Welcome out, Anderson Cooper!

In a letter that he allowed blogger Andrew Sullivan to publish, CNN reporter Anderson Cooper today came out as gay:

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.

I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.

While this is certainly fantastic news, I’m sure some people are wondering why he didn’t come out sooner, and this is worth exploring. In Cooper’s case, there were specific professional concerns relating to his ability to remain objective in his role as a journalist, as well as staying safe in dangerous parts of the world. And as with anyone else, there could be any number of particular personal matters which I can’t speak to.

Cooper, of course, hadn’t gone to great pains to keep his orientation a secret until now. He was already out to many people who know him, and his sexuality has been a matter of public speculation for some time. So why today? Regardless of personal circumstances, there’s an element that I believe is common to anyone who comes out or has yet to come out, whether they’re gay, lesbian, bi or trans.

Even after we’ve come to understand who were are and become truly comfortable in ourselves, that final leap to public openness can still be foreboding, no matter how much time we’ve had to prepare. As suffocating as this continued secrecy about a central and important part of yourself can be, we still draw some small measure of comfort, empty as it ultimately may be, from avoiding whatever unknowns are lurking beyond that announcement. And giving up that sense of safety can be a difficult step.

We often still find ourselves putting it off, even when we’re not at personal risk and there’s nothing else left to do before we finally come out. We know that we have to do it sooner or later, and that waiting won’t make the event itself any easier. But we still cling to the familiarity of the closet, and back away from the mysteries on the other side.

In that state of limbo, where there’s nothing left to do but say it out loud, it could be just about anything that nudges us over the threshold and into the daylight. It can be as simple as one day deciding, on a whim, “You know what? Screw it, I’m gonna do this.” When I’ve had to come out about something, that’s what it was like. As I eventually tired of the tedium of keeping secrets about myself, I just made the choice to rip the band-aid off and get it done. There are still things I’ve yet to come out about to some of the people closest to me, but once everything’s in order, I know that I’ll end up doing it on the spur of the moment again. Ultimately, when we come out can be as simple as: “Whenever I feel like it.”

Welcome out, Anderson Cooper!
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32 thoughts on “Welcome out, Anderson Cooper!

  1. 1

    I offer Anderson no judgement. There is no easy time.
    I remember the conversation with my mom in the car. She was making a joke about a friend of a friend who either is or was pretending to be lesbian. And so I blurted out “I have a girlfriend”. Suddenly, being a lesbian went from this cute funny thing to being something worthy of complete silence and we don’t talk about. “Ripping off a band-aid” is an apt analogy.

  2. 2

    I had to wait till I was pretty much at the point where I had to come out or literally die before I could come out as trans. So much fear got built up in my head. I saw homelessness, no family, no friends, hate wherever I went being a real scenario for me. It wasn’t a real scenario though.

    It wasn’t perfect. I lost my best friend the one person I most expected to stick by me, but for the most part it went smoothly. I lost very little and I gained more than I could ever adequetly put in words.

    Living in fear for so many years though it becomes ingrained. There is the possibility of extremely negative reactions so I could never say anything to Mr Cooper other than I applaud your bravery at finally making this step.

    Eventually, and I hope soon, those fears will be a memory. I saw so many people at Pride Toronto yesterday that I have hope that soon being GLBT will be nothing but normal. Thats when the fear will be gone.

  3. 3

    Ultimately, when we come out can be as simple as: “Whenever I feel like it.”

    Yes, but there is also the social responsibility to speak out. For him to speak out now, when all the hard work has been done by others to achieve equality, and intolerance to LGBT causes is on the wane, it sounds more like careerism than conviction.

    I’d wager that he could have spoken out five years ago with little harm to his career, and it would have taken less time for gay-equality laws and attitudes to come to pass.

    1. 3.1

      Would it have helped the movement for him to come out 5 years ago? Yes.
      Could it have single-handedly pushed everything drastically forward. Come on, I mean, Anderson Cooper has near-supernatural powers of gorgeousness, but I seriously doubt his silence has made that big of difference.

      1. One of the arguments used for dropping the nuclear bomb on Japan was to end the war quicker, that it would avoid (tens of) thousands of deaths caused by a land invasion. Odds are, they were right: the number of deaths from the two bombs was equal to the potential losses.

        In the same way, if Cooper had outed himself a few years ago, it might have had a minor cost to himself. The time saved for changes to occur is unquantifiable – a day, a month, a year – but it still would have happened quicker.

        And I hope you don’t try to misconstrue the analogy. I’m comparing decisions with cause and effect, not equating one person’s actions to a nuclear weapon. One shouldn’t have to say that, but caveats become necessary nowadays, with many people wanting to infer something was said when it wasn’t.

    2. 3.2

      I don’t belive that its anyones social responsibility to put themselves at physical, social or psychological risk. It’s not easy coming out and there is risks involved. Asking someone to take that role on is not really fair, him being gay did not mean he chose to be a spokeman. His right to privacy and safety is tantamount.

      I never supported outing for this very reason.

      1. If you’re inferring that I said he should be “outed” by others against his will, you’re either misreading or deliberately misconstruing my words.

        I said he could have spoken out five years ago. That infers his “outing” being voluntary, done by himself.

        1. I didnt infer you said that at all, I said its why I didnt support outing EITHER. The same logic has in the past been used for outing.

