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Anderson Cooper comes out as gay: too little, too late?

In an email published by The Daily Beast, Anderson Cooper has come out, saying, “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."

While many have applauded Anderson’s decision to be honest with the world about who he is, others, like iconic Club Kid James St James, who blogs for World of Wonder, have been more scathing:

Anderson Cooper has finally come out of the closet, glory be. In a letter to Andrew Sullivan’s website Coop confirms what we’ve always known. “In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business,” he wrote, “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.” VALUE IN STANDING UP AND BEING COUNTED? Did this suddenly just come to him in a vision? Where was that “value” when he was reporting on LGBT bullying? When it could have done some good? Anderson has long claimed that his private life is his own, that “as a journalist he didn’t want to BECOME part of the story.” I have always been puzzled by this. If you look at his career, you’ll see that he has a habit of inserting himself into every story he does ANYWAY. When he was covering Katrina, he was fishing people out of the water and sobbing that he was a HUMAN BEING who NEEDED TO HELP before he could report the story. When he was in Haiti, he was pulling children from the rubble. In Egypt he was punched in the face and made headlines around the world. HE’S ALWAYS PART OF THE STORY BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT HE’S A CELEBRITY JOURNALIST. Suddenly, though, when it came to LGBT bullying he DIDN’T THINK IT WAS HIS PLACE to come out, to identify as gay, and be part of the story? Give me a break. By choosing to make LGBT bullying his pet project and then refusing to come out, he reinforced the notion that HE THOUGHT there was something WRONG or HARMFUL with being gay. Otherwise, why not just say “I’m gay, it gets better.” It would have helped a lot. Of course, you can say: “Better late than never. He’s out now.” I don’t know. I think it was cowardly to stay in the closet for 20 years.

James makes some valid points, but at the same time, I can’t help but think that when someone has just come out for the first time publicly — even if you think he should’ve done it a long time ago and the fact that he didn’t makes him a coward — it’s important to celebrate that person, to show him and the world that his choice to be out is a positive thing. Even though I’ve found Anderson’s silence over the years confusing, congratulations are still in order because everyone has a right to come out when and how they want.

That said, why would anyone want to come out to a community of bitter and bitchy queens? We have to give people time and respect and let them know that whether they were in the closet for 20 years or 20 minutes, they are not alone. 

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