Tuesday, 3 July 2012

He reads the news! He's gay! OMFG!

You've probably never heard of Anderson Cooper. He's an American journalist and news anchor. Chiselled. Silver hair. Doesn't rant much.

Yesterday, he was 'outed' by Brian Moylan, who seems to have been fixated by Cooper's sexuality for years, as his account described.

The odd thing is that Anderson Cooper appears to have been 'out' for years, perhaps decades. As Moylan's article makes clear, Cooper appeared as a couple with his male partner at all sorts of social events, frequented gay gyms and generally got on with his life. Additionally, Moylan has written numerous articles telling the world (well, his readers), that ANDERSON COOPER IS GAY. As though it was anybody's business. In fact, the only people to whom Anderson Cooper wasn't 'out', are those viewers who don't spend their lives wondering what particular stimuli excite Mr. Cooper's gentleman's area.

Which is exactly as it should be. Anderson Cooper isn't the news. His sexuality doesn't determine what's news and how he reports it. I don't preface my lectures with 'Here's a fat boring (they assume this bit anyway) heterosexual's perspective on trochees and spondees', Kirsty Wark doesn't have to warn viewers that they should take her genes into account ('And now the news… in a kilt'). While there are plenty of intellectual arguments about identity and the ways in which our orientations influence us, reading out the news doesn't seem to be a prime example of the way in which sexuality does or doesn't define us. Cooper shouldn't have to overtly or covertly tell the viewers that his understanding of the LIBOR scandal or an earthquake is informed by the fact that he's a big old gay: 'Here's the Gay News… and over to Chuck for a straight's perspective on the famine. Chuck?'.

I distrust most major news media because the system is compromised by capitalism and conservative hegemony. Because they're under assault by PR and marketing executives. Because they're underresourced. Because they keep hacking into people's phones. Because they distort science and valorise speed over accuracy and evaluation. Because they prefer power to accountability. Not because the author or presenter is a friend of Dorothy.

I'm glad there are prominent gay people out there proving - and it's sad this is still necessary - that homosexuality, holding down a job and being happy are compatible, but I don't see why anybody should be forced to become a role model, particularly for one facet of their identity. It's reductive: Cooper's journalism qualifies him as a role model. I don't really believe in role models anyway. It's just pompous Daily Mail-style bullying. Anderson Cooper doesn't seem to have been a self-hating hypocritical McCarthy or advocating self-repression.

That is all.

No comments: