Kathy Griffin discusses why she never “outed” her BFF Anderson Cooper

On Monday, Anderson Cooper “came out” in the one of the best ways I’ve ever seen – he did it in a low-key open post/email to The Daily Beast’s (gay) journalist Andrew Sullivan. Anderson explained himself and his reasons for not publicly acknowledging or verifying his homosexuality before now, and why he made the decision to say something publicly now. His open letter was exceptionally well-written, emotional, cathartic and beautiful. I was really proud of him, truly. I know that’s a weird thing to say about a man I’ve never met, but I just like that Anderson “came out” on his own terms, when he felt the time was right, and in his own way. And for the “right” reasons too. Anyway, Anderson’s sometimes-BFF and official New Year’s Eve Co-Star Kathy Griffin wrote an “open letter” response to Anderson’s coming out party in (where else?) The Daily Beast. You know what? I love Kathy. And I think her essay is also exceptionally well-written, and I like the way she discusses the history of the gay rights movement. Here is her essay in full:

My friend Anderson Cooper is the scion of one of America’s great shipping and railroad families, the Vanderbilts. He’s covered the military coup and eventual unseating of the democratically elected (albeit bat-shit crazy) Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He’s covered the small wars in Africa that use children as slave soldiers. He knows more about the women of The Real Housewives than perhaps even I do. He’s covered the seemingly endless large wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And by “covered,” I mean he’s really gone and covered them—with a security detail and without; embedded with troops and unilaterally—not from the relative safety of the Green Zone in Baghdad or the international zone in Kabul. He’s sat down with despots in countries like Somalia, covered the atrocities in the Balkans and Burma. And he also happens to be gay.

Funny thing, that … Kicking around for as many years as I have, I’ve done countless interviews pushing Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, stand-up comedy specials, live comedy dates, the Kathy show, and everything in between. I’ve talked to everyone from a local gay blogger to Time magazine. I’m not really sure at what point it changed, but the press—or at least the press who covered my little carnival—became fixated on Anderson’s orientation. And for years, I talked around it.

Believe it or not, I don’t “out” people. It is neither my business nor my desire. Remember, folks, I am a comedian, not a journalist. These weren’t questions where I could make a joke about Ryan Seacrest getting a mani/pedi. This isn’t a joke I make about whether Oprah and Gayle are gay lovers. I have no idea if Oprah and Gayle are gay lovers. I doubt they are, but as a comedian, I find some comedy in picturing those two girls running the world as a power couple. Anderson is someone who has led a very specific kind of professional life, who never talked and simultaneously exhibited social contradictions. And quite frankly, he never gave me permission to speak about something that represented the one part of his life he was not comfortable having confirmed in the media. But in my dealings with a certain sector of the press, that simply was never good enough.

So while I’ve tried to protect my friend and represent him the way he would most prefer, I was never exactly clear on just how to do it, how to say it. One year, while in the middle of doing several interviews to promote New Year’s Eve Live on CNN, I had a discussion with Anderson about it. “For Christ’s sake, Anderson, I’ve been getting asked as much about your sexuality as I have about my own show!” I said.

He said: “Kathy, I don’t get asked as much about my sexuality as you get asked about my sexuality. But here’s my standard party line: ‘I want to report the news. I don’t want to be the news.’”

I recently read an article that quoted a gay Army officer friend of mine saying how freeing on so many levels the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has been, that he and his now legally married husband might someday finally adopt and begin a family. The “ethical nonstarter” of having to teach a child to lie so that she might protect her fathers was no longer even a glancing consideration. Well, there is an unspoken kind of DADT among the press, and Anderson’s party line only revealed part of it.
The reality is that despite the very real, the very necessary, and the very life-changing progress we have made in this country in treating people across the sexual orientation spectrum with dignity and respect, America—the world—is not fully represented by Chelsea in New York City. It’s not fully represented by DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C.; the Castro; or West Hollywood. Hell, it’s not even Ft. Lauderdale and its Wilton Manors or Denver’s Capital Hill neighborhood. America is, in large part, small towns like Oxnard, Calif. It’s Sevierville, Tenn. It’s Laramie, Wyo. And it’s Wichita, Kan., where I was eating recently at a local diner and a patron asked me, “Kathy, how do you deal with so many goddamned f-gs?”

