During the week of July 5th, Anderson Cooper came out. Officially, that is. Most of us already had a vague notion that the newscaster, 46, might not be the straightest pencil in the box but Anderson officially outed himself in a email to writer friend Andrew Sullivan.
Cooper was quoted as saying 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.
He followed that statement with one that sought to explain his reasons for coming out: …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.
The cynical have said that Cooper is playing for ratings or that this is some kind of a cheap ploy to jump on a political bandwagon. To the critics, I say respectfully, oh no, no, no. This matters.
Cooper has long been an eloquent voice of change, intelligence and humanity. Here’s a video highlighting the best of Cooper’s career and all of it is profoundly moving, especially the 2010 images of Cooper tending to a young Haitian boy as blood from the boy’s wounds covers Cooper’s hands. The boy, dazed and in shock, keeps wiping blood from his face as Cooper bodily picks him up, handing him over to safety.
Does It Matter?
It matters, America. It matters that Anderson Cooper is gay – because now all of the people who are on the opposite side of the fence in regards to LGBT rights can look at him and see a heroic, courageous journalist – who happens to be gay. The kids who are scared to come out now have one more role model and America has one more visible out famous person.
Sometimes it seems to me that for every step forward (DOMA being ruled unconstitutional last month; JC Penney’s very open support of the LGBT community), we take a step back (the North Carolina pastor who believes that gay concentration camps will fix everything; an Ohio citizen’s irate – and hopefully joking – letter to the editor asking for the demotion of the “Bisexual” Buckeye as state tree).
But sometimes it seems the exact opposite – that we’re moving in the direction of social change. Anderson Cooper’s coming out matters because society is very slowly starting to think that it doesn’t.