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Anderson Cooper: Reluctant Role Model?

 

We typically like to ease into the morning, not dive headlong into a hot topic but this one is making headlines so let’s begin here.  First, let me say this is not about being gay or straight (I don’t care) or my personal beliefs on homosexuality (you can read them here) or yours (talk to yourself); this is about something Anderson Cooper said recently.

“The fact is, I’m gay…..” And those words that rippled like a pebble in a pond. But did he have to say anything at all?

I know Anderson, have done his daytime talk show several times and truly like him as a person. I think this news, if we can even call it that, will be met with, “Yeah and so..” for a couple of reasons. I think most people were aware he was gay but that he chose not to talk about it. And personally, I think he has a right to live his life how he sees fit. I know what it’s like to have a public profile and want to keep at least part of your personal life, well, personal.

I’ve had discussions like this before on my Facebook page and in the past my take was then that not everyone is called to be an activist, and you should be forced into that role. I’m not carrying the flag for every straight, black, mother of two so why does Anderson have to carry it for every gay person with a public job?

But there are people like my friend Jim Walker (who is out and proud and has admittedly been out and proud since the day he was born) who didn’t mince words in giving their take on the situation.

“Well how nice for him to finally decide to go on the record with this when he is at the top of his career and is not likely to face any harm. Never mind all of us who have been out in our jobs from day one without the support and privilege of an incredibly wealthy family.”

When I read that, I thought, “Come on now, Jim. Anderson doesn’t have to do this for anyone but himself.” And there is a part of me that still feels that way. But then my friend Andrea alerted me to this piece in the Huffington post in which the author points that out not every gay child is growing up in the more tolerant environs of New York or LA. So, now I’m torn between my initial position and that of two gay friends.

Okay look, I know the suicide rate among young gays and lesbians is off the charts and something has to be done.  I know how important it is for young gays and lesbians to have role models; hell I know how important it is to have all kinds of visible role models (remember this piece). And while I can see both sides of this argument, I still come down on the side of it’s no one’s damn business but Anderson’s. Being a public figure doesn’t mean you have to carry the mantle for every cause people think you should. You should carry the mantle for the causes you want to, because you want to and they are important to you, not because of the extraneous noise. Anderson should live his life the way he sees fit; heck maybe he didn’t come out for so long because he knew there would be no pleasing everyone.

Personally I can’t wait until this is a non-issue; we’ll know we’ve reached true equality when tongues stop wagging and the pissed off Facebook posts cease. But in the meantime, it would be nice to see people practice the tolerance they want and have a right to expect from others. Let’s let Anderson live his life as he sees fit and do what he does best, report the news, then go home to the man he loves.

That’s my take.. what about you guys? Do you think Anderson Cooper had to come out at all? Does he have to carry the weight of every gay person simply because he’s gay?

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