Many of my young gays don’t know about Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” initiative, which was developed with the help of some extremist American evangelicals. Many don’t know about Stonewall or, more recently, the importance of Lawrence v. Texas. They don’t know about Cuba’s jailing of HIV patients or even that Iran has sentenced gay teenagers to death by hanging. They don’t know that in large portions of Baghdad, honest LGBT folks are hunted and summarily executed by roving bands of so-called morality police, who kill with impunity both the “out” and those simply perceived to be gay. What many young people do know is what they read in short bursts on celebrity Twitter posts or on TMZ. And what they read and see is how freeing being honest can be. What they don’t see is that it remains, in many places, very dangerous to do just that. And that dichotomy is deeply troubling to me.

Look, I’m a comedian. Anderson reports on the world’s toughest stories. He speaks truth to power. I, on the other hand, make fun of the spectacularly silly world of reality television and Hollywood’s fame whores (and those who love them). I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of the worlds Anderson moves in. But I do know that I don’t want my friend to face that part of the world, where he might die a very different kind of death than someone who isn’t quite so honest.

Anderson writes: “I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something—something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed, or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.”

Here’s the thing: I love my friend Anderson and remain immensely proud of him. And I’m honored, truly, that he considers me a friend. But I just want him to be careful. Of course he wouldn’t be doing his job if he really were being careful. And he wouldn’t be who he is.

[From The Daily Beast]

I think she’s basically saying that she never outed him because she loves him very deeply and she worries that one of these days he’s going to fly into one of these countries and he’ll be killed because people think/know he’s gay. Which is a genuine concern, and it sucks that it’s a genuine concern. Still, I love Kathy for bringing “the real”.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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65 Responses to “Kathy Griffin discusses why she never “outed” her BFF Anderson Cooper”

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  1. Esmom says:

    I love how she always “brings the real.” And I get her concern…but I think I’d have more respect for her if she’d kept quiet on her thoughts — or at least waited a decent interval — because this appears like she’s trying to get in on his spotlight.

    • brin says:

      I agree, I feel the same way.

    • GoodCapon says:

      I tend to agree.

      Why can’t she just say “I’m happy for him/I support him in his decision” instead of writing a full-blown essay?

    • dallasite40 says:

      FUN FACT: (I’m sitting in the airport and have lots of time on my hands.)

      Guess how many times Kathy wrote, “my, mine, or me”???? FOURTEEN!

      And how many times did she write, “I”??? THIRTY-ONE!

      Way to make it ALL about you, Kathy! Great job! Whoo! Whoo!

      Btw: I tolerate her because my partner thinks she’s hysterical but never again! :)

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        I’ve always disliked her use of the term “the gays.” Whenever I hear one of her jokes I replace “the gays” with “the blacks/Latinos/Asians” and know I’m within my rights to be offended. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s riding Anderson’s coat tails for attention, she’s a self-obsessed twit who will do anything for attention (including, but not limited to, extreme plastic surgery and exploiting her “best friend” and an entire community of people for fame and fortune). I find this woman far more insufferable than Chelsea Handler.

      • Esmom says:

        Mort, I always gave her a pass on “the gays” because you could tell it was said with nothing but the utmost affection.

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        @Esmom, I know what you mean. I don’t think she’s being hateful when she says it, but I do think she’s being exploitative and THAT’s what I find offensive.

      • Trillion says:

        Kinda hard to write and essay about your feelings without referring to yourself though. Now, if it were supposed to be about someone else’s reaction to his coming out, I’d see your point.

    • Little Darling says:

      I’m proud and sure she cleared it with him first. And he probably allowed it because she touched on tolerance as a world. How many young gays will read her piece and google the issues she discussed. I will, and frankly, I didn’t realize how well spoken or educated she really was on a wealth of topics. Or how beautifully serious she can be. For once
      I don’t think this was a ploy! I think she wanted
      to shed light, while the iron was hot, on homosexuality as a social issue that is so far widely spread, and we don’t hear enough about. I consider myself tolerant and well read, yet had no idea of a lot of her topics on other countries.

