Anderson Cooper’s Coming Out and What It Means for His TV Viewers (ANALYSIS)

Jim Parsons Comes Out
The 'Big Bang Theory' actor makes quiet declaration.
Anderson Cooper: I'm Gay
The journalist comes out.
Many of you probably arrived to work on Monday and heard a buzz surrounding Anderson Cooper. The CNN journalist and syndicated daytime talk show host declared to his friend and The Daily Beast writer Andrew Sullivan, “The fact is, I’m gay.”

Cooper, who’s very used to breaking news, was suddenly the news. But, to those of us who follow his career, the various entertainment outlets’ not-so-subtle “outing” stories on him or have even a smidge of what some call “gaydar,” it was both news and non-news at the same time.

“You almost had to be living under a rock to not know that Anderson Cooper is gay, so this not a big deal to most people,” media blog founder and editor Jim Romenesko tells Celebuzz. “I see on my Facebook wall that people are reacting with a shrug. Things have changed so much since Ellen [DeGeneres] appeared on Time magazine, then blamed her career dive on coming out.”

It’s true. Celebrity coming outs across the board don’t have the media punch they once had in our society and they don’t have to be done via splashy magazine cover stories anymore – as Cooper, Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons and Heroes actor Zachary Quinto’s “coming outs” have shown. In fact, it was an Entertainment Weekly article on just that subject that prompted Sullivan to reach out to Cooper in the first place.

And what does Cooper’s timing say about his intentions?

“What I found interesting was the way he came out — the friendly confines of Andrew Sullivan’s blog,” Romenesko says. “Also, I noticed that he waited until Gay Pride Month [June] was over before making the announcement. I read that as Cooper saying: I don’t want to make a splash; I just want to say it and move on.”

TV Guide Magazine’s senior writer Damian Holbrook humorously weighed in on Cooper’s timing, as well. “Come on, every gay worth his weight in Prada knows that it’s just too cliché to come out during Pride,” he jokingly tells us.

On a more serious note, Holbrook defends Cooper’s timing from his critics. “There will always be people who have something to say about when someone of note comes out,” he says.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s not their call: Anderson came out when he decided it was right, and it should be every LGBT person’s right to choose their own timing,” he continues. “I am sure a ton of thought and consideration went into his announcement, and I am glad he was able to do it on his own terms and with the class we have come to expect from him.” senior writer and former staff writer at Gawker, Brian Moylan, who has written several articles about Cooper over his career, also weighs in on the newsman’s timing, “I think that the continued media scrutiny of his personal life more or less forced him out and I’m glad he finally did the right thing.”

“I can only speculate as to why he chose right now,” Senior writer for The Atlantic Wire, Richard Lawson, weighs in. “But, my guess would be that he was just exhausted by all the negative blowback.”

And in this modern, more low-key world of celebrity coming outs, the media experts we spoke to see very little fallout from Cooper’s decision unlike the era in which DeGeneres stepped out of the closet.

“While I’m sure there are people in existence who didn’t know Anderson Cooper is gay,” Kate Aurthur, West Coast editor of The Daily Beast/Newsweek, which broke the story, tells Celebuzz. “I find it hard to imagine that those people, if they ever were his fans or watch his CNN broadcast, will be affected by his coming out— or that’s what I’d like to think anyway.”

Lawson, who wrote a reaction piece after the news broke, tells us, “I doubt many people will view him differently. His longtime guardedness about his personal life has probably inured people to the fact that the topic is generally off limits, either way. Journalistic integrity-wise, I don’t see it changing much of anything. He’ll probably get a little bump in approval in the wake of the news, but I think those who like and respect him will continue to do so, and those that don’t still won’t.”

That doesn’t mean the silver fox’s quiet declaration isn’t significant for his career or that it holds no meaning for his TV audience. Several of the media experts we spoke to feel that the decision most likely represents a new chapter for his TV career and his viewing audience.

“This might improve his on-air persona, make him more relaxed,” Romenesko says. “He doesn’t have to worry if Gawker got another photo of him biking with his boyfriend in SoHo.”

Aurthur agrees, “I feel like his new freedom could open things up for him; he’s always stopped short of talking about his romantic life even while he’s discussed deeply personal issues, such as his brother’s suicide. It’s hard to imagine, though, that Cooper will pivot into constantly discussing personal things; after all, as he pointed out to Andrew Sullivan, he is a real reporter, and that’s where his interests lie. But I think we’ll all be relieved that when he covers or talks about topics of interest to the LGBT community— whether that’s Real Housewives or gay teen suicide— that there isn’t a distracting elephant in the room.”

Additional reporting by Rachel Levy.

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