Talking Anderson Cooper's coming out on CNN's Reliable Sources this Sunday
Regular blog readers may have noticed a dearth of posts this week; I've been on vacation and decided after Tuesday morning I didn't have the energy to post anything while I was out of the office.
But I've broken my slight break for important news: I'll be on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday to talk on CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's coming out with two other journalists, former Philadelphia Inquirer TV writer Gail Shister and Michangelo Signorile of Huffington Post's Gay Voices page.
A lot of folks have been saying Cooper's coming out is no big deal, and I expect we'll talk on whether this was an event worthy of news coverage. Certainly, timing the declaration in the slow news week of July 4 may have helped expand coverage -- when the big news story on the Today show is about a Florida lifeguard who got fired after saving somebody's life, you know its a slow time.
But I also think such declarations are another way of changing the subject. The fact is, for celebrities especially, coming out is a personal decision with a significant public impact. And at a time when a great many Americans still have a hard time agreeing that gay people deserve every civil right that heterosexuals have, the public face of homosexuality remains an important topic.
I can say in my own case, the biggest impact on erasing my own misconceptions about gay people was personal contact with proudly public homosexuals who put the lie to all my childish hangups. Like so many people, I grew up in a neighborhood and time when the worst thing you could say about another boy or man was that he might be gay.
Unwinding the impact of that nonsense took some time; but meeting incredibly cool gay people in my first newspaper jobs and in my life outside of the newsroom helped immensely.
It's what led me to write this piece about the parallels between the struggle for gay rights and civil rights for people of color. It's also what has led me to keep writing about the issue during my time at the newspaper, pressing for more conversation even when others demand silence, assuming all the issues have been settled.
We are in odd times on the issue of gay people and celebrity. I wrote this column back in 2005, when PBS stations were taking flak for featuring an episode of a children's show in which a family headed by a lesbian couple were included. Five years later, I wrote this column about allegations that country singer Chely Wright was declaring her status as a lesbian to boost sales for a new record and memoir.
In five years, we've gone from seeing homosexuality as a career-killer to a career move. Can it really be that simple?
I expect we'll tackle this and a lot more on Sunday. Feel free to check it out or weight on what we should be talking about here.