Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Anderson Cooper's Coming Out IS a Big Deal

It's been a long time since my last regular blog post. In the past few days, I've posted some lists of theater trivia from the 2012-13 season, but there hasn't been any deep stuff from the David Desk since March. It's just been really busy between my job and planning a wedding with my partner in June and now planning a big trip in August as a sort of honeymoon. (More blogs on that later.) So much has happened--Where to start?

Anderson Cooper's coming out, let's go with that. The reaction to this non-surprise has been mixed. Some say a big so what, what's the big deal, we all knew anyway and who cares, it's his private business. Others are reacting with hostility that celebrities deserve their privacy just as much as anyone else. I had written about this about a year ago or so in a blog about Kathy Griffin's purposely NOT joking about her pal Anderson's closet status. Just a week before AC's big reveal, he appeared on her Bravo talk show. One of her "civilian" friends was siting on the couch with Anderson and said she had a big crush on him and was convinced they were now dating. Anderson said "It's not gonna happen." The audience laughed and the inside joke was he was gay. But nobody said anything about that.

I have also heard that the reason he didn't publicly acknowledge his sexuality was so he could continue to report on the ground in fundamentalist Muslim countries.

The reason this is important is that gay people are still being persecuted and gay kids are being bullied and driven to depression and suicide. Being gay is not an agenda or a political statement, it's a natural state of being like being black or Asian. The more prominent, brave, and successful people who come out, the more homosexuality will be accepted as an ordinary way to be. The longer Anderson failed to publicly acknowledge his being gay, the longer it was seen as a secret and shameful--it was seen as something that would alienate his CNN and talk-show viewers. In one interview with P Diddy the rap star offered a gift to Anderson to give to his wife. Anderson said he wasn't married and didn't have a girlfriend. He should have been able to say "I'm gay" and left it at that. I wrote at the time that's what I wanted to happen. I want  celebrities to be able to say "I'm gay" and then move on to something else--or to talk about it if they want to. I think that day is here.

When people say "It's no big deal, why talk about it at all?" what they are really saying is, "It's OK to talk about celebs' relationships and marriages and break-ups if they are straight, but not if they are gay. Let's not talk about gay stuff at all. We all know it's there, let's just pretend it doesn't exist. Anyway, seeing two men or two women kiss creeps me out."

Last month I was married to my partner both in NYC--where it is legal--and Pennsylvania--where it is not. The very act of a public ceremony treating my same-sex relationship as equal to a heterosexual one is revolutionary and Anderson's finally coming is another revolution. It means the general public will not turn from him in droves and his attracted to men will not be a stigma. The process of acceptance is slow, but it's happening and it's inevitable. The day will come when we can get married in all 50 states. Yes North Carolina, even you will accept me and Cooper's coming out is a part of that future.

More blogs to come.

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