You learn a lot of things when you move to New York: its nearly impossible to take a subway cross-town, it’s SO not cool to go into Times Square, and Anderson Cooper is gay! (Well, he might not publicly say that, but if you’ve been in the Village more than five times, you’ve probably run into him and his boyfriend at least once.) What’s so shocking about this last piece of the NYC learning curve is HOW UNKNOWN Anderson Cooper’s private life is outside of New York City (with possible exception for gossipy towns like LA). Ask people in the middle of the country about Mr. Cooper’s sex life, and I’d bet the farm that you won’t hear about his “alleged” homosexuality. I tried this once on my grandmother – who lives in Louisiana – and I got the funniest response: “He’s gay? No, no, no, you’re wrong. He’s a Vanderbilt!” (Which is true, but I still fail to see how the two are mutually exclusive.)
Now, I bring all of this up because I got into a big argument with one of my suitemates recently about Cooper’s closeted-ness, sparked by this interview of Kathy Griffin in the DC Agenda. Towards the end of the article, Griffin is asked about the extent to which CNN censors her jokes with regard to Cooper’s sexuality. She evasively answers by saying that she won’t go into his private life. My suitemate defends this, but I really wish that Griffin would go into his private life.
It’s not that I endorse dragging people out of the closet: I think that’s a horrible thing to do. However, I wish Griffin (or SOMEONE!) would have a conversation with Anderson Cooper about HOW MUCH GOOD he would do for the LGBTQ community if he’d come out to his wider American audience. Cooper is a balls-out hero in a variety of ways: he did the best job of holding the Bush administration accountable for its disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, he taught the non-believers about the reality of our “Planet in Peril,” and most recently he’s helping us keep focus on our brothers and sisters in Haiti. When Cooper reports on an issue, people listen. And I believe that his authority as an objective observer would translate amazingly if he became an out advocate for LGBTQ issues.
But that’s just my schpeel. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please post any agreements or disagreements, and let me know if you think I’m totally off the wall on this one.