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4 Apr 2007

US gay magazine outs "glass-closet" stars

A popular US gay magazine has attracted controversy by outing several semi-closeted celebrities in a cover story in its May issue.

"Appearing" on the cover of the May issue of Out (expected to hit on newsstands Apr. 17) are CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and actress Jodie Foster. Or rather models being photographed holding up masks of the celebrities' faces.

Cooper and Foster, who have not publicly identified themselves as gay, are ranked numbers 2 and 43 respectively on Out's list of "The 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Lesbians in America."

Cooper, 40, is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and writer who anchors Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN.

On the Internet, one can easily find out that 44-year-old Foster has been in a relationship with her long-term partner Cydney Bernard since they met on the set of 1993's Sommersby. The couple has two sons aged 8 and 5.

Topping the list is billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen while Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, philanthropist Tim Gill, and Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank occupy the top positions. Others on the list include gossip blogger Perez Hilton (#17), interior decorator Nate Berkus (#24) who frequently appears on Oprah, and X-men and Superman Returns director Bryan Singer (#32).

In the same edition, well-known gay writer Michael Musto writes the cover story titled "The Glass Closet: Why Stars Won't Come Out And Play" in which he examines the lives of semi-closeted celebrities who are said to be living in the "glass closet" where they neither refute speculations nor confirm their sexual orientation when asked.

Says Musto: "It's true that stars are free to put up whatever walls they want in order to maintain boundaries with the public. But even at their most controlling, straight stars never seem to leave out the fact that they're straight in interviews. Whenever a subject tells me, 'I won't discuss who I'm dating' or 'I resent labels,' I generally know not so much that they're passionate about privacy but that they're gay gay, gay."

Out editor in chief Aaron Hicklin has denied the list as being merely an attempt to stir up controversy.

He was quoted by radaronline.com: "It's a bit of chutzpah [Yiddish term for courage bordering on arrogance] on our part. The A-list and even B-list gays are mostly in the closet still, and those are the kinds of people we need to have on our cover. This is a way of addressing that."

Many have criticised the magazine's decision to out people without their explicit consent.

A reader wrote on gay blog towleroad.com: "This Out list is unjournalistic, criminal, and downright shameful!! – And please, don't tell me how it's "not shameful to be gay" – this has absolutely nothing to do with it: Gossip are journalism are not intercheangable, nor they should never be. A magazine wishing to be taken seriously in the community cannot get away with establishing a list of powerful LGBT people through relying on trash gossip tactics."

Hicklin however has his flame guard up: "We expect some flak for daring to create a list like this. But it's a mark of real progress that the vast majority of men and women who made our Power 50 have attained their positions without feeling the need to hide their sexuality to do so. We took the task very seriously. We wanted the list to reflect, as accurately as possible, the standing of the people on it." He was quoted as saying on Queerty.com.

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-04-04 19:57  
Let me be the first to comment:

I love love Anderson Cooper to be gay.
Handsome, smart, and eloquent.

Also known as a good package that is not out in stores yet.

(Whisper: he is the reason to watch CNN although the channel has very good coverage of international news.)
2. 2007-04-04 20:06  
So its wrong to gossip, so Fridae also broadcasts the story? Urrrr ummm? Hypocracy?
3. 2007-04-04 20:36  
sorry but, perez hilton at #17...? since when did that sad excuse for a celebrity commanded such power to be at #17!

Heh i admit i'm a BBC guy and the only reason i tune into CNN is for Anderson 360! Everytime he's on i will have my own rose petals ala american beauty experience! swooooooon!
4. 2007-04-04 20:51  
I don't think their is anything majorly wrong with what Out magazine has done.

While I agree that people's sexuality is something private. The same cannot be said for celebrities. If it's not their sexuality making a stir in the tabloids it will be something else. Let's face it would people be still as bothered with Jodie Foster if it weren't for the fact that she is semi-closeted (admit it Flighplan was terrible).

Heterosexual celebs' personal lives are often plastered on a daily basis in the press, to their dismay. And their complaints for privacy are ignored. Why should semi-closeted celebs be treated any differently.

It's impossible to keep this sort of information out of the press forever, even for people who are truely in the closet. They just need to accept the fact that they are a gay public figure, just because of that doesn't mean they should give into the pressure of supporting 'gay rights' if they don't want to. Once the press realise that their no longer is a story here, they will then leave them alone.
5. 2007-04-04 21:12  
It was very interesting watching Anderson Cooper interact with Ryan Seacrest when he was taking over Larry King's show. Almost like the two had some sort of 'is he or isnt he?' kind of vibe about each other...
6. 2007-04-04 21:23  
not only do I know he's gay, he spent a few evenings with a friend of mine (Anderson Cooper who by the way refers to himself simply as Cooper, as in "hey man, it's me Cooper), my friend told me he has a little dick too.

That explains a lot to me.

7. 2007-04-04 21:28  
may i ask...why should we care? the reality is that the people on the list are just that...people. being gay is only one aspect of who they are as, i suspect (and certainly hope), being gay is only one aspect of who and any other gay person is. afterall, "gay" is an adjective that does little to describe me, my place in the world and my value to those around me. does it somehow take on a higher meaning when it's applied to someone in the public eye?

one of the rather odd issues about gay culture is the undying need for role models. why should we look outside ourselves for models? does fame make being gay person easier or more acceptable? and if people think this way, then what about all of us living our lives in obscurity? i find it a rather sad statement that we tend to look outside ourselves for validation.

ahhh...this is just sour grapes...i am sooo certain i was #51 ;p
Comment #8 was deleted by its author
9. 2007-04-04 22:13  
I must chime in. There are so many straight people who feel very uncomfortable being around gays. They believe that gays have a promiscuous life style & they also don't like the semi-naked bears & leather men dancing on the moving platforms during gay pride parades. It's a harsh reality not a science fiction story. It'd be nice if the aforementioned celebs could come out of the closet & show the world that there are good gay role models out there.
10. 2007-04-04 22:23  
Well, its good if you want to come out as gay, but everybody has a right to privacy.

Imagine a magazine featuring you (or, eg, a straight person) and his/her most profound and disturbing antisocial habits (dig and flick snot, anyone?). Some people just like to do what they like to do in private!

There's also a problem of being typecast and devalued. No longer being viewed as a person but instead as a label.

"John? Oh, that gay" .
"Jane? Oh, that lesbo".
"Harisu? Oh, that trans".
All very annoying.
11. 2007-04-04 23:02  
Yes, everyone has a right to their privacy. What they choose to do in their own private space and life is their own business.

Sure they can publicly lie about their sexuality, you can call that their right to privacy too, for whatever reasons, under whatever circumstance. But please don't insult my sensitivity by saying its not fucked up to have to live a life of lies, half truths, and convenient publicity.

The parallel will be, if the world today is still iffy about being racist, meaning it is ok to be racist or perpetuate racism, then maybe Naomi Campbell should put on ALOT of white make up and pretend she's white or something. She don't have to denied being black but she'll never clarify that she's black too.

What's the deal, just because someone else thinks being gay is shameful or any less, we pretend we're not, or we are vague about it so that when someone tells the truth about us being GAY, that's invasion of privacy? Right. So the truth, is less important then someone's private lies?

Grow up!
12. 2007-04-04 23:44  
I am not quite sure about the last post's conclusion, but considering Out is a gay advocacy mag. I would think it would have better sense. It is someones choice to come out and everyone must do it their own way. Not coming out does not mean living a life of lies. The parallel is not a black skinned person covering their face with white makeup. If Out's commitment is the advocate the lgbt community, then it needs to be considerate of its members lives and choices, not act in the interest of Out's circulation. This is exactly the disgusting actions of the American lgbt community leaders that fosters extremism; people sould come first, not the political movement. Out has fallen into the category of gossip mag. Would you out your friend?
13. 2007-04-05 00:47  
Alaxander the Great is gay but no one refers to him as "Alexander...oh that gay!!!"

Greg Louganis is gay but no one refers to him as "Greg...oh that gay!!!"

Ellen DeGeneres is a lesbian but no one refers to her as "Ellen...oh that lesbian!!!"

Rosie O'Donnell is a lesbian but no one refers to her as "Rosie...oh that lesbian!!!"

Main stream American journalists as well as the public don't refer to those famous people as this gay or that lesbian at all!!!
14. 2007-04-05 10:19  
Even if Hicklin thinks it's okay to out semi-closeted celebrities with their current power and position, I'm sure everyone is hiding their identity to protect themselves. By listing them, he is bulldozing this wall and inviting invasive attention and homophobic remarks to these celebrities.

