With Anderson Cooper having now put all the speculation to rest with his coming out as gay man, comedian and ACBFF Kathy Griffin writes a thoughtful and intelligent post in the Daily Beast to remind us as a community, we still have a ways to go:
The reality is that despite the very real, the very necessary, and the very life-changing progress we have made in this country in treating people across the sexual orientation spectrum with dignity and respect, America—the world—is not fully represented by Chelsea in New York City. It’s not fully represented by DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C.; the Castro; or West Hollywood. Hell, it’s not even Ft. Lauderdale and its Wilton Manors or Denver’s Capital Hill neighborhood. America is, in large part, small towns like Oxnard, Calif. It’s Sevierville, Tenn. It’s Laramie, Wyo. And it’s Wichita, Kan., where I was eating recently at a local diner and a patron asked me, “Kathy, how do you deal with so many goddamned fags?”
Many of my young gays don’t know about Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” initiative, which was developed with the help of some extremist American evangelicals. Many don’t know about Stonewall or, more recently, the importance of Lawrence v. Texas. They don’t know about Cuba’s jailing of HIV patients or even that Iran has sentenced gay teenagers to death by hanging. They don’t know that in large portions of Baghdad, honest LGBT folks are hunted and summarily executed by roving bands of so-called morality police, who kill with impunity both the “out” and those simply perceived to be gay. What many young people do know is what they read in short bursts on celebrity Twitter posts or on TMZ. And what they read and see is how freeing being honest can be. What they don’t see is that it remains, in many places, very dangerous to do just that. And that dichotomy is deeply troubling to me. “Kathy Griffin: I Would Never Have Dreamed of Outing Anderson Cooper”; The Daily Beast; July 2.
While we bask in the glee of welcoming one more to the ranks, we need to take heed Griffin’s words. While we are making great strides toward advancing equality for all LGBT people, we need to remember that we still have work to do in our own country and when that work is done, we will still have much work to do outside of it.
I often think to myself, after equality comes to America, what about the world? How will we as LGBT American’s who have gained our full rights and acceptance work to ensure that equality goes global. My hope is that with the pace of growing LGBT acceptance we see here that it will help to accelerate that acceptance around the world. But we shouldn’t forget that when the fight ends on our soil, there will still be much work to do.
With Cooper’s coming out, that hope grows a wee bit brighter. While his announcement may not change hearts and minds on a global scale, it will provide another face that makes people re-examine their “goddamn fags” mentality. It will help people re-examine their own prejudices and stereotypes of what it is to be a gay person. It will help to make erasing phobias, fears and outright hate a little bit easier in this country, so that one day, we can take our equality work global.