September 22, 2011 | by Kathi Wolfe
Time for Anderson Cooper to reveal his truth

I’ve never met the Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist and TV talk show host Anderson Cooper. Yet, he’s revealed so much about himself over the years, and especially on his new syndicated TV talk show “Anderson,” that I feel he and I (everyone in TV Land) could almost be his BFF.

We know that Cooper’s father died when he was 10; that his 23-year-old brother committed suicide in 1988; that Cooper’s dog is named Molly; that at age 11, he hung out with his mother Gloria Vanderbilt and Michael Jackson at Studio 54; and that, as Cooper told Sarah Jessica Parker when she was on his show, he believes his giggle is like that of a “13-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber for the first time.” This week, we watched Cooper and his mom on “Anderson” talk openly about the losses their family has suffered.

Yet, despite all of his up-close-and-personal revelations, Cooper, who along with hosting his new show, anchors the news program “Anderson Cooper 360″ on CNN and reports part-time for “60 Minutes” on CBS, still withholds the big reveal: his sexual orientation.

The likelihood that he’s gay is an open secret. In 2007 “Out” magazine named him one of the 50 “Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America.” The Washington Post has mentioned Cooper’s “undetermined sexuality.” Even my 84-year-old stepmother Jean, an avid Cooper fan, living in a small town outside the LGBT community and media buzz, seems in the know about Cooper’s queer quotient. “Anderson’s good looking and talented,” Jean told me over the telephone. “He’s gay, I like him!”

Still, Cooper remains closeted.  “I just don’t talk about my personal life,” he has told interviewers. “The whole thing about being a reporter is that you’re supposed to be an observer and to be able to adapt to any group you’re in, and I don’t want to do anything that threatens that.”

If Cooper were an actor, athlete, famous chef, musician or other type of celebrity, I wouldn’t call on him to disclose his sexual orientation.

It’s wonderful (and often brave) when entertainers, sports figures or others in the public eye come out. Even if they do so sometimes to get publicity. By coming out, they help straight folks get to know us and are role models for LGBT youth. But even as I watch the out lesbian Jane Lynch host the Emmys, I know that it’s often still far from easy, famous or not, to be open about being queer.

Yet people in the entertainment industry — whether in Hollywood, on Broadway or TV or in sports aren’t under an ethical obligation to come out. Their job is to entertain us. Through the work, they strive to amuse us, to move us, to engage us, to enthrall us. When we see their movies, go to their concerts, attend their ball games, or watch their TV shows, we expect these entertainers and athletes to put on a great show — to play a good game. We don’t expect them to report the truth about our world to us.

But truth-telling is what we expect from journalists. No matter the medium (print, TV, radio or the web), or whether the reporter is a “working” journalist or a celeb like Cooper, we look for journalists to report the facts. As the renowned columnist Walter Lippmann said, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth.”

As journalists, we prod our sources to reveal their true stories — even if this means revealing personal matters that sometimes aren’t comfortable to disclose. We strive to tell the truth about ourselves.

Because he is a journalist, Cooper has an ethical obligation to be open about his sexual orientation. As a reporter and interviewer, he works to break down secrecy and obfuscation.

Isn’t it time for Cooper to report the truth about himself?

15 Comments
  • I dispute your assertion that “…because he is a journalist, Cooper has an ethical obligation to be open about his sexual orientation. As a reporter and interviewer, he works to break down secrecy and obfuscation.” Quite frankly, it’s no one’s business much less yours. What if he were a colon cancer/medical reporter, would he be compelled to reveal the results of his most recent colonoscopy? HIV status? Whether he’s been exposed to HPV and has or has had anal warts? Think again.

  • If he said he don’t want to talk about his sexuality, then we as bystanders should let him be. Reporters are humans as well. Who cares if he is gay or not, he would be a handsome one in either way. I like and respect his works, daytime or prime time. And I think people who care about him enough to question him in public about his sexuality should at least give him the respect he deserves. It’s a thin line between curious and abnoxious.

  • I never understood the whole coming out of the closet thing. Why does anyone – famous or otherwise – have to announce their sexual orientation; It is none of our business. Anderson Cooper is a journalist who, just like me and you, has the right to keep his private life PRIVATE. He, and he alone, should decide what he does and does not share with the rest of the world.

  • My issue with Anderson is that he’s been so open about everything else in his life except being gay. He acts like he wants and needs a private life to be an effective journalist, but the only topic really off the table is his sexual orientation. I know more about Anderson than any other news anchor type person except Katie Couric and Barbara Walters. He’s always talking about his private life…except about being gay.

