perpetuate the stigma that being gay is something to hide. That loving differently is something to keep secret. As Anderson wrote:
“I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something - something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.”
Everyone has the right to come out in his own time and her own way. No one should feel bullied or harassed before he or she is ready. But coming out is still one of the most important and most significant things gay people can do to help change their own lives and by extension the world. Because even if like in Anderson’s case everyone knew already, there is still real power in those words. And in pointing out a simple difference it also reminds people how similar we really are. And in this, Anderson Cooper put it exactly right.
“I love, and I am loved.”
Just as we all should be. Thank you, Anderson. And, thank you for that glorious gay giggle of yours.
p.s. Yes, I know about Megan Rapinoe’s news, too. Don’t worry. She’ll getting her day. And soon.