Anderson Cooper did a segment on the murder of Lawrence King on his CNN show the other night that has been making the rounds of the blogs. (Here it is for instance on JoeMyGod’s excellent site.) As these things go it’s pretty good, especially as face-time is given to a female classmate and friend of King’s, who speaks most eloquently of the horrors he faced. Plus there’s a brief, quite interesting, clip of a concerned parent talking in general terms about bullying in school ad the fact that more needs to be done to make kids safe. But over and above all looms the structuring absence (as Roland Barthes would say) of Anderson Cooper himself.
Anderson Cooper is gay.
Everybody knows this. But it’s absolutely verboten to mention it.
Last year I wrote a rather lighthearted op-ed for for the Los Angeles Times on Cooper’s rising star status. But I was expressly forbidden for even so much as alluding to his gayness via the well-known Seinfeld catch phrase “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” And there wasn’t “anything wrong with that” prior to Cooper’s CNN ascendancy. Now there is. Even though he can be found at the better gay gyms and trendier gay nightspots, we’re not supposed to see him.
Or his boyfriend.
For Anderson Cooper, unlike Lawrence King, falls into that most desired of categories Straight-acting/ Straight-appearing
Cool, calm and collected, Anderson Cooper never draws attention to himself in ways that would shed light on his sexual orientation. (Even though you don’t need “Gaydar” to guess.)
In other words he watches his pronouns. And a great deal more.
Anderson Cooper has put his life at risk in ther course of his job, travelling to such fraught far-flung corners of the globe as Darfur and post-Katrina New Orleans. He’s far from a coward on that score. Yet there is one subject on which Cooper remains deathly afraid. The fact of being gay.
You can see it in his face in the above-linked report. How wonderful it would be for Anderson Cooper to speak of his life as a gay man as easily as he speaks of the suicide of his emotionally-troubled brother.
That’s an acceptable subject.
Gayness is, as the KAPOs so love to say “his personal life.”
And I am down to my last nerve.