Anderson Cooper is one of those rare people who could make a perfectly good case for staying the closet. He didn’t need to come out as he did earlier today on The Daily Beast. He could have just have easily said that he’d prefer not to talk about his sexual orientation, because if he needed to work in the Middle East it could raise problems, or say that might need to report on gay marriage without his objectivity being called into question.
And that would have been fair. Frankly, as a reporter, Anderson Cooper would have been perfectly justified in staying in the closet forever. However, as he wrote, he ultimately decided that “I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.”
In making that decision, he’s done his part to make us a more accepting, aware, compassionate society as a whole. That seems downright noble of him. Actor Michael McCean tweeted that “Anderson Cooper helps us move ‘what shouldn’t matter’ closer to ‘what doesn’t matter’ #someday” which seems…. yes. That, Michael McCean, that.
That was my first reaction. My second reaction was “Jesus, I’m so glad he’s not being forced to tilt his head at some insane, supposedly non-threatening angle on the cover of People magazine. “I believe you know what I mean:
That said, there’s been some criticism about whether Anderson made a big enough deal about the fact that he was gay. Some people – like Dana Stevens from Slate – notes that his coming out was “classily done” while others, like Richard Lawson in The Atlantic point out that, “this celebration of the “no big deal” ideology, of deeming an almost sneaky approach a classy move, does seem to fly in the face of the idea of pride.” Personally, I think it was pretty tastefully handled, because People Magazine covers really aren’t my thing.
But you know, it doesn’t really matter what I think. I’m a heterosexual woman and society has spent my entire childhood giving me opportunities to reveal that I was heterosexual – from discussing which Disney prince I wanted to marry when I was five, to middle school slumber parties where we pretty much exclusively talked about what boys we wanted to date, to prom, to parties where women Pinterest wedding magazines (adult life is weird, I’m still not sure how Pinterest works).
Look, this pretty much should be the norm. In that “someday” that Michael McCean references, it should be equally possible to say that you want to marry Ariel instead of Gaston. “Coming out” shouldn’t need to be a big reveal that happens, it should just be a part of the things we know about someone. That’s how normal it should be. The celebrities who claim that their sexuality should be a private matter seem slightly off base – it should simply be a matter that no one judges negatively, and that doesn’t necessitate a big reveal. It should be a private matter the way your eye color is a private matter.
But, until it is, at the very least, if you are a celebrity who has to come out for a massive audience, you should get to pick your own way to come out without judgement. You want to come out on the cover of People magazine? You come out on the cover of People magazine! Tilt your head all funny! You want to offhandedly thank your partner at the Tony’s? You do that! You want to mention it in a letter and publish it on the Daily Beast? Cool! Mention it in a letter.
As long as we’re responsible for a world where coming out is necessary at all – which is to say that it’s something that has the potential to be uncomfortable for people – we don’t really get a right to dictate how they do it. There is no “right” way to do it, because having to do it at all should be unnecessary.
That said, you can go appreciate it here.
Pics via Mediabistro, People Magazine