Anderson Cooper


I was pleasantly surprised to hear on TV the other morning that my darling boy Anderson Cooper has come out of the closet.



Not that this is a surprise, mind you. I think I (and many others) have pretty much always known that Anderson is on our team. I am always delighted when a celebrity comes out of the closet. As I’ve said before: the more the merrier. It makes it that much easier for a teenager in Two Dot, Montana to come to terms with his / her own sexuality.




And I do like the words Anderson chose, for their breezy casualness: “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 . . . 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.”




Do yourself a favor and go read Anderson’s whole letter on Andrew Sullivan’s blog.



It addresses, nicely and neatly, the question: Is there ever a good reason to stay in the closet?



For Anderson, there were two: the desire to have a private life, and the desire – as a journalist – to maintain objectivity. (“I want to report the news, not be the news,” he said.) Not that there’s any question about his objectivity; I find his reporting very balanced. But then, I’m a fan. But his deeper point is worth pondering. If you’re a member of the radical right, what do you think of Rachel Maddow? Smart? Incisive? Nah. She’s that lesbian on MSNBC. See, for a lot of people, you can’t be gay and objective. You’re always advancing the gay agenda.



(As I’m advancing it now. As in: gay people are part of society. Always have been, always will be.  And, increasingly, we are choosing not to live in celibate seclusion. So go deal with it.)



As a journalist, Anderson was confident of his own objectivity, but was (understandably) reluctant to give critics any reason to doubt his objectivity. Appearances aren’t everything, but they’re not nothing.



But sometimes the mere fact that you’ve come out – Here I am! You wanna make something of it? – is a worthwhile and powerful statement.  It goes to prove that “gay,” like “Asian-American” or “Californian,” is just one of many attributes, and it doesn’t define or inform your entire life. He’s not Anderson Cooper the gay journalist; he’s Anderson Cooper the journalist.  (Example: Neil Patrick Harris is super gay. But he plays a womanizer on a stupid CBS sitcom, and people love it. And I love him for doing it.)



(And here’s another thing: it’s not always safe to be openly gay. Read this excellent piece by Kathy Griffin on the subject. She points out, very neatly, that gay people are subjected to hatred and violence in much of the world – including the United States.  She praises Anderson’s bravery, and rightly so.)



All things considered, I think Anderson made the right decision. And I like that he did it right after the end of Pride Month. Here’s the message I got from that: Pride doesn’t end on June 30. It’s a yearlong activity.



Long live Anderson Cooper.



And his eyes, which (as Anderson tells Pee-Wee Herman at the end of this wonderful video) are a national treasure.



Sunday blog: Pee-wee Herman and Andy Samberg do shots!

Here is a SNL Digital Short for anyone who likes any of the following:

  • Pee-wee Herman;

  • Andy Samberg;

  • Anderson Cooper;

  • Doing shots.

Fame and fortune



I am descended from many generations of unwealthy and unfamous people.  No surprise there.  (I had a great-great-grandmother who fell for the Anneke Jans Bogardus hoax of the mid-1800s, which entailed proving your descent from Dutch royalty, but she died insane, so there you go.)  I marvel, though, at how money and fame and position go rippling through the generations.  There must be something Darwinian at work.  Once you’ve got any of those three things, you will pass it/them along to your kids.

And all three of those things buy access.

Access to a good education.  Access to other influential people who may be helpful in life.  Access to leisure time, and good food, and a nice house.  All of these leading to net positives for one’s own offspring, and so on.

They also buy recognition, and the appearance of worth.  The children of wealthy/prominent people seem better and worthier than our own children.  (Well, my children are stuffed animals, so it goes without saying in my case.)

Every time I find out that someone is somebody else’s brother / sister / uncle / grandmother, I become just a little more cynical about this.  I like A. O. Scott’s movie reviews in the Times, for example – and now I find out he’s the nephew of Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.  Hmph!  Anderson Cooper I knew about.  I don’t begrudge him anything, he’s smart and cute and seems nice.  Chris Cuomo on ABC is a big harmless goofball of a journalist, but he’d be stuck behind a desk in Waukegan if he didn’t have that Cuomo name.

And now, hey ho, Bristol Palin is hoofing her way to heaven on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Bristol’s family’s fame is of recent vintage, to be sure.   Until very recently, the whole brood was stuck in an icebox up north.

Then lightning struck, and now all the Palins are celebrities.

I don’t care so much about Bristol Palin myself; I wouldn’t know her in a crowd if I tripped over her.  But she appears to be doing okay on “Dancing with the Stars,” although her dancing is mediocre at best.  Are people voting for her because they like her style, or because they feel good about the Palin dynasty?

Oh, hell, who cares?  Ultimately we stand or stumble on our own, whether or not Mom’s storm troopers vote for us.

And dynasties don’t last forever.

Usually no more than three or four hundred years, anyway.






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