Some of us may have heard the news of Anderson Cooper coming out and thought, “Well, duh…” or maybe “Finally.” or even, “Is there anybody left who didn’t know?” Well, yes, there are. And more than that, there are people who are invested in us never knowing. But he defied them. And he gives sound reasoning and describes his fears and explains how it’s an unjust thing to have to disclose a private matter. And all of that is necessary for us to hear.
However, Anderson Cooper coming out is important because in our culture, everyone is presumed straight until proven different- and that must change. This is how that happens. This is a great conversation to have with teens of all orientations and genders. Ask them what they think. Ask them if they understand what position celebrities are in? See what they know about the ‘professional’ closet.
We don’t look at people and assume that their sexual orientation is unknown unless they tell us. We look at people and assume that they are heterosexual. Heterosexuality is everywhere to the point of invisibility. Until all of a sudden it isn’t. Until we start to see how these celebrities have to craft an image of social acceptability. So while you may be nonplussed about Anderson Cooper, take the time to ask your teen about today’s news. Are they talking about Tom and Katie’s divorce? Do they understand that this is Tom’s third “failed” marriage? Do they undersand why Katie would file for divorce in New York as opposed to California?
These are all ways to check in with your young adult’s too see where they are at in understanding how sexuality and identity work in the real world. And as always, don’t lecture, just keep asking questions.