    I think the reason he needs to come out is because everyone should come out. There really is no reason for anyone to stay in the closet in America unless they’re in a situation where doing so could harm them. People like Anderson, by coming out, would set an example that being gay is OK and nothing to hide. By not coming out as gay, but having so many people know that he’s gay, only makes it seem like it’s a dirty secret, something to be ashamed of.

  • If you honestly believed journalists have an ethical obligation to be open about their sexual orientation you would be demanding all the other gay and lesbian people on news programs be open about their sexuality and outing all of them over it, not reserving this for Anderson Cooper the way it always is. What about people like Robin Roberts, Shepard Smith, and David Muir?

    Anderson Cooper isn’t lying, he is declining to give out some personal information in the media and on TV. If that’s not acceptable then it seems journalists are unethical if they decline to give out any number of personal things to the public such as who they vote for or whether they’ve had an abortion.

  • I hope he never comes out because of people like you. It’s harassment what people are doing to him. Has anyone ever made you proclaim you’re straight? It’s a HUGE double standard. Perhaps Mr. Cooper would rather not reveal he’s gay because he reports from dangerous places where being gay is NOT okay. You don’t know, and it’s none of your business. It’s not just outright bullying that’s a problem, it’s people like you that think you can force someone to be public when they don’t want to be. Think about that.

  • For decades we (the gay community) have been saying that the government (and by extension everyone else) should stay out of peoples bedrooms. Yet for some unknown reason, some members of that community are saying that WE should be allowed into Anderson Coopers bedroom. Why? If other people have no business knowing about our bedroom, we have no right to know about anyone else’s bedroom.

    Mr. Cooper is a public figure, but he should still have a choice. If he came out as heterosexual, you wouldn’t believe hime anyway. Only one answer is acceptable for the the gay community. When Mr. Cooper wishes to discuss his sexuality, he will let us know. In the interim, it’s really no one else’s business. That is, unless what happens in our bedrooms is everyone else’s business.

    • This is a brilliant comment and you are exactly right. Isn’t fairness and equality exactly what we’re fighting for? The right to make our own decisions and to keep our private lives private if we so choose? Anderson is being harassed IMO, and what sucks the most, is that it’s by our own community.

  • “Because he is a journalist, Cooper has an ethical obligation to be open about his sexual orientation.”

    Seriously? He has an “ETHICAL OBLIGATION” to tell you who he sleeps with? Does Cooper also have the moral duty to inform you of what positions he likes as well? The reporters aren’t the story – any journalist will tell you that.

  • Whats the big deal!

    As a straight woman it’s strange to me that straight people don’t have to come OUT of the closet and confess there gender preferences so why do gay people have to. If he’s a private person that is HIS business and no ones else.

  • Anderson’ sexuality has always been in question even though he’s “out” without ever proclaiming being “out.” I believe Anderson will reveal his sexuality in November. It seems rather strange people ar calling for him to come out when he already is, but I suppose people want that official “out” from Anderson and it will finally end the speculation and those who need to know will go with their lives.

  • No, I don’t think so. First, you presume to know Cooper’s truth. You don’t know his sexual preference unless he told you or you had sex with him. Even those are not always clear indicators as many people don’t understand or accept their own sexuality. You are also treating his decision whether to reveal it as one that belongs to the GLBT movement for social and legal recognition. It doesn’t. Sexuality is a personal matter. And if you think that when straight individuals are confronted with the knowledge that persons whom they know to be intelligent, accomplished and strong contributors to their communities are GLB or T, they will “see the light” you are wrong. Homophobia is not that rational. Many people reject others solely on the basis that their sexuality differs from their own. That’s how prejudice works. Now, there are some for whom that knowledge could be enlightening. But it’s not a risk I’d ask anyone to take- – -unless he or she chose to.

  • I had a similar viewpoint and was very vocal about my opinion on this matter when Sean Hayes was in the closet because I believed it was his responsibility as a public figure to be truthful about his sexuality so that he could influence others to proudly proclaim their own truth. But I empathize with Anderson’s reluctance even though I think that by remaining silent, he is sending a message that being gay is something to be ashamed of. He would be able to do so much good because of his far reaching influence if he was public about that part of himself. In the end, it is a personal choice but I believe the positives outweigh the negatives in this situation. I would love to be able to include him as a member of my team.

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