I honestly didn't know what title to give this post after reading Anderson Cooper's email to Andrew Sullivan (which you can see the entire article here). "Bravo Anderson!" "Three Cheers to Anderson Cooper!" were two of the ones that instantly jumped into my mind, but honestly, just his name seemed to suffice without making it seem as if his coming out is any more important that a young, unknown man or woman coming out who lives in a very fatally homophobic/transphobic environment.
I'm happy that Anderson finally "came out" to the public. I really am. His words were beautiful and heartfelt and he didn't go into details about too much, didn't try to make excuses for why he's never come out before, he was sincere and sincerity is something that is sadly lacking in much of our daily interactions with each other. For me though, I read his email to Andrew and all I could think of was how happy I was to have another well-known person stand up and say, "This is who I am. I am unapologetic about who I am. I embrace who I am. I love who I am and I stand for who I am and others like me." Though I must admit that whenever I hear someone say that they're not an "activist" they just take a stand for what's right, I always get a little smile on my face, because that's what an activist does.
Maybe this held such weight with me because of things I've been struggling with in my own personal life. The feeling of being inconsequential to people who say they care, to the world at large, the proverbial pity-party my subconscious throws at least twice every day because I'm not doing enough. I know that I hold myself to a certain standard, one that others have told me is impossible but one that I can't seem to tear myself away from. I love helping others. I want to change the world. I'm determined to do both of those things. So, yes, I am an activist. In addition to being a writer and a brother, and uncle, a father, a son, a friend, a business partner, a boyfriend... I am an activist. It's not something that I run from, it's something that I embrace, just like I embrace being transgender and being gay, black, a Messianic Jew and a disabled veteran of the United States Army. I don't shame easily, I don't let people tell me that I shouldn't be so vocal in the issues that I fight against. I marched with Save Darfur, proudly. I've protested, passed out fliers, called members of Congress and the Senate. Written letters to the President, the Vice-President and whoever else I could.
I'm not ashamed about the things I've suffered and endured, the ways I've overcome abuse at the hands of family members, the abuse I suffered at the hands of ex-boyfriends, friends, hell, the abuse I've suffered (albeit only verbally) from people online. I'm not ashamed of those things. I know there are others who would be, who go through what I have to suffer from guilt and shame, but whenever those feelings creep up on me I remind myself of my ultimate goal: to change the world. I remind myself of the group home I want to start, the charities, the non-profit organizations that I want to run. I think of the lives I want to change, the teenagers, the children, the people who are waiting on someone who cares enough to fight for them. Who understands what they've been through, so they know to never stop fighting. I think of them and I refuse to apologize for being an activist. I'm a writer, yes, I understand that. I love writing, it gives me a joy and a peace that I would be lost without, but I'm also a world-changer. Someday that's what people will know me as.
So maybe that's why Anderson's email so snatched my heart from my chest and clutched it in a firm grip. He's so unapologetic. He doesn't apologize for being who he is, for the decisions that he's made, he just explains them. I for one love people who say: this is who I am. It is not the whole of me, it is not a big part of my life's portrait, it is a piece of the puzzle, a small portion, but it is a portion of me that I embrace, that I celebrate, that I love. I will not apologize for that, I will not let you make me feel as if I should apologize for that and I will not let you make that the sum defining total of who I am.
So for that reason I say: Bravo, Anderson. Three cheers for you.
Here's the email below: