“Anderson Cooper admits he’s gay, from Inside Edition.” That was the text message which woke me up this morning. It was from our channel manager who was monitoring the international news programs.
Going to the office and online, I saw that the community was a-buzz with the news. Gay people were lauding him for coming out, as well as cracking jokes about it. After all, Anderson is one of those high profile celebrities who’ve always been on the Merely-Lacking-An-Official-Statement gay list.
And I laud his reason for coming out (below are excerpts from his reply to a blogger-friend of his, which he has allowed to be posted online):
Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. 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.
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.
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.
I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. 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.
* * * * *
On this same morning, my officemate Gigi (all names henceforth have been changed to protect their identities) came up to me and said, with bated breath, “Have you heard the latest about Toto?”
Toto was this ex-officemate of ours who resigned a month ago. His stay was short in the office; most of his colleagues found him weird and difficult to understand. In my few encounters with him, I realized that his mind actually zips faster than his mouth. Worse, he also allows himself to be distracted by the myriad things running through his mind. He just needs someone to force him to focus during meetings. However not everyone has the patience, and so after several months, he was asked to resign. Everyone was mostly glad he left.
“So what’s the latest?” I asked.
Gigi said, “So when he turned over everything--his files, his laptop--there was a DVD that was left in the disc drive of his computer.”
“What was it?” I asked.
“Teh, M2M!” she exclaimed.
That caught me off-guard. Never had I imagined Toto to be gay. He was a smallish man with a fidgety demeanor, like a rat that’s always sniffing around for food. He spoke rapidly, often jumping from topic to topic without any warning or transition. He never spoke of personal stuff, not that anyone bothered to get to know him more. In fact, people avoided talking to him as much as possible. He never really made any friends, so it was easy for everyone to make fun of him. Including me.
“OMG!” I exclaimed. “If that’s true, I think the community will not want him in, hahahaha!”
“Oo nga,” Gigi agreed. “At sinabayan pa niya si Anderson. Ikaw, did you have any inkling with Toto?”
“Did I even care?” I retorted, and we both laughed.
* * * * *
How cruel, that was my afterthought. After Gigi left and I went into my room, I realized that for every clean-cut, role-model-y Anderson or Neil Patrick, there’s an Andrew Cunanan who is also one of us. He need not be as murderous as Cunanan; indeed, he can be just a Toto, weird and misunderstood and just a little too peculiar to belong and be lovable.
But that’s the price we pay for coming out. It would be naive to expect our gay examples to be all role models. People need to see that there are many, many different colors of the gay rainbow, and some of those colors aren’t pretty. Some can even be downright ugly. But that’s the truth. Because the big reveal, the big idea here is simple: homosexuals are just as fabulous and as fucked up as heterosexuals. So get off your high horses and stop discriminating. Be tolerant.
That also goes to me and Gigi, with the Totos of this world.