Famed veteran journalist Michelangelo Signorile Sunday joined Gail Shister, Eric Deggans on Howard Kurtz‘s CNN talk show, Reliable Sources, to discuss Anderson Cooper‘s “coming out quietly.” Signorile, who years ago made his career in part by outing anti-gay gays, says “suddenly,” a lot of people gay public closeted people recently have said, “not only would it be OK, it’s an embarrassment now, to be in the closet.”
Signorile points to his Huffington Post piece about “doing it low-key,” coming out without the usual fanfare.
Howard Kurtz asks Signorile the $64,000 question — the one the media keeps getting wrong (and shame on Kurtz for making this mistake too!): “Why should it be an embarrassment for somebody in the public life … to keep their sexual life private?”
Well, it’s not about their sexual life and certainly nobody’s talking about anything regarding sex and you know that you be the same way with heterosexuals. It’s about who you are, it’s about something so much a part of your core being, and people like Anderson, people like many of the other stars who’ve come out, they’ve been living their lives openly, among their colleagues, certainly in their social life, it just is the public that didn’t know, and I think for them that really starts to look like they’re hiding something and it became uncomfortable.
Being homosexual isn’t about sex any more than being heterosexual isn’t about sex.
Shister rightly adds that the reason all these closeted gay people, especially the ones in the public eye, all of a sudden find it “embarrassing” is because “they’re on the wrong side of history.”
I think that the trend is absolutely changing. We’re in the midst of a cultural sea change, in terms of same-sex marriage, don’t ask, don’t tell, it’s only a matter of time before it’s legalized all over the country. They just don’t want to be seen as completely out of touch with the mainstream.
Why are so any celebrities coming out so quietly? It’s because people were making a lot of noise about coming out, like me for example, 40 years ago, that we were the people — and Michael — that were breaking down the walls so that we would be at the point as a society where you can come out quietly. But if the walls hadn’t been broken very loudly first, we wouldn’t be in that position.
Eric Deggans added that most people assumed that Cooper was gay — but not everyone knew.
Kurtz does get one point extremely correct — and one I made a few months ago, which was highlighted by Buzzfeed last week — that Cooper was quickly losing credibility when discussing issues related to the LGBT community, like challenging why President Obama hadn’t come out in support of same-sex marriage earlier than he did. Kurtz says:
What sometimes made me a little bit uncomfortable, because Anderson has a segment on his show called “Keeping Them Honest,” and he has devoted a lot of time in this past ear to the issue of bullying of gays and you know I always thought well he was leaving out one pertinent fact. Maybe that was unfair of me but it did seem like it would be nice if he could acknowledge it, which he has now done.
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