The coming out of Anderson Cooper and his acknowledgment of being gay, brought about the debate over sexual orientation and the perception surrounding same-sex issues in America. Mr. Cooper gave his friend Andrew Sullivan, a columnist for the Daily Beast, authorization to reprint an e-mail where he admitted his orientation as being gay, his pride and happiness to be so.
Days after the news broke, comments poured in as to why it took him so long to come out. While there is no indication the development will have any adverse effect on his fans base, some have started forming opinions as to the negativity surrounding such announcement and how it may affect his position as a well-known CNN news anchor.
Whenever there is a revelation concerning a celebrity’s sexual orientation, there is always a public outcry when inevitable questions are raised as to what should be a private matter. The fact that a celebrity is considered a public person, has made many to accept as tradition that once you’re a celebrity, your private issues must also become a matter for the society to scrutinize.
The question, why do we really care about such issues? Isn’t it time to accept that being gay or lesbian is no longer a big deal in America, just as is not in some parts of the world where it has been legalized. While people are free to express their opinions and the right to individual sexual preference, should such be allowed to trump other people’s beliefs and their right to be whatever they want?
There is no medically sound proof showing that being gay is a disease, an infirmity of the brain, or hallucination, which makes gays and lesbians Choose their orientation. There is also no indication or recognized study to show gays, lesbians, and transgender are of unsound mind which could reasonably be deemed responsible for having such orientation. There is a “Kill The Gays” bill under debate in Rwanda and just months ago, four gay men were sentenced to death by hanging in Iran. The question, should people die because of their sexual orientation?
In the United States, gays still face discrimination and gay issues have become politicized. Many want their personal belief imposed on others irrespective of whether it is reasonable or not. Conservative Christians say being gay is absolutely ungodly and a taboo. Liberal Christians advocate for gay marriage and want it legalized, while some in the society believe gays should be isolated and ostracized from among us. But isn’t it fair to conclude gays and lesbians are excluded from the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment? Or should gay and lesbian controversy be politicized, rather than being accepted as a civil rights issue?
The fact that Mr. Cooper came out is another confirmation being gay anywhere in the world, is not a limitation to ambitions and aspirations. It does not limit how successful one can be or what Can be achieved. Mr. Cooper is a successful journalist and the fact he declared himself gay, should not change opinion or perception of who he is. Gays are human except for the difference in orientation so, why make it an issue whenever a celebrity decides to open up?
Gay issues will continue to be a matter for debate and part of American political discourse, as long as Congress lacks the political will to find closure, based on equal protection grounds.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E.JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations; follow on Twitter @san0670.