Anderson Cooper on the Importance of Coming Out

Anderson Cooper in front of rubble from an innocent building destroyed by his terrible gayness.

Anderson Cooper came out today in a poignant piece on Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

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.

Read the whole thing.

PZ understandably does not like an obligatory bit in which Cooper talks about love as one of “God’s greatest gifts”. If you don’t know why that might bother some atheists, check out Natalie Reed’s “God Does Not Love Trans People” and Greta Christina on being an atheist in the queer community.

Me? I’m okay with gay-friendly interpretations of religions. But
I think it is better when the religious learn from the gays. But that does not mean we should whitewash Jesus. Nor should we let the moderates get away with claiming that the Bible is not at all a morally problematic book as long as you read it the right way.

If they are still going to claim biblical literalism, just not in the ugly hypocritical fundamentalist way (which of course is not the only way to interpret the religion) then they still should be held to task for trying to claim that the literal Bible is the true Word of a true and good God when it is filled with counter-evidence on that point. “Progressive” interpretations of the Old Testament are inadequate for rationalizing away its moral atrocities. It’s one thing to argue the Bible is not divine or literally to be believed at all and that Christianity or theism can be something else and more honest than biblicism. But to try to say that it is an especially good moral guide either as written or as “read correctly”? That’s just too far a stretch.

For example, in a debate with me recently, Marta Layton tried to justify Leviticus 20:13 (which calls for killing men who lie with other men for it is an abomination to do that) by claiming that it was just meant to condemn Canaanite temple prostitution and not at all homosexuality. Here was my reply:

If you were an omniscient and omnibenevolent God would you leave the issue of your endorsement of the full moral and legal dignity of gay people this hard to figure out if you wrote a book? Would you not make clear when you’re just referring to the Canaanite practices? (And, by the way, would you order a genocide against them just for not worshipping you when they have no chance to do so even. Or, even if they did have a chance!) If you were Jesus and the Son of God wouldn’t you have come down to tell us to stop being sexist, homophobic, and racist? Rather than threaten people with hell and tell people (with no exception for spousal abuse) that they cannot get divorced? Would you if you were the Son of God tell women that if they are divorced by their husbands they can never marry again? Would you establish a theocracy in the Old Testament and teach that only through your Son can you go to heaven in the New Testament?

I could go on and on here. Apply your values and tell me, are these alleged actions proof of a genuinely omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God who writes books? Or “inspires” them so incompetently that people wind up with the exact opposite ideas about good and evil from what you know to be true?

Read Marta’s further reply and more discussion between us in our full debate.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • baal

    I’m going to have to up my gay quotient. I need the superpower to destroy buildings!

    I’m ok with him coming out atheist later (assuming he may be there already but wants to stay employed or something).

  • mikespeir

    PZ understandably does not like an obligatory bit in which Cooper talks about love as one of “God’s greatest gifts”

    My main problem with belief in God or gods is the evil it too often incites. When it ceases inciting evil in that way, though I may personally still not see any reason to believe, my reservations about it will drop dramatically.

  • Robert B.

    Good for him! (And while it never occurred to me to wonder before, I find myself quite unsurprised by the news. My gaydar has 20/20 hindsight, apparently.)

    And I, too, wish that gayness were some kind of beam weapon. Then gay marriage could at least destroy traditional marriage venues.


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