Anderson Cooper’s coming out changes lives

Charles Sykes AP Anderson Cooper leads a discussion about “Long Story Short”, the one-man theatrical show moving to Broadway starring … Continued

Charles Sykes


Anderson Cooper leads a discussion about “Long Story Short”, the one-man theatrical show moving to Broadway starring Colin Quinn and directed by Jerry Seinfeld, in New York, Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

At first glance, CNN host Anderson Cooper’s revelation that he’s gay, appears to be “non-news.” But perhaps this lack of controversy means the United States finally reached a milestone—the general populace no longer cares about a public figure’s sexual orientation. (Unless of course, that person functions like the hypocritical closeted politicians and preachers Kirby Dick exposed in his documentary “Outrage” who publicly champion anti-gay measures while leading a secret life as a gay person.)

The real newsworthiness of this story though lies in the reason why Cooper brought his private life into the public arena.

“It became 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,” he said.

In making this decision, Cooper noted that his visibility takes precedence over preserving his reporter’s shield of privacy.

This year, Cooper’s show Anderson Cooper 360 received the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD ) Media Award for Outstanding TV Journalism. On their blog GLAAD President Herndon Graddick reflected on Cooper’s history of LGBT advocacy: “Even prior to coming out publicly, [his] terrific work has raised awareness of inequalities facing LGBT people. I’m proud to call him my friend. He’s a role model to millions and now will inspire countless others.”

Joseph Ward, director, Believe Out Loud, an organization dedicated to promoting inclusion of LGBT people in Christian churches and communities, concurs.

The visibility of gay and transgender people is a big part of the foundation for LGBT equality. Yesterday he made headlines for coming out, and today he goes back to being the same Anderson Cooper reporting the news. But for some young LGBT person in our country who is dealing with a hostile school environment, church community, or unwelcoming parents and family, Cooper is a powerful image that you should be loved and valued as a human being, and that image is important.

Despite the positive image that Cooper presents coupled with heightened visibility of other LGBT folks such as the pro-gay organizations from fundamentalist colleges like Bob Jones University who marched in this year’s pride parades, religious right groups refuse to fly the white flag. In their battle to return America to their version of the traditional family, they seem to be relying these days on disputed evidence to justify their views. For example, researchers and analysts discounted the methodological flaws present in University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus’ study that was designed to prove that same sex couples produce at risk children. However, his study was praised by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the leading organizations fighting against marriage equality legislation and a key group connected to funding this research.

As John Becker, director of Communications for Truth Wins Out notes, Cooper’s proclamation once again disproves the claims made against “homosexuals” by groups like NOM.

LGBT people―beautiful, happy, healthy, successful individuals―come out, it obliterates one of the most malicious lies made by the anti-gay movement: that lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people are broken, unhappya, and empty simply because of who they are and who they love. By coming out of his glass closet, Anderson Cooper isn’t just liberating himself―he’s helping to make his entire community more visible and bring us all one step closer to full equality.

While lesbians and gays continue their quest toward equality, the same cannot be said for the vast majority of those who constitute the “T” component of the LGBT equation.

In my coverage over at The Reveler of the 2012 Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, I observed how the growing body of anti-discrimination laws focusing on sexual orientation afford many gay and lesbian individuals the opportunity to live their lives authentically. The same cannot be said for transgender individuals. Few laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity protect this community and allow them to express who they are in public.

I look forward to the day when we can celebrate instead of discredit that uniqueness that each of us brings to the global community. May we someday find ourselves living in a world where we are viewed first and foremost simply as oh, I don’t know …. How about fellow human beings?

Becky Garrison is a religion writer and author whose books include “Jesus Died for This?” and “Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church.”

Becky Garrison
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  • nawlinsron

    “Changes lives”????…except for his hairdresser, who?

  • TigreNoir

    Is it against the law to be gay? If not, let’s get on with the news. If so, let’s stamp all press cards with G or H, prosecute the G’s and get on with the news. Anderson’s perversion is not news I can use.

  • kovu42

    Neither is bigotry, but that shows up plenty in the news, especially the comment sections of online news papers. (perversion? really?)

  • Bob_Amsel

    The real perversions stem from closeted cases like the person making the original hate-filled comment.

  • Maerzie

    Who DIDN’T know that Anderson Cooper was gay??

  • HookedOnThePost

    He’s gay because he hasn’t met me yet.

  • imaginemore

    This is not news! This info has been out for years. lol!

  • craigslsst

    Even more interesting, to me, spouse & offspring, I am heterosexual. So there, I’ve come out. No, I am not part of the normal sexuality movement. Too busy having normal sex.

  • DjangoSteinheart

    Will this actually change lives. Other than my wife, whose crush on AC nevertheless continues, and perhaps the author, everyone has long since figured out which team Anderson plays for.

  • j. Allison

    I really admire is mother.

  • jkerse2

    Im into beastiality. Cookie?

  • kovu42

    No, beastiality is illegal and does not involve two consenting adults. Not the same thing and it’s sad when people can’t tell the difference.

  • djbenzo

    I love women and I’m a man.

  • kovu42

    That should just be a big blog or facebook page, everyone can “come out” (straight and gay) and then it won’t be news anymore! As long as we’re running with it, I love men and I’m a man.

  • buzzbuzzard

    Why do people think that it’s funny or clever to proclaim being straight? That’s pretty much assumed in most cultures and areas. Just shut up if you don’t understand that a lot of people are gay, and it’s a different topic.

  • bethindc1

    Why is a famous person coming out a big story anymore? A. I think we can all agree no one is all that surprised he’s gay and B. Why does it matter?

    Can’t we all just get along?! Live and let live. The only real story here is until now he felt like he couldn’t publicly say what he is and that’s just sad.

  • DavidGaithersburg

    Does this mean that I can no longer call him a biased sad excuse of a journalist?

  • jay2drummer

    “The only real story here is until now he felt like he couldn’t publicly say what he is and that’s just sad.” THAT is the whole point. THAT is why this is a big deal. Because he is now showing he does feel like he can say it comfortably, and it is a sign that maybe other, less famous gays, can feel safe coming out as well.

  • heinpe

    Mr. Cooper is a first-rate JOURNALIST — as contrasted with the rest of the “entertainers” on CNN.

    His orientation doesn’t matter, so long as it doesn’t skew his first job, which is reportage.

  • JayJonson

    Did you read the article? Becky Garrison explains exactly what Anderson Cooper’s coming out it important. It saves lives.

  • JayJonson

    It also sounds like you’re a bigot, but perhaps you’re too busy having “normal” sex to do much about your bigotry. (On the other hand, you are probably as kinky as they come despite your heterosexuality.)

  • JayJonson

    What a bigot you are.

  • Bruce

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

  • FreddyD2

    I applaud Mr. Copper’s decision to come out. Now everyone can examine his reporting as being biased towards Obama, as it always has been.

    At least he is honest above it long before the election, Unlike that Vaughn Walker fellow.