I think he is out of his mind. and downright selfish!
15. 2007-04-05 12:05  
But say some societies are racist (which is still quite true of many), would it be wrong to out people who are of a certain race if it wasn't already known? Would it be inviting invasive attention and racist remarks towards said people?
16. 2007-04-05 15:14  
If this lead to an invitation for"invasive attention and homophobic remarks to these celebrities", it would test the PR mettle of these celebs only. But hey, any publicity is actually doing them favour. If it's anything, Out magazine is just giving them a nudge to help them to come 'out' to speak for our rights & acceptance. The LGBT community is already here for their support, so what's the fear?

I think Out magazine had fought their own internal demons to make this happen. The chief editor & some are putting their heads on the line, so there's guts for you.

It's in good faith I believe that this expose does align with it's magazine objective mission as a gay advocacy medium. Also, there is no better time to stand up for LGBT rights then now in today's world - be it in Iran, S'pore or US.

Our community should stand united in these testing time and make good history of ourselves. Last thing is to be having in-fighting among ourselves.
Comment #17 was deleted by its author
18. 2007-04-05 16:10  
Does it matter? Seriously, what do we hope to achieve by "outting" anyone?? I say freedom begets freedom. Just as in anything we desire or want for ourselves, e.g. love, we only truly receive when we learn to truly give.

So, let people be free to live their lives the way they want to. We complain that mainstream society "shackles" us, especially at the work place and the home because we have to lead double lives, etc.

Well, if it's freedom that we want, then let's be magnanimous about it and be the first to give it, i.e. let other people, whoever they may be, have their freedom to live life the way they choose :-)
Comment #19 was deleted by its author
20. 2007-04-05 16:21  
If the list is accurate, I have no qualms in outing them.

We need as much help in outing people so people can recognise that gay people are out and about; not as rare as the conservatives make it out to be.

21. 2007-04-05 16:21  
Anderson Cooper... Gay? Yummy! He's still yummy if he's str8 lah...

It's a choice whether an individual wants "out" or "locked". To out people against their choice is not a nice thing to do.

Sometimes letting the imagination fly is nicer than to see/know the "exposed". It's more erotic seeing men in tight swim trunks (or briefs) than buck nakid men. hehehee....
22. 2007-04-05 17:51  
As one who has befriended more than my share of "celebs"in my lifetime, let me say from my somewhat limited experiences that most celebs I know, KNOW and ACCEPT their life becomes an open-book when they've reached stardom levels. BUT, many who've reached the pinnacle of their game on TALENT, hard-work, and tenacity (with the help of the media), DO genuinely FEAR seeing all that go to ruins on the basis of judgements against them because of "abnormal" sexual orientation, ESPECIALLY when swinging the gay-way. Heteros are just not measured against the same social/moral standards as queers, and that is what we ALL are trying hard to change by being great role-models, no?
I say, leave 'em alone...if/when they want to come-out, let them do it on their own terms...don't we all deserve the same sort of treatment? Shouldn't free speech and freedoms of the press be balanced by dignity and respect? Or, is that an arcane concept these days?
23. 2007-04-05 20:35  
i sitll fantasize on the rumour tht anderson cooper n ryan seacrest r dating.
anderson cooper is extra creaaaaamy.
Comment #24 was deleted by its author
25. 2007-04-06 06:24  
is this article even neccessary?
26. 2007-04-06 07:03  
People should not be outed against their will. But when closeted homosexuals join conservative, anti-gay organizations, then they should be outed with RELISH ! Anderson Cooper is an avowed Republican; that is the party that discriminates the MOST against homosexuals. Shame on him for being gay and espousing the philosophies of that party. Instead, he should be promoting the gay cause. Out him ! And I hope his outing will reach global media all over the world.
27. 2007-04-06 09:03  
I am totally agreeable with the term "living in the glass closet". Being gar is not the something should be shameful, but also not some one else's business.
28. 2007-04-06 10:13  
I dont get it - why make it such a crime when people dont want to come out? It's their decision to live and breathe with.
As for what Out mag did, they've truly showed how ugly tabloid journalism can be. Total and blatant disregard for an individual's privacy - celebrities or not, they're still human and everyone has a right to privacy.
29. 2007-04-06 10:35  
There are many reasons for someone to keep their sexuality private besides being ashame they are Gay/Lesibian. I have no more respect for a Gay/Lesbian person who outs another than I do for a member of the Moral Majority/Fundamentalist Christian Group that does. I do not see how outing Anderson Cooper makes my life as a Gay Priest any better. Cheap shot to sell magazines.
30. 2007-04-06 11:11  
I work in an industry and under someone who is extremely homophobic and has to constantly prove one's 'masculinity' through heterosexuality acts. I do not wish to be 'out' in this kind of environment as it will invites discrimination, hatred and even constantly bombarded with vulgarity, and ultimately loosing my job. Whether one wants to come 'out' or not its his/her choice and should not be 'forced'.
31. 2007-04-06 13:00  
Personally I do not agree with the Out Magazine strategy, therefore, I will not waste my pink dollar ever buying a copy. Trashy "journalism" to turn a fast buck, pretty much describes that tabloid in my humble opinion.
32. 2007-04-06 13:24  
My best friend of 27 years has been closeted since our secondary school days. Our gang of 4, all gays except him. He should know that we knew he is gay 15-years ago, but he knows very well how much we respect his decision not to come out. Today, he is a father of one.

