Anderson Cooper Is Gay, Almost Nobody Cares, And That’s A Good Thing

We've reached the point where public figures coming out of the closet is barely news anymore, and that's a good thing.

In an email that Andrew Sullivan republished in full on his website this morning, CNN host Anderson Cooper confirmed something that many people suspected to be true for many years now:

I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.

Recently, however, 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.

I’ve also been reminded recently that 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. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

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.

It’s a rather unremarkable piece of news, to be completely honest. Like I said, rumors about Cooper’s sexuality had been circulating for years now despite the fact that he had never spoken about it publicly, so this isn’t exactly breaking news. Nonetheless, the general impression I’m getting from Twitter and most of the blog posts that I’ve seen about this is mostly be characterized as a collective shrug. We seem to have come to the point in society where someone saying that they are gay isn’t really seen as being any more remarkable than saying that they are left-handed. It’s a fact about them, but not one that they ought to be judged on in one way or the other.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. People like Rock Hudson kept their sexual orientation a secret precisely because it would have ruined their career if it had become public. When Ellen DeGeneres reveal she was a lesbian 15 years ago it became a major story in the media, led to the end of her ABC sit-com, and sent her career into a period of stagnation. For the most part, though, I would argue that we’re now at the point where most Americans greet news like this with a shrug, if not of indifference then at least in recognition of the fact that it’s not really news that they consider important, salacious, or scandalous. And that’s a good thing. In the end, whether Cooper is gay or not is as irrelevant to the quality of his reporting as the question of whether he’s left or right handed, or lactose intolerant. If we are reaching a point where the reaction to news like this is a collective shrug, then I would argue that we’ve made significant progress because in the end, it shouldn’t matter who Cooper, or anyone else, loves and has a relationship with.

Of course, not everyone in America is so civilized. Consider, for example, this from Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell, found via John Cole:

We’ve come very far, and yet some of us have even further to go it seems.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Media
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jay says:

    What I want to see is the following. A well known journalist like Cooper say in public:

    “Yes, I am biased.”

    Now THAT would be news.

  2. Jon Henke says:

    I don’t think the end of Ellen’s show was due to any sort of negative blowback over her coming out. It may have been due to the show becoming entirely wrapped around that storyline, but I doubt that it “led to” the end of her sitcom in the sense of negative discrimination.

  3. Jon,

    A fair point.

  4. J-Dub says:

    If only we can someday get past lactose intolerance as well.

  5. mantis says:

    Of course, not everyone in America is so civilized. Consider, for example, this from Media Research Center found Brent Bozell, found via John Cole:

    Or the group anti-gay group One Million Moms (American Family Association astroturf), who threatened to boycott JC Penney for hiring DeGeneres to sell mom jeans for them.

    Or the AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who wrote “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.”

    Or Richard Grenell, Romney’s foreign policy spokesman who was immediately told to shut up after the anti-gay Republicans (but I repeat myself) went nuts over the choice and ended up resigning after a few days of crappy treatment by the Romney campaign in their attempts to not upset the bigot base.

    Or last week, when Minnesota for Marriage came out in favor of the death penalty for homosexuals, because the Bible says so.

    America may not think it’s a big deal for people to be openly gay, but Republicans sure do.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    @Jay:

    What I want to see is the following. A well known journalist like Cooper say in public:
    “Yes, I am biased.”

    And I am waiting for the day when conservatives stop proclaiming themselves to victimized by nearly everything.

  7. Brainster says:

    Next thing you’ll be telling me Michael Stipe is gay.

    I have an uncle who came out about 30 years ago, a little worried about the reaction. Which was, “We all knew.”

  8. Alanmt says:

    We knew this. But it was important for him to say it. And the collective shrug is a good hting.

    In case some additional enthusiasm is merited, let me just say:

    Yay!

  9. anjin-san says:

    No doubt bithead will be arriving soon with a fleet of black helicopters in hot pursuit.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @mantis:

    Or last week, when Minnesota for Marriage came out in favor of the death penalty for homosexuals, because the Bible says so.

    Why any one bothers to write fiction any more is beyond me.

