Things have changed. Sometimes it may not feel like they have, but they have. If the kind of diversity embrace Anderson Cooper is feeling today had existed back in 1992/93, I could've shared my truth on TV and felt safe. If it had existed in 1984, WISN TV would've paid for Dave Kopay's plane ticket. OK. Anderson Cooper's news may have been met with -- as Claude Rains says in Casablanca -- "I'm shocked, SHOCKED..." by some. If he was in a closet, he was in there to get a new blue shirt and some shoes. The door was definitely open. But this could mean less fear for gays and lesbians in the future in areas of the media that have not been so liberal. Just like Max Robinson broke the network anchor color wall in the 1980s, we might see a gay or lesbian journalist anchor the network evening news in the future on ABC, NBC or CBS. That a possibility Cooper's announcement presents.
I did a movie review segment with Anderson Cooper live on CNN in 2002. About 6-8 minutes. I had a fabulous time with him. I used to eat just about every day at the Eros Diner in Chelsea, right next door to my apartment. Anderson came in frequently. I said "Hello" to him a lot. He said "Hello" back never look up from his newspaper when he did. And he was often seated right next to me. He never recognized me -- even though I'm positive I'm the only gay black man who sat next to him on live TV to talk about Jodie Foster movies. This always made the Greek diner staff laugh because I'd sit there with a Kathy Griffin expression on my face like I was about to say "Cooper! Do you only look at black people when they're next to a FEMA trailer? Hello!!! Look at me and say 'Hi!' dammit!" Seriously. I could've been next to him in nothing but a thong and jackboots with a ferret on my head and he would not have noticed. And, as Kathy Griffin might say, "Bitch! Ya waited until after Pride Month was over and then you break the news!?!?!? You coulda been a Grand Marshal in a parade!!"
But he's a nice guy. An excellent journalist. And he did something many didn't feel free enough to do 20 years ago. Especially those with network jobs and high profiles. We've come a long way. All the best to him. We snarky, slightly jaded big city types are not surprised at his news. But it is a surprise to millions of other people, believe me. When I was a kid, we didn't have openly gay people on TV to look up to and make us dream bigger. Anderson Cooper's step forward today is relevant to and important for gay youth in America. Let's give him credit for that. Bravo, Anderson Cooper. (Even though you don't recognize me.)