Anderson Cooper is gay. So what! At such a pivotal time for LGBT rights and recognition one might argue that this is a rather callous remark. Anderson Cooper is also intelligent, compassionate, insightful, not to mention the fact that he has gray hair, is thin and very well might use heavy cream in his coffee in the morning knowing full well that 2 percent or skim milk are probably the healthier choice.
The struggles of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender as well as those who may be questioning their sexuality are not to be undermined, but what does the public declaration by a celebrity regarding who he or she finds sexually attractive truly do in the fight for equality?
It's a conundrum. On the one hand, we ask those with celebrity status to recognize that they are just like us, that they deserve no preferential treatment and as such should learn to walk among the normal folk without a sense of entitlement. Yet at the same time, especially in the arena of LGBT issues, there seems to be a certain psychic, cosmic wave of applause and adulation when someone with star power makes a public declaration that they are not only supporters of the community, but part of the community as well.
On Monday, Cooper stepped fully out of the closet via e-mail to well-known writer Andrew Sullivan: "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," he wrote.
Anderson Cooper is gay, and in his own words he always has been. Anderson Cooper is happy, and in his own words he couldn't be more comfortable or proud by this earth-shattering piece of news.
Understandably, whenever a celebrity makes a public statement regarding a supercharged social topic, he or she becomes somewhat of a lightning rod, that of a magnet for both supporters and opponents. So it is understandable that Cooper's public coming out engendered a deluge of support from friends and gay-rights activists.
Take for instance the gay-rights group GLAAD, which issued a statement. "Even prior to coming out publicly, Anderson's terrific work has raised awareness of inequalities facing LGBT people," stated GLAAD President Herndon Graddick, who went on to say, "I'm proud to call him my friend. He's a role model to millions and now will inspire countless others."
Anderson Cooper is gay. So what! Anderson Cooper has been a role model to millions simply by being Anderson Cooper, and he has done so on the merits of his work. His unwavering commitment to bringing attention to human struggle in an attempt to uplift the human condition continues to amaze. And as of late with gal pals like Kathy Griffin he has further endeared himself by showing off a somewhat quirky if not self-deprecating sense of humor.
The fact that with celebrity comes responsibility is an important state of mind and need be embraced by anyone who finds him or herself in the proverbial limelight. But Anderson Cooper was a substantial human being long before he decided to address a history of media speculation and publicly confirm he is in fact gay.
In fact, it seems somewhat sad that he felt compelled to explain:
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'm trying to hide something-something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it's 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.
Along with being gay, Anderson Cooper is also quite eloquent. But how far have we really come if the likes of Cooper, who has done so much for so many in the name of the equality, still feels that he owes the public the right to be included in one of the most personal aspects of his life; that of who and how he loves.
Cooper is many things to many people. He has and continues to make his mark on the world and deserves to be recognized not only for his accomplishments, but also for what clearly drives him as a man and as a human being.
Anderson Cooper also happens to be gay and still the question begs, so what?
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