When I heard Anderson Cooper officially came out, my initial reaction was to release a similarly shocking announcement that I am not, in fact, a literal panda, but a human lady. I mean, it was non-news. The most reported non-news ever, but it seemed more like a pleasant distraction from self-righteous health care ire (from both sides of the aisle) and TomKat’s divorce than something that people were actually super involved in.
I understand Anderson’s desire to keep his private life private. I can tell you, even as a blogger, I would hate for someone to go poking into my personal business (though they would have to make a lot of things up to make it even remotely tabloid-worthy). Anderson’s sexuality has no bearing on his ability to work at the top of his field. But I can remember when the only people who were openly gay in the media were Bobby Trendy and Pedro from The Real World San Francisco. I can remember when Ellen’s sitcom got cancelled after she mortally offended the whole world by coming out and bringing her character with her. And I can remember my own gay friends going to their own schools, some hiding who they were, not yet comfortable with it themselves while others were loud and proud and got the shit kicked out of them for being fags.
So it is a huge deal for someone like Anderson Cooper to come out. To be a role model for anyone who wants to be a journalist, and now for any gay kid who just wants to be like everyone else. Had my friend Evan had people like Anderson to look to, he might not have kept his sexuality a secret by dating girls and then breaking up with them by posting Cher songs to their lockers, highlighting key phrases until he could bear it no longer and came out to me in a hysterical early morning phone call. And my friend Zeke might not have gotten shoes thrown at him (us) when he (we) went to his Senior Prom if the shoe throwers didn’t see gay as such an anomaly. And Lord knows that Eric McGillis would not have been so desperate for God to take that gay out of him if hotties like Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer were around to show him that he could have a family and a career and a husband if he wanted those things.
I wish I could go back in time and hug all of those boys, who so desperately needed it and tell them how much better things were really going to get. Gay marriage is a thing that has happened. Celebrities are out. We have come so far in a decade and can only go forward. There’s a lot left to fight for, but way fewer people to fight against.