In light of the number of people who have come out of it I think it is no longer factually correct to use the expression “Come out of the closet.” Unless the closet is of continental proportions, it makes no sense to call it so.
I propose that we call it nothing. In fact, I propose that we create a situation where gay people do not feel the need to “reveal” or “identify” themselves. Gay, straight, asexual, bisexual, inbetweensexual, whatever. Let that be humanity’s attitude towards sexuality.
Ashok Row Kavi, a fellow journalist and India’s best known gay rights activist, used to joke in the early 1980s that unless proven otherwise everybody is gay. Once in the offices of the Free Press Journal newspaper, where we worked together, when he said as a throwaway remark, “But of course darling Rock Hudson is gay”, most reporters thought Ashok was being his usual self, meaning incorrigible. Some female journalists wanted to strangle him but Ashok insisted that the gay grapevine always knew that Hudson was gay. It turned out that Ashok was right all along.
From then on it became an inside Free Press joke that every time someone seemed remotely gay we would all say,“Of course rey. (Rey is just a useless local emphasis which means nothing in particular) Woh to member hai. (He is a member).” A member as in a Member of the Guild as in gay. Shireesh Kanekar, Sidharth Bhatia, both dear friends and fellow journalists, and I used the more erudite Urdu expression “Membran-e-guild” to describe gays.
The reason why I mention this little story is because the gay grapevine always knew that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is gay. In coming out, Anderson has merely confirmed an inconsequential piece of information which should not mean anything one way or the other. It is not even worthy of eliciting “duh” in response. As I said, let the unspoken response to this announcement be “Whatever.”
On a purely intellectual level I understand the argument that when prominent gays are open about their sexuality it helps remove the social stigma surrounding it. In the process it may save other members of the gay community from cruel harassment and even violence that they are often subject to simply because of who they are. The debate whether homosexuality is genetic or a matter of choice is utterly redundant because sexual pleasure is an entirely personal matter as long as it does not come at the cost of someone else and is between consenting adults.
I hope Anderson Cooper’s decision to “come out” in the larger interest of the homosexual community was not a result of snide innuendoes among a certain section of the doctrinaire media. Given his professional profile and socio-economic background I seriously doubt that someone like Cooper can be forced into declaring his sexuality. However, one does get the sense that he was frequently made conscious of and reminded about it through cheap and no-so-cheap barbs. Somewhere along the line the pressure might have got to him even though he says he never hid it. He probably reasoned, “Fuck it, man. I am better off getting it out there in the open.”
Let there no longer be glory in sexuality whichever way it leans. Let there no longer be a struggle in sexuality. Let there no longer be news in sexuality. Let it be what it just is—a natural preference. There is no great mystery to sex, gay or straight. It is mostly about someone sticking it into someone else and a few minutes later convulsing in short-lived ecstasy. Also, it is so utterly predictable despite the fairly impressive number of ways it can be achieved.
So, so like that.