Here's the short version of the story: Recently, Anderson Cooper, celebrated journalist, came out of the closet as gay. He'd previously been in the closet because he didn't want his personal life to interfere with his professional life, and he came out by giving a friend of his permission to publish an email in which he explained his reasoning, both for why he was in the closet and why he came out. The best part of the letter, in the middle, is this:
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. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.
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.
My favorite part of that section is the bold quote, "The tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible." That part, that issue, is a big deal to me, because we talk a lot about peoples' right to privacy, their right to conceal. But in some troublingly mainstream venues, we don't talk at all about peoples' right to disclose -- to be honest about who they are, without fear of persecution or attack. I wrote a post about that issue last year, which led to a few arguments with my friends. People seem very committed to framing privacy as either good or bad.
The letter ends,
I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.
I like Anderson's coming out letter because it's a step forward in LGBT acceptance, and love it because it's a step forward in establishing a more complex, progressive and optimistic narrative of privacy.