    They {{heart}} the Old Testament:

    “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13)

  11. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Jay: You mean he has a point of view? Do ALL journalists have that? Because it sounds pretty creepy to me.

  12. Paul L. says:

    NIce of you guys to give Anderson Cooper a past.
    CNN’s Anderson Cooper: ‘It’s Hard to Talk When You’re Tea-Bagging’

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    ‘It’s Hard to Talk When You’re Tea-Bagging’

    He deserves a pass for getting that one by the censors.

  14. MBunge says:

    I think you’re all missing the real point. No one cares all that much about Anderson Cooper. Not caring about him being gay is just part of that.

    Mike

  15. legion says:

    I think this is generating relatively little noise for precisely the reason stated several times above – a lot of people already knew this about AC. But how many news cycles would be dedicated to the concept if someone unexpected – Sylvester Stallone, Rush Limbaugh, Payton Manning, whoever – came out? That’s the test of society…

  16. michael reynolds says:

    I worry about the potential for publicly gay figures to recruit people to their side. I know when I found about Rock Hudson I immediately started s*cking c*ck. Fortunately Ellen came out shortly after that and I went back to women.

  17. Racehorse says:

    @al-Ameda: Isn’t Al Sharpton tops when it comes to being victimized?
    I always liked Rock Hudson – great actor. I did not care what he did in private. I did not want to know what he or any celebrity did in private.

  18. Drew says:

    @mantis:

    This one doesn’t. Can I go back to my nap now?

  19. Hello World! says:

    When i was in High school Queen were one of the biggest bands on the planet. Then they did a video n drag and Freddy Mercury grew a mustach, in a matter of a week their album The Works went from #11 on the charts to #75, definitely caused by homophobia by the hard rock crowd.

  20. legion says:

    @Drew: No, you can’t. A lot of people are doing and saying terrible things in the name of the religion you follow. If you don’t want to be lumped in with the bigots and homophobes, you need to wake up and start doing something about it.

  21. G.A. says:

    I worry about the potential for publicly gay figures to recruit people to their side. I know when I found about Rock Hudson I immediately started s*cking c*ck..

    lol, sorry to hear that Harry…

    I had a crush on Ellen way way back when she did an HBO special…I am not sure if she was gay then.

    And the only time I was tossed for a loop when I found out someone was gay was also way back in the late 80’s . I was in Madison and my friends had tickets to Judas Priest, they got to go back stage and meet Rob Halford’s Boyfriend.Before I worked in porno lol, I did not get the leather suits and the whipping of the motorcycle.

  22. Alanmt says:

    @MBunge: Jeff Corwin cares.

  23. G.A. says:

    And I am waiting for the day when conservatives stop proclaiming themselves to victimized by nearly everything.

    How you get 14 like votes from a lame talking point that you guys ripped off from us I’ll never understand.I have heard it used like a zillion
    times here too, sigh….

    Craps getting as bad as wingnut.

  24. Ron Beasley says:

    Unrelated
    Doug
    Have you heard from James? Did he survive the great storm?

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @G.A.:

    How you get 14 like votes from a lame talking point that you guys ripped off from us I’ll never understand.I have heard it used like a zillion
    times here too, sigh….

    I suspect it gets “like” votes because it’s true.

    Conservatives now proclaim themselves to be victimized by so much: The Liberal Media, Affirmative Action, ACORN, George Soros, Planned Parenthood, the Black Panthers, Activist Judges, Women, Gay and Lesbian People, Gun Regulations, Hollywood, Europe …. it’s so sad.

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @Racehorse: .

    @al-Ameda: Isn’t Al Sharpton tops when it comes to being victimized?

    Good question. But here’s the critical difference; Al Sharpton is an individual, and as such he is not in scale nearly as victimized as are about tens of millions of conservatives.

  27. Trumwill says:

    @Brainster: Reminds me of this

    I have an uncle we assumed was gay for the longest time. Mom and I were always trying to figure out how long it would take for Dad to realize it.

    Then he got married and has been happily married ever since.

    Oops!

