Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I dissent from the chorus of approval that has greeted Anderson Cooper’s announcement about his sexual orientation.  In the present context, this statement is tardy and self-serving.  I find in it no acknowledgement of the pioneering role of such figures as Harry Hay, Dorr Legg, Phyllis Lyon, Dell Martin, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and other brave souls who endured obloquy and in many cases outright poverty, so that privileged closet cases like Anderson Cooper could enjoy cosseted and very well-paid lives. Earlier his statement might have meant something, but not now.

In his email to Andrew Sullivan, Cooper offered several explanations, which I find inadequate.

"Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist."

This may have been true at one time, but Cooper doesn't do much traveling to dangerous places noways.  Further:

"I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn't set out to write about other aspects of my life."

I call bullshit.

For a similar response, more diplomatically expressed, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/opinion/a-closet-by-another-name.html


Anonymous Thomas Kraemer said...

Amen. The most charitable view is that even if Cooper was exposed to gay history before (which is very likely), then Cooper doesn't understand gay history. I've been tricking (pardon the unintended pun) young college students into reading OutHistory.org by pointing them to the picture of naked college boys running though their campus in 1975. It never ceases to amaze me when they come back to me and make comments that prove they not only looked at the eye candy, but they have actually learned some history. One boy's first comment to me was "I can't believe they equated us with sex perverts," in reference to a pamphlet that Oregon legislators gave parents to address the communist homosexual panic fanned by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. To this boy, the gay characters in the MTV "Real World" pseudo-documentary are ancient news and his age group mostly sees the gay world through the lens of the internet. Jonathon Ned Katz was very insightful 4 decades ago to recognize that gay kids rarely have family members who can share their minority history with them, unlike most other minority children. On top of that AIDS wiped out many elders that could share their experience. Passing on gay history is an important job for today's gay activists today (does anybody admit to being one anymore?) Anderson Cooper is a good example of why it must be done.

3:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home