Out With Anderson
Anderson Cooper has come out of the closet. In other breaking news, the sky is blue and water is wet. But seriously, folks, the worst kept secret in the world is no longer a secret. To the delight of many a gay man—and speculative gossip columnist—Cooper announced to the world that he is gay, effectively putting to rest any doubts and confirming the not so surreptitious suspicions of many.
Cooper’s coming out has been met with a mix of cheers and yawns from newsies all over; some having the ‘it’s about time’ attitude to others saying ‘so what else is new?’ My, how cynical we’ve become in our world. Not too long ago, a person of any celebrity status coming out would have been hailed as a hero for their bravery. These days, anyone suspected of being gay who has not pressed the confirmation button tends to get rolling eyes and a half smile.
The world is still a hostile place for most homosexuals, a fact we can forget in our fairly protective bubble.
I must admit I was one of the cynics. I was happy to hear that he finally publicly acknowledged his sexuality because I feel it is most liberating and freeing to live openly and honestly. After that, I shrugged it off as being a little queer blip. That is until I read a piece by comedienne Kathy Griffin for The Daily Beast. Yes, the doyenne of the D-List is actually quite an effective writer.
After I read her piece I realized my own homo hubris: I take for granted being openly gay in a world that is still dangerous. As Griffin expressed, it wasn’t ever her place to speak about her friend’s sexuality for many reasons, not the least of which his coming out could have potentially deadly results because of what he does for a living. The world is still a hostile place for most homosexuals, a fact we can forget in our fairly protective bubble.
Coming out is a process…one declaration is not the end of it;
it’s really just the beginning.
The article also brought to mind the fact that we in the queer community have forgotten what coming out is like. Many of us who popped our political cherry years ago and flaunt our faggotry may be a little shortsighted and intolerant of those on a different path. Coming out is a process. It takes time. It is both internal and external. One declaration is not the end of it; it’s really just the beginning.
My personal coming out process began when I was about 19. I had had a few boyfriends prior to my own declaration, but they were all secret loves hidden behind veils of fear and subterfuge. Even then I never used the word gay—not even while I was in bed with a boyfriend. I hadn’t yet really admitted it to myself.
Telling a few straight friends was the beginning of my journey and it was baby steps. It was 1982 and I was very lucky to have a core group of friends who were supportive and understanding. Remember, this was in the few years following the delisting of homosexuality as a mental illness and the notorious Toronto bathhouse raids. Back then I thought it was all said and done when I revealed my ‘true self.’
In truth, it took years to admit to my family I was gay. I told my brother when I was in my late 20s and my mother found out when I was in my early 40s. My father died never really knowing the truth. I have been married and divorced. Yet, still the process continues. I’m faced with it when visiting other countries. I’m faced with it when in a local bar outside of my ‘comfort zone’ and some guy sitting next to me starts throwing the word faggot around. I’m faced with it with every new job I’m up for.
Ironically, Cooper proclaimed himself the day after Toronto Pride—one of the largest LGBT events in the world. In the afterglow of the parades and parties and politics, I hope we can remember that being openly gay is still a privilege on this planet, one I hope becomes less politically and socially combustible someday soon. I hope that while we celebrate our own accomplishments and strides we also remember to have a little compassion for our compatriots who may be on a different path in their process so we greet them with a little less cynicism and a little more love.
photo credit: Maassive
Tags: Anderson Cooper
, Andrew Vail
, coming out
, Kathy Griffin
, The D List
, The Daily Beast
, Toronto Pride