One of the most open secrets is no longer a secret. Anderson Cooper is gay. Wow! Who saw that coming? I like Anderson Cooper. I think he’s an amazingly brave man, reporting from the front lines of war rather than rest on his family fame. He’s always been insightful, funny, sarcastic, professional, and unbiased in his reporting. He has earned the respect of his colleagues and viewers all over the world.
So now he’s openly gay. I have to wonder does it really matter?
Only time will tell if it really matters to his professional career, although I will say that many other public figures have come out with few ill effects. Many have come out and lost everything. Some have come out, lost everything, and rebuilt it all. In Anderson’s case, I would venture to say that it won’t impact his career one way or the other because he has always been extremely professional and will continue to do so.
So does it really matter that another celebrity comes out? I say “Yes, it does matter.” In today’s society, there are millions of children who live in confusion and fear about themselves. They struggle on a day to day basis with making the decisions about who they are. Some kids never get beyond the struggle and live lives of silent desperation and personal dishonesty. An alarming number of kids kill themselves or are killed as they try to work through the confusion.
In our country, in our society, we tend to venerate the wrong things. Athletes are paid millions of dollars and skate through their education. Movie “stars” are treated like royalty and given a “pass” for their bad behavior. At the same time teachers, nurses, police, fire dept., soldiers, all those people who guide, and shape, and protect our lives are forced to live on salaries that many times are sub-standard. Those who enjoy “celebrity” status are very often the people who continue the create the confusion that reigns in our children’s heads.
So when someone who is a celebrity comes out, it matters. It shows everyone, young and old alike, that it’s okay to be gay. You have the opportunity to acheive whatever you want and be gay. You can live true to yourself and be succesful and happy. It doesn’t have to hurt all the time.
A friend of mine once said that he admired a certain congressman who was outed due to a scandal and who lost “everything” but remained true to himself instead of trying to hide his sexuality. My friend said that took a lot of courage. I was gobsmacked and said, “I admire you, and people like you. You came out early, at a time of your own decision, and faced the consequences squarely. He didn’t ‘come out’ at all. He would still be hiding if events had been different. That’s not courage. What you did, and others like you, that’s courage. That’s what is admirable.”
If I’d had role models like Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Gareth Thomas, or any of the nameless “ordinary” people who live their lives successfully, maybe I would have come out before I reach the age of 50. (Actually, I was 47, but who’s counting?) If enough people had shown tolerance, or had acceptance, I wouldn’t have hated myself so much. I’m not laying blame at anyone, because the decision was mine and only mine. But with more high visibility people coming out, that decision would have been less traumatizing and would have been sooner.
So, yes, I beleive it matters that Anderson Cooper came out. I believe it matters when anyone comes out. It matters because it shows all the closeted people that they aren’t alone; that it’s okay; that being gay is normal and they can live full, rich, and happy lives.