Anderson Cooper Comes Out But Many Reporters Need To Stay In

Dubai, UAE – The body of freelance journalist Thomas White was found dumped on a city street in Dubai early Saturday morning after he was reported by colleagues as being kidnapped Thursday afternoon near his apartment.Witnesses to the kidnapping say a black van pulled up as White was walking down the street where he lived and three men rushed out, grabbed and put White into the van which then sped off.

White’s body was discovered dumped two miles away and according to authorities had been mutilated with a note pinned on what was remaining of his clothing which roughly translated to “no faggots in Dubai”.

That was a fictionalized wire service report written by this writer back in February 2011 for a piece on another version of Focus On The Rainbow.

Unfortunately because I deleted that version last summer the posting is lost however the “wire service report” remains because a blogging friend of mine Sayen CroWolf still had it in a piece he wrote the same day as I posted my article.

What brought on my article and his at the time there was this ongoing rabid voicing of opinion from many in the LGBT world of blogs, websites and even some orgs that Anderson Cooper should admit and come out of the closet to set an example for others to follow. So it is that yesterday (July 2) Cooper did and thus the reason for me to revisit why reporters often do need to stay in the closet, not to hide but for self-preservation.

As Sayen CroWolf wrote in part in his piece, Being an out gay man in the Middle East, and especially a foreigner is going to get you killed.  It’s not an overstatement on my part, it’s not artistic license when I say that.  Not only have I been there, I’ve worked and lived there.  Never once would I have considered coming out while I was in Baghdad, or any other country I covered in that region.  I was hesitant to tell anyone that I was American, I sure as hell wasn’t about to tell them that I was gay.

Websites galore have a field day with Anderson Cooper’s sexuality, and it’s pretty much fodder on any slow day of the week that there’s going to be a post about his in-the-closet “gayness”.  You know what?  Maybe he wants to continue to have a pulse while he worked in Egypt.  Maybe he doesn’t want to risk getting pulled off international coverage all together and consigned to having his journalistic experience reduced to playing the straight guy (no pun intended) against Kathy Griffin’s media whore persona on New Year’s Eve.

As Cooper himself wrote in the now famous email toAndrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast, But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.

Except for journalists like myself, be they in or out, and perhaps very few others, that part of Cooper’s writing will likely be lost on the many who are so thrilled that he has finally acknowledged what so many thought but without giving pause as to why he oft avoided “the question” and “stayed in”.

All LGBT activists can see is that every man, woman and kid needs to come out and stand to be counted. Selfish on their part without giving a care as to the consequences which coming out can do, even when that coming out for journalists can become a very lethal decision.

That day when Sayen CroWolf and I corresponded via email, we discussed some other journalists, which obviously won’t be mentioned here, however if the names were mentioned no doubt people would recognize them, and their need to stay in because of the parts of the world they cover as international correspondents for a variety of news organizations.

One we did discuss and included in both our articles was Miguel Marquez who at the time was working for ABC News, now working for CNN and was “out”.

The reason we included him was right around the time we wrote the articles Marquez and his team had been accosted and beaten by thugs in the capital city of  Bahrain, Manama, as they were covering the unrest which was spreading across the Arab World.

While it appeared Marquez and crew were likely in the wrong place at the wrong time, both Sayen CroWolf and myself had hated to think what may have happened if these thugs knew Marquez was gay. Instead of the news media reporting he and crew had been caught up in the crackdown they very well could have reported he was killed by anti-gay demonstrators and like-minded political and authoritative zealots.

This is the precarious world of reporting as an “out” journalist.

Something those who cry out for this journalist or another to “come out and be proud” should do is some deep soul-searching, think long and hard before uttering a single word, and put themselves in the shoes of those they castigate for “staying in”. Would they be willing to risk bodily harm or getting killed to “be out and proud” ?