        2. Well, I’m inferring from your prior statement that Anderson Cooper is made out of some sort of critical mass of fissionable material and on a plane to Japan right now.

    3. 3.3

      No queer person owes any stupid martyrdom to “the movement”.

      We have far more than enough martyrs already.

      If we’re not treating individual queer lives as an end unto themselves, instead only as owed to the greater cause, we’re not really a whole lot better than the righteous holier-than-thous we’re fighting against.

      1. You’re overreaching by equating this to “martyrdom”, pretending it’s something that it’s not.

        An honest comparison would be the freedom riders in the civil rights movement. They didn’t want to be killed and few were, but they knew the risks and took them because what they fought for was worth it.

    4. xyz

      > there is also the social responsibility to speak out.

      No. No there isn’t.

      > now, when all the hard work has been done by others to achieve equality, and intolerance to LGBT causes is on the wane,

      Hahahahah what? What are you talking about? “has been done”, implying it has been achieved?? And “intolerance” (more accurately; hetero-, cis-, etc -normativity & -sexism) is still alive and well so far.

  4. 4

    With me, coming out all came in all kinds of little steps. I came out to “compartments” in my life one-at-a-time. And as the process of negotiating my sexuality and identity didn’t exactly happen in an all-at-once kind of way, I’ve had to go through that whole step-by-step process of letting people in bit by bit over and over again. I’ll probably have to do so all over again now that I’m no longer thinking of myself as “straight”.

    I didn’t come out to my dad about liking boys until about 3 months before I ended up beginning transition (well into my 20s). And then I just had to come out to him about THAT some 9 months later.

    And I still haven’t come out to my little brother. About anything. He’s probably overheard from family gossip by now, though.

    1. 4.1

      I’m pretty sure my family (and possibly my viewers) can’t help but have concluded that my orientation is just a big ball of wibbly-wobbly sexy-wexy stuff.

      As for gender, well, I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

      1. a big ball of wibbly-wobbly sexy-wexy stuff

        Thank you, that really made me laugh 🙂 Love it! and I may poach that description some time too…

        (Don’t blink)

      2. Hey, it’s so unfair to win the thread with a totally awesome comment when you’re the blog owner as well.

        As for gender, well, I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

        I know the feeling!

        I too have finally gotten around to telling my brother and mother in the last month, and have been feeling wonderfully relieved at their reactions to the news – which it has to be said, is not always the case when an LGBT person comes out to their close family members. I’m so glad things seem to be awesome with you and yours.

        Welcome out, Zinnia!

  5. 5

    I could have sworn that he came out publicly a year or two ago. Maybe I mistook a rumor for an official announcement.

    Anyway, good for him.

  6. 6

    …it could be just about anything that nudges us over the threshold and into the daylight.

    This was very much what it was like for me. When I came out to most people, it was after a breakup with a woman. Most were unsurprised.

    Coming out to my parents was an entirely different thing. I was out to my friends for over two years before I even thought of telling my parents. The thing that pushed me over the edge was actually a post that Greta Christina did, he Bisexuality Awareness Day post from last year. I responded saying I was going to come out to them that weekend, got a lot of great support in comments, and was able to do so.

  7. 7

    It makes me mad that some people are criticizing him for coming out now instead of earlier.

    Anderson Cooper’s life is his own. If he wasn’t ready, for whatever reason, to come out, that is his own business. If he had been acting against the LGBT community while closeted and then outed himself so as to find a boyfriend after he had profited from his bad acts, that would be one thing. Or if he’d been avoiding LGBT issues so that no one would start passing whispers about him, one might be justified in a certain level of disappointment. But that is not the case at all; he has been a fierce advocate of LGBT people. Of all the journalists that I’ve seen touch on LGBT issues, he has always been one of the few who was willing to actually fight, not just pander or flit around the issue.

    The fact that Anderson Cooper is gay does not mean that he owes control of his life to the gay community. If it was not best for him to come out until now, that is his call to make. To insist that he needs to work on your timetable is absurd. You can work on your own timetable, and you can fight in your own way.

    1. 7.1

      I’m on the side that it’s up to the individual to come out or not as they will. In Anderson’s case, he speaks Arabic and has been covering war and the middle east for some time now. Being out in those countries carries more risk than not being out.

  8. 8

    We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with useful info to paintings on. You’ve done an impressive activity and our whole group will probably be thankful to you.

  9. 9

    In risk of sounding like an idiot…

    Wasn’t this already common knowledge?

    YALORT, I live essentially as a hermit, and I already knew!

    I assumed everyone knew, but nobody cared…

    And really, why should his sexuality matter?

    Well, to him, and anyone who he may end up in a relationship with…

    1. 11.1

      We’re moving in that direction. Slowly, and at least in the United States we’re dragging a good chunk of the country kicking and screaming to sanity… but we’re making progress.

      Sometimes I wonder how I’d feel about LGBT issues if I was from the south, rather than Connecticut. We aren’t perfect, but New England has been mostly right about this stuff for a while now. Difficult enough being bi in a liberal area. In the south? Would I be able to admit it even to myself? I’m not sure.

      One of these days, coming out as gay/bi/pan/whatever will be about as notable as coming out as straight. I don’t know that I’ll live to see that day, but we’re making progress and I’m confident that day will come(I have been accused of being too optimistic about human nature)

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