CNN's Anderson Cooper comes out: "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be..."
It's something which shouldn't be news, except that it is.
Anderson Cooper, CNN's signature anchor, sent an email to Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan noting something which had been an open secret in media and pop culture circles for years: That he is gay.
He wrote: "Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something - something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.
"I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.
"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
I wrote a lot more about this subject back in the mid-'90s, when Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell were declaring their sexual orientation at a time when showbiz experts were wondering if it might kill their careers. I had great conversations on the subject with DeGeneres' mom -- she even included some of our conversation in her book about her daughter -- and proudly out rock singer Melissa Etheridge.
Etheridge told me back then that people assume gay celebrities hold back because of career considerations, but the real complication may be a close relative or friend who doesn't know and the celebritiy is afraid may reject them. Much as they balance the needs of high-powered careers, they are also people with the same concerns everyone has when coming out about how news will impact those closest to them, the singer reminded me.
Which all serves to say, I'm glad Cooper has decided to tell the wider world of something his friends, co-workers and familiy already seemed to know. Whether the obstacle to that disclosure was personal, professional or something else, feeling free to be who you are to the world is an important liberty -- it's great to see that he can finally enjoy that full measure of freedom just like most everyone else.