Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
Indian playwright, screenwriter, dancer, director, and actor Mahesh Dattani is an important figure in South Asian gay culture by virtue of his recurrent depiction of queer characters.
Entertainer Josephine Baker achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.
American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.
San Francisco visual artist Jerome Caja is known for his small, sensuous combinations of found objects, which he painted with nail polish, makeup, and glitter, as well as for his drag performances.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
In an email to Andrew Sullivan, published on July 1, 2012, Anderson Cooper has confirmed the rumors. Although his homosexuality has been an open secret for many years, he has now come out officially. "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."
Sullivan and Cooper are long-time friends. In his Daily Dish column, Sullivan says that he was moved to write Cooper after reading a story in Entertainment Weekly last week about gay people in public life who come out in a matter-of-fact way.
"In many ways, it's a great development: we're evolved enough not to be gob-smacked when we find out someone's gay," Sullivan observes. "But it does matter nonetheless, it seems to me, that this is on the record. We still have pastors calling for the death of gay people, bullying incidents and suicides among gay kids, and one major political party dedicated to ending the basic civil right to marry the person you love."
When Sullivan asked him for his feedback on the subject, Cooper responded in a long email and gave Sullivan permission to publish it.
Cooper begins by explaining that he has attempted to maintain some level of privacy for both personal and professional reasons.
He says, "Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people's stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist."
He says a journalist's private issues should not affect his reporting. "As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn't matter. I've stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I've been directly asked 'the gay question,' which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn't set out to write about other aspects of my life."
But, Cooper continues, "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.
After disavowing any intention of becoming an activist, he declares forthrightly that he is gay, happy, proud, and that "I love, and I am loved."
He concludes by saying "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."
Cooper thus joins a handful of openly gay national television news anchors, commentators, and reporters. Among them are Thomas Roberts (MSNBC), Don Lemon (CNN), Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), Jason Bellini (CBS), Jonathan Capehart (MSNBC), John Yang (NBC), Jeffrey Kofman (ABC), Miguel Marquez (ABC), Manuel Gallegus (CBS), Steve Kmetko (E!), Richard Rodriguez (PBS), Jane Velez-Mitchell (CNN), and Dan Kloeffler (ABC), to say nothing of Pete Williams (NBC), who was outed in 1991 by Michelangelo Signorile, when Williams was a Pentagon spokesman charged with defending the ban on gays in the military. In addition, commentators such as Richard Socarides, Keith Boykin, David Mixner, Andrew Sullivan, Hillary Rosen, Wayne Besen, Dan Savage, and John Aravosis also frequently appear on various news channels.
The proliferation of openly gay journalists in newsrooms of the country has contributed palpably to the recent improvement in the representation of glbtq people by American news channels. News of the struggle for equal rights is now generally, if not invariably, presented straightforwardly and even sympathetically, sometimes by reporters and anchors who themselves identify as gay or lesbian and is often contextualized by gay commentators.
Welcome to the fold, Anderson Cooper!
In the video below, Cooper interviews a member of the congregation of a bigoted pastor.