Does the fact that you live a good life, are kind, work hard -- or are a hero as in Sally Ride's case -- become moot because you don't come out? I hope not.
I found coming out to be an extremely healing experience that wasn't easy at first, but led me toward greater peace and wholeness. Telling the truth can be challenging, but it will bring your destiny closer to you; it will ignite your life and give your struggle greater meaning and purpose.
I worked with my first celebrities who came out more than two decades ago and clearly we have made extraordinary strides. But we have not reached the promised land yet.
Too often we see the queer community literally white-washed. Telling the stories and honoring the coming-out struggles of people of color like Frank Ocean and Diana King, or of people who challenge gender roles like Megan Rapinoe, is extremely important.
When Anderson Cooper announced in a short and precisely worded email that he is, in fact, homosexual, it immediately became a national news item. ABC News, Fox News and even CNN ran stories about Cooper's sexuality. We should not be proud of this.
Even for someone prone to being so hateful in public, Brent Bozell's behavior in recent months stands out -- and particularly in the past couple of weeks -- in its viciousness and disregard for the reputation of his organization.
Not the gay club, to which he has belonged for a while. Rather, the club of those whose character is questioned because they didn't come out earlier. In place of the more difficult work of questioning a culture's character, it's easier for pundits to question a celebrity's character.
As recently as 1989, tolerance for gays and gay jounalists was hardly prevalent. I would cringe at the gay jokes in the newsroom. A few years earlier I overheard a colleague tell a cameraman, "You better watch when you interview those gays. You don't want to catch AIDS, you know."
We met up to talk about the complicated notion of "coming out," Anderson Cooper, and Frank Ocean, and why we think society needs to exit the proverbial "closet" and not LGBT folk.
Those of us who were lucky enough to be born into climates safe for us -- because of where we live or because of the identity we have -- have a moral obligation to be out (and yes, I'm looking at you, closeted celebrities). Cowardice and "privacy" are no excuse.
How often do we hear about the boyfriends/girlfriends, fiancés, spouses, or even the one-night stands of our straight friends and co-workers? Yet as soon as LGBT people enter into the discussion, love and sexuality become a matter of a person's "private life"? Give me a break.
Visibility is why coming out is still a vital part of the fight for equality. Having a high-profile LGBT person come into people's living rooms daily and doing their job well can help remove some of the "otherness" of gay people and increase cultural comfort levels.
Cooper's silence sent a loud if unintentional message to the straight people who still think gays are different and threatening, and to the gay kids who still don't have enough public examples of successful, happy people who happen to be gay. I was that kind of gay kid.
Is someone who is straight (or closeted) any better able to cover a gay story? Every reporter has a long list of bias points. It is time we shatter this notion that being part of a minority group means you should not be able to cover that group.
I'm proud to be able to point to a man as brave, eloquent, professional, and honorable as Anderson Cooper and say, honestly and with no hesitation, "I want to be like him someday." We gained a real hero yesterday.