SFGN Editorial: Anderson Cooper, We Need You

Norm Kent, Publisher

“The fact is, I’m gay,”

-Anderson Cooper

With those words last week, Anderson Cooper confirmed what everyone already knew. Last year, this newspaper prepared a cover story entitled “Why Won’t Anderson Cooper Come Out of the Closet?” I wrote the story. I killed it too. We simply had no new facts that revealed anything new.

In putting the Kabosh on what arguably might have been a compelling piece, I concluded that this is a story only he can break at his own time and in his own place. I would not be shocking the world by saying I went to a party at his boyfriend’s gay Manhattan bar and he was there with Kathy Griffin anymore than if I wrote Malcolm Forbes once had me on his yacht in Fort Lauderdale.

It is not like the world did not know Anderson Cooper was gay. His family did. His friends did. His colleagues did. Whether it was at the opening of his partner’s bar, or premier events, Anderson and A-List guests, gay and straight, were always there. So it was not like South Florida Gay News was sitting on breaking news.

The reason we almost ran the piece, detailing the parties and people Anderson associated with, was because I was being selfish. I wanted Anderson to come out. We need him on our team.

Last year, we did a feature on the increasing number of gay stars who have revealed their sexual orientation. From Ricky Martin to Wanda Sykes, what really matters is how the light they shed on their own lives illuminates others. If their honesty can open the door so as to allow another person to emerge from the shadows, their statement has meaning.

I was tired of hearing how Cooper was protecting his status as an independent journalist, not interested in listening how it would protect the ‘integrity’ of his stories. I wanted his gayness to be known so the world could see one more legitimate professional whose gayness did not matter. Anderson, we need you.

Outside of the new head of Apple, Tim Cook, Anderson has arguably been one of the most prominent gay men in America. His fame has been won by his years as a journalist, not his nights under the sheets. I, too, would like to think that when my own story is written, I will be remembered not for who I bedded personally, but what I bettered professionally.

The world is gay. The world is straight. And there are lots of in-betweens. We know this, especially when we march in our parades and gather on our Pride floats.  There are many colors and pastels in our universal rainbow.

America is and has always been a melting pot of diversity, but one where for too long, gays and lesbians have not always been welcome to the party. Nevertheless, Americans, over time, have inevitably supported an elastic democracy, seeking to find ways to expand the circle rather than restrict it. As individuals, we embrace freedoms, we do not limit them.  The traditions of yesterday yield to the truths of today.

Along the way, we have lost our way, because of prostituting preachers and nutty nationalists whose sanctimonious screams have tried to put boundaries on our shores and build fences in our states. The line of repression extends to legislators who want to barricade our borders and limit our laws, restricting the right of people to be free. For these pontificating perverts, the Statue of Liberty is not a torch which illuminates, but a light that blinds. Call them idiots. It is okay. They are.

In March 1990, soon after Malcolm Forbes’s death, Michelangelo Signorile ran an article titled "The Secret Gay Life of Malcolm Forbes," in OutWeek Magazine. Signorile was critical of the media for helping Forbes publicize many aspects of his life while keeping his homosexuality a secret. He asked, "Is our society so overwhelmingly repressive that even individuals as all-powerful as the late Malcolm Forbes feel they absolutely cannot come out of the closet?"

If Anderson Cooper, one of the most powerful media figures in the world cannot comfortably genuflect about his passion for guys, how is he going to tell some bullied high school kid to not worry about it either?  So I wanted to do a story about why he should come out and how that could help others. I felt it was inevitable, but it had to come from him.

With more and more stars quietly ‘outing’ themselves, it became a little bit of a running joke with Anderson, reducing his prestige and position, almost intimating that he was ashamed of who he was. Each day it was becoming a bigger story than it needed to be, because in fact, Anderson Cooper is very comfortable in being who he is and how he lives. He needed to burst the bubble of misperception.

It is great that he has joined the party, but please don’t expect him to be the grand marshal at the next New York City gay pride parade. Yes, you may see him overlooking Times Square on New Year’s Eve, but this guy is still a journalist who may work a war zone in a country where homosexuals are subject to a death penalty. And he did not get there via Fire Island beach parties, even though you may see him at one.

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