A weird thing happened yesterday: two famous people came out of the closet on the same day, both in highly public ways. The first, Anderson Cooper, finally divulged his sexuality, years after everyone else had already figured it out, and the internet shit itself. The second, American Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe, came out despite a relative lack of public scrutiny, and no one really noticed.
So here we have two people, both at the top of their crafts, coming out simultaneously and getting very different results. So what gives?
Let’s take a look at a few facts: Anderson Cooper is basically a silver-haired Jesus. He’s rich, he’s handsome, he’s charming, he’s intelligent and he does a lot of good in his line of work. The same thing can be said for Megan Rapinoe. The only difference is, Anderson Cooper is just more famous.
If we’re judging from the perspective of “can their coming out help young LGBT kids struggling with their own identity?” the answer is that they both can. Which is the argument people tend to use when trying to out a celebrity. And for the record, if this were true, I’d be behind it 100 percent.
The thing is, most of the people asking for celebrities to come out of the closet aren’t doing so because they’re specifically interested in helping kids. I mean, yes, I’m sure on a fundamental level part of their reasoning is based on helping kids. But for the most part, I’m pretty sure grown adults want celebrities to come out because hearing the details of the lives of the rich and famous is fun. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but you can’t force people to come out before they’re ready to because you need some gossip. No one is entitled to see the intimate details of another person’s life unless they directly affect them.
Don’t get me wrong: celebrities coming out is great. I think seeing someone rich and famous living happily as an openly gay man can actually help kids. That being said, I think a lot of the media scrutiny into outing has more to do with idle gossip than it does helping kids. You cannot couch your feelings of entitlement in regards to a celebrity’s private life within philanthropy. If you’re concerned about showing kids that successful people can live openly gay lives and still be happy, do it yourself. But don’t ask famous people to do it just because they have a recognizable face and name.