Refusing to be Invisible

My Truth in Progress colleague, Marilyn Bennett has called my attention to an excellent piece in The Daily Beast, titled "Anderson Cooper, 'The Fact Is I'm Gay.'" The article published on July 2, 2012 by Andrew Sullivan, allows me to weave together what Marilyn and I have been doing in TIP; reflecting upon, discussing, writing, creating a documentary, about the intersections of heterosexism, racism and religion. Sullivan in his article shares the words of Anderson Cooper as he says to the reader, "I'm Gay." As I was reading the article, I immediately thought of Ralph Ellison's 1952 book, Invisible Man. A key sentence in the book is this, "I am invisible understand, simply because people refuse to see me."

Anderson Cooper has known for some time that he is gay. Thus, he was not engaged in any act of self-deception, nor was he attempting to "pass" as heterosexual as some of my relatives have "passed" as white, because their physical appearances allowed them to do so. Rather Anderson Cooper was and is so comfortable "living in his own skin" that until now, he found no need to go public with his sexual orientation. But, even with all of the movement toward inclusion that is taking place regarding gay persons, there are denominations like my United Methodist Church and some 30 some states that through ballot initiatives have said no to marriage equality for same sex couples. Thus, Anderson Cooper's sharing his sexual orientation via Andrew Sullivan contributes to the curing of the "blindness" that keeps still too many persons in church and society from "seeing" with their hearts, minds and convictions, their sisters and brothers who are gay.

Anderson Cooper through the writing of Andrew Sullivan has given all of us a 4th of July present. Despite our celebrations that will take place on July 4th acknowledging our national independence, our independence is compromised as long as our nation, culturally and legislatively declares that some persons are more equal than other persons because of their heterosexual sexual orientation. Anderson Cooper has been free and independent since that time he acknowledged and accepted the totality of himself, sexual orientation and otherwise. It is the USA that is not free as long as in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in religion and society, we do not fully accept, or expect self-declared "invisibility" of those who are gay.

Marilyn and I share with Anderson Cooper, Andrew Sullivan, our supporters and the nation, these words from Ralph Ellison. No one of us, on this July 4th, for any reason should be expected to make themselves invisible as a response to the bias, bigotry and prejudice of others. These words of the gifted African American novelist are our July 4th gift to all of you.

"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe, nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." (From Invisible Man).

Anderson Cooper, because you have dared to share for all to see that you are a "Gay Man," you have encouraged and empowered others, some who are gay, some who are not, to "come out" from the shadows of invisibility that too many of us for all kinds of reasons have allowed others to wrap us in.