CNN news reporter Anderson Cooper has come out of the closet firmly but relatively quietly in an email to a colleague.
The question of Cooper’s sexuality has been hammered out in the press for years, but only now, as he was reached for comment about coming out by The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, did Cooper admit, “I’m gay”.
In his email, Cooper states: “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.”
Sullivan’s request for Cooper’s comments follow an Entertainment Weekly story where coming out was discussed. Gone are the days where coming out meant the cover of Time Magazine (as was the case with Ellen DeGeneres) – these days, TV stars such as The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons come out as footnotes in larger articles, X-Files‘ Gillian Anderson can mention her high school girlfriend in passing, and cable news hosts such as Rachel Maddow can make their sexuality clear to their audience every day.
Sullivan says, “In many ways, it’s a great development: we’re evolved enough not to be gob-smacked when we find out someone’s gay. But it does matter nonetheless, it seems to me, that this is on the record. We still have pastors calling for the death of gay people, bullying incidents and suicides among gay kids, and one major political party dedicated to ending the basic civil right to marry the person you love. So these “non-events” are still also events of a kind; and they matter. The visibility of gay people is one of the core means for our equality.
“I’ve known Anderson Cooper as a friend for more than two decades. I asked him for his feedback on this subject, for reasons that are probably obvious to most.”
Cooper saw his coming out as something irrelevant – something that shouldn’t stop him from performing his duties as a journalist. In his coming out email, however, he made mention of the fact that not coming out can be misconstrued as being ashamed of oneself.
“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.”
He thanked Sullivan for the opportunity to speak to the matter of coming out, stating, “I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.”