Anderson Cooper sacrifices privacy to stand for equality
He has traveled to the war zones of Afghanistan, been attacked in the Egyptian riots and carried children to safety in Haiti, but last Sunday, Anderson Cooper visited a place he had never intentionally been before: the public eye.
In a well-written, thoughtful and engaging email, Cooper revealed that he is gay.
"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," he wrote to longtime friend and "Daily Beast" columnist Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan had asked for Cooper’s response to an "Entertainment Weekly" piece that spoke of the positivity that can come from a celebrity being open about their sexuality. In his email, Cooper acknowledged his sexuality and also revealed why he hadn’t done so earlier.
"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."
But the 45-year-old host of "Anderson Cooper 360" and the daytime talk show "Anderson" said he had come around to realize the importance of going public.
"I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible…I believe there is value in making clear where I stand."
While other gay celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell have found themselves in activist roles in the LGBT movement, Cooper says that, despite his announcement, he has no intention of living a life of activism.
"In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don't give that up by being a journalist."
In 2006, Cooper penned a memoir titled "Dispatches from the Edge," and says he did not share the details of his personal life because the book was intended to be about conflict in the world.
"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."
Recognizing that his silence had left critics with a blank canvas to fill in with their opinions, Cooper says he believes he was creating the wrong impression by not speaking out.
"It’s become clear to me that 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."
An advocate in the fight against bullying, Cooper also believes his voice can make a difference in helping to eliminate the bigotry that exists in today’s youth circles.
"There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand… I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy."
Cooper concluded by making clear that being a gay human being in a world that has not always been welcoming of it, has not deterred him from living a happy, successful and rewarding life.
"In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life.
"I love, and I am loved."