If he decides to come out one day, we will welcome him into our family with open arms.

33. 2007-04-06 16:37  
I don't see the benefit in "outing" anybody, whether they are famous or not. Anderson Cooper is a journalist... I don't want to or care to know who he's sleeping with and there is no arena really for him to have to advertise that. I've seen him several times at New York's infamous Roxy (which has now been closed down). What more does he have to do to satisfy people... where a pink suit to work?
Gay men constantly frustrate me and let me down. The one group of people who feel the most ostresized (sp?) by society and who feel the most judged are ever so easily the cattiest of the bunch... dissing men if they don't have a 6 pack, full head of hair, and not youthful or butch enough. They often times leave lesbians out of the equation all together.
I think what is far more beneficial is to concentrate on those people, gay and straight, who have done everything they can to unburden the isolationism of the gay community and enforce possitive affirmations towards gay people.
If I have to hear one more gay man worship crack heads like Paris Hilton and Lindsy Lohan, or gossip about what guy is hot and MUST be gay, I think I'll go back in the closet... for fear there is no humanity left in the gay community.
34. 2007-04-06 18:58  
Xenophobia and racism is often discrimination based on what's outwardly visible, the superficial. Like congregates with like, and abhors anyone who looks different.

So if a person is black and but looks white, then that person is more likely not to face racism against blacks if he/she "fits in" in the looks department. People make their judgments based on what they see and react accordingly.

The conundrum when it comes to being gay is this - it's easy to hide and be invisible. You don't have to declare whether you're gay or straight, and you (usually) cannot tell just by looking at someone (please don't flame me for this).

What the article argues is that A-list celebrities have a moral obligation to fulfill their roles as role models. By virtue that they are out-there celebrities, they do the communities, and themselves a big disservice by not being out of the closet, they perpetuate the need to be hidden, invisible, and they perpetuate homophobia, in a way. These celebs gave up the right to be private when they became celebrities. If you want to be private, then join the ranks of the billions of others who are invisible to the media.

The very fact that we know your names, know who you are, and the media is interested in you, means that you're someone public, not private. But that's a discussion about celebrities and their right to privacy.

And I don't think the discussion is about who's gay or who isn't. It's about whether people who are well known, and gay, ought to come out.
35. 2007-04-06 18:59  
Do I need to express my opinion? Most of the others have done it quite well. Shame on the magazine and the staff that was involved. I too will not spend my PINK Pesos on such lack of compassion.No wonder my asian lover will not budge from the stone closet.

Difficult enough in life why make it even more.
36. 2007-04-07 13:15  
Celebrities choose to be in the limelight. They must accept that once they become a celeb, a major part of their life becomes public property. They only become celebrities by virtue of being known by the public at large. What would they be without us ? As a consequence I see nothing wrong in outing them in this way. Btw, was Oprah on the list ?
Comment #37 was deleted by its author
38. 2007-04-08 03:19  
Mr. subaltern,

The press or the tabloids can be very trashy and guess what, that's what their readers demand, and that's what they will supply to sell themselves. Get over it.

