Coming Out Stories as Cultural Capital: Anderson Cooper Out Due to Peer Pressure?

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Is Anderson Cooper going to fold to peer pressure to swing through the closet doors and come out? Now he is being accused that he will come out to improve the ratings of his television show that is getting so-so ratings. Why not? It’s his project, his decision. Hey, stay out of my uterus and out of Anderson’s decisions!

 

thinkprogress.org says:

Gawker reports that Anderson Cooper may be planning a coming-out episode to boost the ratings of his talk show, which have been mixed, during the February sweeps period.

There’s something fascinating to me about the fact that we’ve reached a point where coming out of the closet can—for a very small set of very privileged people, and under very specific circumstances—be extraordinarily valuable cultural capital. Cooper is all but formally out: he’s regularly photographed with men he’s dating. I think it’s probably a fair bet (if not a certainty) that he is out to friends and family. But it’s that statement that’s valuable. It’s what gets you the tune-in as people await final confirmation that the Silver Fox is in fact a Friend of Dorothy, it’s what gets you the magazine covers, and the speaking circuit, and the invitation to chair a charity or host a big fundraising dinner. It’s not coming out as we traditionally understand it, a revealing of previously unknown and often unsuspected information to friends and family that carries a risk of rejection.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrities who come out getting a benefit of community support and affiliation from it. And I do think it helps kids to have role models. But it is worth noting that we’re at a point where that experience is a commodity, and that need for role models and heroes is something that can be turned into a profit-generating enterprise.

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