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Why Does Anyone Care What Anderson Cooper's Sexual Orientation Is?

Posted: 07/02/2012 8:27 pm

This question originally appeared on Quora.

2012-07-03-efriedman.jpeg
Erica Friedman is the President and Founder of Yuricon & ALC Publishing. She writes the world's oldest and most comprehensive blog on lesbian-themed Japanese animation and comics at Okazu. She writes about Social Media Marketing at SocialOptimized.

You're looking at this from one perspective - the perspective that a person's choice of partner may or may not affect what other people might feel about them. It's a valid perspective, but it misses out on a few other key perspectives:

What a person thinks about themselves is pretty important. Anderson Cooper has been out to friends and family for a long while. And he's relatively well-known as being gay in LGBTQ circles. But. He's a journalist, and his life is about uncovering truth. In the midst of this, he's obscured a part of his own life - for very good reasons, the desire to protect those closest to him, the need for a private life.  Along with the pressure of wanting those things, there is another pressure, one that builds inside us, the desire to be all of who we are, all the time. As Cooper said in his interview, there comes a time you have to stand up and be counted.

The other perspective - and this might sound ridiculous to you if you have never experienced it, but I assure you that it is real - is the nagging, pervasive feeling that someone out there needs you to come out. There is a kid who wants to be on TV as a journalist and is being pummeled in a bathroom while the bully taunts, "A reporter on TV? They don't let fags be TV reporters!"

I am not "out" because I want to make a spectacle of my life, any more than my sister is "out" as a heterosexual. We both have lives. But right now it is extremely important that I "be out" because one day a kid who feels alone and has no one to talk to about what they care about will  take a comic off a shelf, and read the story of a young girl in Tokyo, facing all the same sorts of things that that kid is facing, and she'll read the words from the artist and know that she is not alone at all. That there are people all over the world just like her.

I, who am not particularly famous or influential, get emails all the time telling me how the community I created changed a life. Can you imagine how many lives Anderson Cooper just changed? That's that many more people who can point to someone who is successful, happy, and gay. That's that many more people who can't say they don't know anyone and have never actually seen a gay person.

We all knew Cooper was gay, but now he doesn't have to hide, and we don't have to wish he'd have the balls to stand up and be counted.

I'm not out because I think it's important, I'm out because I know it's important. Anderson Cooper came to that same conclusion.

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