  28. Dave E. says:

    I agree that Cooper being gay has mostly been treated with shrugs and that’s a good thing. As Paul L. pointed out above though, he deserves Bozell’s little shot for his own little uncivil comment about the Tea Party back in 2009. Surely a man of Cooper’s stature can take it just as well as he dishes it out, and if people are offended, well then maybe Cooper shouldn’t have gone down that road in the first place.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    Surely a man of Cooper’s stature can take it just as well as he dishes it out, and if people are offended, well then maybe Cooper shouldn’t have gone down that road in the first place.

    Of course this comment should apply to the Tea Party crowd as well, like when they talk about the “Democrat” Party or falsely accuse the President of being a “socialist”…

  30. Dave E. says:

    @An Interested Party: My comment relates to a specific point that Doug made. If you want to argue about everything any Tea Party person has ever said we’re going to need a bigger comment thread. And you’ll have to pay me.

  31. An Interested Party says:

    @Dave E.: No argument needed, the only point being that Cooper isn’t alone in deserving little shots…

  32. Dave E. says:

    @An Interested Party: In that we can agree. I deserve my own fair share too. I think it’s been called the human condition.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    I think it’s been called the human condition.

    Thanks for the enlightening, otherwise I never would have known…by the way, I had no idea that Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks like Bela Lugosi…

  34. Dave E. says:

    @An Interested Party: If you know, then you might want to act like it. Then people might not treat you like you’re a child.

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Then people might not treat you like you’re a child.

    Well, if your blog is any indicator, you certainly do know a lot about acting like a child, so kudos to you for that…

  36. Dave E. says:

    Oh lighten up, sweetheart. A little joke at Ginsburg’s and Robert’s expense is no big deal. Don’t be such a pansy.

  37. An Interested Party says:

    Thanks for the concern, darling, but that little joke didn’t upset me at all, I just didn’t see the similarity…as for pansies, a lot of people who are upset with Roberts seem to be acting quite weak in the knees and in need of fainting couches…

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    To echo Paul L., this certainly justifies the comments made when AC made his “tea-bagging” comment on air.

  39. EMRVentures says:

    @legion: Agreed. An active professional athlete of some stature coming out would be a huge story. It’s still a bridge uncrossed.

  40. J-Dub says:

    @EMRVentures: I’ll get the ball rolling on that one, all the Yankees are gay.

  41. G.A. says:

    The Liberal Media, Affirmative Action, ACORN, George Soros, Planned Parenthood, the Black Panthers, Activist Judges, Women, Gay and Lesbian People, Gun Regulations, Hollywood, Europe …. it’s so sad.

    lol. this is liberals making victims out of liberals…sigh….

    You guys mess yourselves up and blame it on everyone else and cry like little, um, well you cry when we point it out or try to stop you from doing a lot of it to others and to yourselves…..

    Cry baby spoiled liberal I want, I need, children that need a good spanking…I know cause am just like you, lol ,then again at the same time not.

    I suspect it gets “like” votes because it’s true.

    It gets like votes because you all think and cry and are self created victims in the same manner.

    I don’t think you have any concept of true or logic.

  42. al-Ameda says:

    @G.A.:

    al-Ameda: The Liberal Media, Affirmative Action, ACORN, George Soros, Planned Parenthood, the Black Panthers, Activist Judges, Women, Gay and Lesbian People, Gun Regulations, Hollywood, Europe …. it’s so sad.

    My goodness, how could I have left out Universities and Colleges, Scientific Research, Unions, Social Security and Medicare?

    There is so much that plagues you and makes you unhappy. Can I offer you some sushi and beer – would that help to ease your pain and angst?

  43. Racehorse says:

    @legion: what if someone that everybody thought was gay announced they were straight?

  44. legion says:

    @Racehorse: Interesting, but probably not a big story. Unless they came out as a straight-up homophobe, it probably wouldn’t sound like anything other than a “yeah, right” denial…

  45. Adam Robert Ryan says:

    @al-Ameda: If these guys were mainstream Christians, they would know that Peter’s vision in Acts 10 told him that the harsh restrictions in Leviticus no longer apply. Pretty much every Christian denomination except Seventh Day Adventists believes this.