Celebrities will be nothing if they names are only know via word of mouth and nothing else. Make no mistake, any publicity is better then NO publicity for a celebrity. It would probably means the end of the road for them as celebrities if no media bothers to run anything, not even trash on them. Get over this as well.

Since you are hardly a celebrity, you should try and be objective and keep your comments to yourself and how you will feel? Loses the possibility of you ever being anything remotely famous, and thus not even having to deal with such a problem and you perhaps can be more objective.

Being GAY is NOT a crime nor is it neither shameful nor something one should actively, passively, subconsciously try to hide. If you don't see this point, and insist on your right to tell lies about your own sexuality then, you know what? This conversation should be about why the fuck are you so frighten of about being gay. And why you are so adamant about trying to protect your rights to lies and deceptions.

Go ahead. Think harder. But DO NOT pull the freedom to be a fucking liar on me. Enough of your own insecurity.

Be like Tom Cruise, do whatever it take to live a life of lies after lies after lies, until the scheme is so grand and yet so pathetic, Most people gag just thinking about his Bullshit.

Get it? The discussion is not about freedom of press or privacy rights. It's about telling the truth. You can't handle it. Think harder.
39. 2007-04-08 10:01  

frankly, i still find the terms "gay" and "straight" simplistically and pejoratively inadequate to describe the variety and complexity of human beings i have met since i learnt those words.

as for cooper and foster, they have earned our respect professionally as someone has said, and who they find appealing is their business, just as who i find appealing is mine if i choose, even if i were "straight"..

get it?
40. 2007-04-09 09:36  
Well I entered a whole block of comment here then was greeted with your inane 'not so fast girl-friend..sign in first' wisecrack....and when I signed in you had wiped out out all my comment...so screw you for being so inconsiderate and intolerant...but what else is new..
41. 2007-04-09 19:19  
I agree with mass-E who said that "Being GAY is NOT a crime nor is it neither shameful nor something one should actively, passively, subconsciously try to hide."

But I would to bring up this point for discussion sake, should we be ok with HIV+ celebs being outed by the media (for the benefit of discussing stigmatisation, visibility, and discrimination of PHA) the same way the 2 celebs were being outed - since I believe that neither being gay or poz is a crime or shameful... One of the points of contention is that the discrimination (and/or lost of career opportunities) faced by both groups of people might be quite real although one might never really know for sure. And where do we draw the line on privacy?
42. 2007-04-10 11:42  
Post#33 Mass-E You totally miss the point here

Quote..."The press or the tabloids can be very trashy and guess what, that's what their readers demand, and that's what they will supply to sell themselves."

Do you think that if "readers demand" child pornography then it is OK to publish it to "sell themselves". Believe me there are plenty of people out there who would be only too happy to read it!

Quote..."Since you are hardly a celebrity, you should try and be objective and keep your comments to yourself and how you will feel?"

This suggests that you think that anyone who has a contrary opinion to you should not post here.... an interesting insight into you! Not very objective

Quote..."Being GAY is NOT a crime nor is it neither(sic) shameful..."

Not one person here has even remotely suggested that being gay is shameful or that it is a crime.

Quote..."This conversation should be about why the **** are you so frighten of about being gay. And why you are so adamant about trying to protect your rights to lies and deceptions."

The whole discussion here has not been about being "frightened" or about "lies and deception", its about the right of an individual, celebrity or not, to keep some things about themselves private from the general public. I am certain there are certain things about yourself that you would not want to tell the world about. This is not "pulling the freedom to be a ****ing liar. Sexuality is personal, you own your sexuality and have the right to keep it private if you so chose regardless of your status, this is a about "pulling the freedom" to privacy.

Quote..."****" ... "*****"

Do you think the use of expletives makes your point better? It doesn't, it just makes you look a little silly.

Quote..."The discussion is not about freedom of press or privacy rights. It's about telling the truth."

No, this discussion is about the above article and its contents. You can work it out....think harder
43. 2007-04-10 19:26  
Inside Out
The closet has finally outlived its usefulness. So why do gay celebrities insist on staying in? And why do journalists guard the door?

* By Maer Roshan
44. 2007-11-30 22:06  
not likely going to spend a dime on irresponsible publications / articles like this ... ever ... other people's sexuality is none of your business ...

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