Anderson Cooper Comes Out…And it Matters
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper came out on Monday, ending years of speculation about his sexual orientation while giving LGBT youth yet another role model, and exploring the issue of where journalistic integrity intersects with the value of standing up and being counted as part of a community that still fights to be seen as equals in the eyes of the law despite a public endorsement from Obama and members of his administration.
Cooper formally made his statement in an email to Andrew Sullivan, a writer at The Daily Beast who is also gay and has been a friend of his for over 20 years, setting the Internet abuzz.
"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," the host of CNN's Anderson Cooper: 360 wrote.
Sullivan contacted Cooper after an Entertainment Weekly cover story explored the new, more subtle manner in which gay celebrities have come out in recent years, a trend he said he appreciates but has the risk of under-estimating how much being publicly out matters, particularly in light of homophobia that remains pervasive in the media.
Cooper explained that, to him, the public and media-driven curiosity about his sexuality stood in opposition to his conceptualization of a journalist's role – he "prefer[s] to stick to [his] job of telling other people’s stories, and not [his] own." In addition, he said, he felt that a journalist's "private life shouldn't matter."
With the demands of his job, which often requires him to travel to less open societies, Cooper said he has spent much of his professional life "try[ing] to blend in as much as possible."
Yet Cooper felt compelled to come out after considering the importance of openly discussing his sexuality, both on a personal and a broader level
"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."
Cooper added in his email to Sullivan, "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."
Now out, Cooper defines his position as a reporter and gay man slightly differently.
"I’m not an activist," he said, "but I am a human being and I don't give that up by being a journalist."