Tag Archives: Andrew Sullivan

Anderson Cooper: “The fact is, I’m gay.”

2 Jul

While it won’t be a surprise to many, Anderson Cooper has publicly acknowledged the fact that he’s a gay man.

As Entertainment Weekly pointed out last week, it’s becoming more and more of a non-issue for someone to come out. And it no longer needs to be something splashed on the front page of People Magazine. Look at Jim Parsons, who came out quietly and sincerely in an interview about his new Broadway show, Harvey.

There are people across the country who will be shocked by this. But the truth of the matter is that we have another happy, successful out gay man spending hours in living rooms around the US every day. Congratulations and thank you to Anderson for showing young people out there that they can love who they love and still live the lives they want to live.

In an email exchange with Andrew Sullivan, Anderson wrote:

Andrew, as you know, the issue you raise is one that I’ve thought about for years. Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.

But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.

I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.

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 have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.

Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray gay and lesbian people in the media – and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.

Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come. But while I feel very blessed to have had so many opportunities as a journalist, I am also blessed far beyond having a great career.

I love, and I am loved.

In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.

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How One Person Coming Out Can Change the World

11 Oct

Raymond Miller (photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

It is my belief that a pretty large majority of the people who read this blog have come out to their families and friends. Many of you are also out at work, at church, to your local businesses and everyone you meet. And some of you may read this blog and others like it as your only outreach to the LGBT community.

Today is National Coming Out Day and we want to be certain that our readers understand the importance of being out. We’ve created a little survey of our own here that we’d love for you to take so we can get an idea of who’s reading and some of your stories.

In 2009, Gallup conducted a survey which told us many things, but primarily it told us that those who know us, are far more likely to vote for our equality. On the question of marriage, the number of those who do not think we should have marriage equality dropped from 72% to 47% among respondents who didn’t know vs. those who knew someone who is gay or lesbian.

With simple acceptance of our relationships, those who didn’t personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, 57% said that our relationships should be illegal. Among those who said they personally knew one of us, that number dropped to 29%:

A good friend once asked me if there was anyone in my family that didn’t know I was gay. I told him that my grandmother didn’t know because she was so old and why would I upset her at her age? He simply asked: “Does she vote?” Yes, she did. If these numbers are correct, than it tells us that people may vote for us nearly 2-to-1 when they know one of us (as Harvey Milk once said).

But it goes farther than that. A few years ago, I asked friends on facebook to use their Thanksgiving family gatherings to tell their families who they are. And to those who were already out, to use the time around the table to ask their families to do more. We need allies, so asking your families and friends to be not only allies, but advocates for your equality can double or triple the number of people affected by your coming out.

That Christmas, I went home and was doing my Christmas Eve gift wrapping with my sister-in-law. There was a brief pause in our conversation and she said “You know, I did what you asked me to do and I brought up gay marriage with some co-workers.” She went on to say she was “surprised” by some of her co-worker’s attitudes on equality, but continued to discuss it nonetheless. Did she change everyone’s minds just by bringing it up? Probably not. But is it possible she made some people think about what equality really means to them and perhaps consider voting for it? It’s very likely.

When the Gallup survey came out, Andrew Sullivan used it as a rallying cry so that people would “accelerate the coming-out process.” It’s clear that coming out makes a difference in how people vote and that those still living in the closet can actually hurt our progress. The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission used the Gallup survey to ask Christians to stop knowing gays and lesbians. Because hey, if you don’t know us, you won’t vote for us, right? It’s this kind of bigoted rhetoric which causes statistics like the nearly 1/3 of all homeless teens being LGBT.

So, we are issuing this request. Challenge yourself. If there is anyone in your life that you are not out to, and you can safely come out to, do it. You don’t have to do it today (despite the awesomely perfect excuse you have today), but make a commitment today and give yourself a deadline to tell everyone in your life who you are – including your banker and dry cleaner – they vote too.