It makes me sad and frustrated that anyone needs to "come out" at all. However, I realize now that being "out" to family, friends, colleagues, professors, the Internet, etc. helps them get to know me and helps me be more comfortable with the way I am.
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.
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."
It is not Cooper who will clear the career paths for a new crop of out gay men and women; it is those journalists who paved the way for Anderson Cooper's career, which has been largely free of the burden of anti-gay discrimination. They are the original risk takers and role models.
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.