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.



The gay Oreo


The Nabisco company recently put the above picture on their website, with the innocuous / sweet caption: “Proudly support love!”



And, naturally, the company was immediately attacked by bigots and conservatives.



On account of what? A double-double-double stuffed cookie? I would have thought that a cookie like this would sell like hotcakes in the Bible Belt. Especially with all those bright colors.



But – despite this redneck protest – more and more companies are showing their true (rainbow) colors, and good for them: Target, J. C. Penney, Starbucks. Even Cheerios!



But the bigots and the religious right are thrashing around in anger, and threatening boycott.



Let them thrash, brothers and sisters.



See, I figure, for every religious / conservative kook who decides to boycott one of the above companies (and there are many more gay-tolerant and gay-friendly companies than this, as you’ll see if you follow this link), there’s at least one gay person or gay-tolerant person who’s charmed and delighted by those companies’ bravery.



(And do you know what one of the main complaints on the (mostly tolerant) Internet is? It’s that these gigantically-stuffed cookies aren’t actually available for sale.)




I haven’t been to Starbucks in a while. I should pay them a visit.



Do you suppose they sell Oreos?



Pride 2012


Pride is with us again. (Notice we don’t say “Gay Pride Month” anymore. I’m good with that: pride is pride. If straight people want to march with us because they’re proud of being straight, that’s okay. It’s all about not being ashamed of how you were born.)

I love what’s happening in the celebritysphere. Some months ago, a hate group calling itself “One Million Moms” launched an attack on JCPenney, because they were using Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman. Horrible pervert! they said.  And JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, Krishna bless him, said:



“We stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that’s a great thing. Because she shares the same values that we do in our company. Our company was founded 110 years ago on The Golden Rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values that we share.” 



No kiddin’!



Next time you’re down at your local Social Security Office, ask them for a brochure, or a bookmark. You know who’ll be on it? Patty Duke and George Takei, bless them both. Patty is straight; George is (very publicly) gay, and married to his partner Brad. He’s all over Facebook and Tumblr, and he’s very funny, and no-nonsense.



And have you watched the Tonys lately? And seen Neil Patrick Harris? He rules Broadway, like Patti Lupone used to do.  And Neil is (surprise!) gay. And he is still capable of playing an oily womanizer on “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS every week, and a sweet shy straight supervillain in Joss Whedon’s “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”



We’re out there, people.



It’s June. It’s time for Pride.



We’re among you. We’re your kids and uncles and aunts and even (sometimes) parents. We’re your teachers and bosses and employees. We’re your congressmen and your constituents. There are a lot of us – probably more than you’d think. And, as the social barriers drop, more and more of us are going to stop hiding. Many of us already have.



But it’s taken us a while to get here.



Which is why, every June, we have a little parade or two, to reward ourselves.



And then maybe some disco music.

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