Coming out as gay in a society full of elements that work to suppress the rights of homosexuals means one more voice for the persecuted and oppressed, and the bigger the voice, the better.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper added just such a voice on Monday when he permitted his friend, Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan, to publish an email in which Cooper acknowledged his homosexuality.

“The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud,” Cooper wrote.

A famous recluse when it comes to personal matters, Cooper has long refused to discuss his sexuality even when asked directly, saying that he did not want his life to take precedence over the stories he told as a journalist. His homosexuality has long been an open secret among the public, however, and was not something he kept from family, colleagues and friends. One Twitter user joked that Cooper came out of “the world’s draftiest closet.”

Personal concerns aside, the feeling that acknowledging his homosexuality would benefit and possibly comfort gay and lesbian Americans eventually overtook Cooper’s desire to shield his private life from public view, he wrote.

“I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.”

An outpouring of support flooded the Twittersphere, where others confirmed that gay celebrities do society a service by coming out. @Anti_Intellect wrote: “I commend Anderson Cooper, not because I think he should have come out, but because I know how important visibility is for our community.” Another suggested that we have entered an age when being a closeted homosexual is worse for one’s career than being an openly acknowledged one.

It is generally true that the more common a thing becomes, the less it shocks the public. For America’s gay and lesbian communities, more open homosexuality is an undeniable good, especially when it comes from public figures. Truthdig commends Anderson Cooper for joining the push for fair treatment and legal equality by making a sensitive and important part of his personal life a matter of public knowledge.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly. Follow him on Twitter: @areedkelly.

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