      Thank you for this, Kathy.

    • deblang says:

      I just have to comment on Kathy Griffins oh so loving essay. I love and respect Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin makes me laugh but I can’t say that i love or respect her. While she is so respectful of her gay friend AC
      she has been over the top nasty about implying certain people are probably gay (allegedly) and not out. K Griffin is a genius and a Narcissist. I find her essay to be just too over the top. She makes a living at being a Mean Girl and I find her to be very funny but do I find her to have integrity or respect for anyone other than herself…No way

    • corny says:

      At least he knows he is gay, Kathy doesn’t seem to know what she is though

  2. Chris: now with 10% less negativity says:

    She looks a lot like Katey Sagal, especially in the last photo.

  3. beyonce's bump says:

    ummm can we not turn AC’s coming out into “news” plz? smh

  4. LucyOriginal says:

    I really like her and I get her concern. Since I saw her calling him Andy, I do the same, hahaha

  5. the original bellaluna says:

    I’ve always liked her (grating voice and personality included), but this…this makes me love her. And I never thought I would use the word “classy” to describe Kathy Griffin, but that. was. Classy.

    THIS is what true friends do. We worry about our friends, but we still keep their confidences.

  6. really says:

    I think it’s a beautiful essay – more of a supportive public letter to a good friend who might be going through a hard time this week. From what I gather from our posts, most of us here only expose ourselves to media that is liberal, fair and tolerant, but cooper’s probably gotten a ton of negative responses from the other half of the United States.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes but who among those gay bashers will actually read it? If she wanted to reach and educate them she could have found a different outlet. I do think what she said is valid and smart and eloquent, I just take issue with how opportunistic it seems.

  7. keats says:

    I don’t like her, but I HATE when people out other people. So good job, Kathy. I like you slightly more.

  8. Kim1 says:

    Anderson tweeted Thanks to everyone He is working in Botswana.Ask for Kathy I she doesnt consider calling Clay Aiken Gay Aiken outing someone.

  9. Sunnyjyl says:

    Her letter seems very supportive to me. Rock on, Kathy.

  10. Violet says:

    Unfortunately, the people that have thrown shade on Anderson Cooper for not coming out before now — or, worse yet, tried to out him without permission — seemed to be clueless to the very real dangers he would’ve faced on some of his overseas assignments if he’d been public about his sexual orientation.

    In a perfect world, coming out shouldn’t have an impact on Anderson’s career but the reality is that he’s now going to have to avoid certain countries for safety reasons.

    Anyway, I think he’s awesome and think it’s a shame that there are negative consequences to being honest about his sexuality. He’s a great role model for anyone, straight or LGBT.

  11. Izzy says:

    I loved her essay, and I think the underlying message of it is more important: she WOULD NOT out her friend simply because she is in the entertainment industry or supports gay rights or any other reason. She respected his privacy and his wish not to publicly discuss his sexual orientation. You know why I don’t really read Ted Casablanca or Perez Hilton? (Other than the fact that they both write like 12-year-old girls, which I find annoying as h-e-ll.) The fact that their “blind items” are sometimes poorly disguised attempts to “out” actors who are “in the closet.” First, I think the practice itself is wrong. Second, if you believe them, nearly every actor in Hollywood is gay or bi, and I would think that the Law of Averages alone would preclude this. I once stumbled onto a really interesting academic journal article that discusses TC and his “blind items” from the perspective of social norms within the gay community. It was a very interesting perspective. OK. Rant over. Peace out.

  12. Lucy2 says:

    It’s a nice letter and very supportive, but I have to agree that it’s a bit much and comes across as a draw for attention.
    The main reason for not outing people should always be because it’s no one else’s business. I am glad she said that.

  13. ahoyhoy says:

    Anderson’s mother’s awful, awful childhood & custody battle made her tabloid fodder before she could read. There were even books and a tv movie (“Little Gloria, Happy at Last!”).

    I TOTALLY understand why he would be shy about becoming ‘the story.’ His mother’s experience would have certainly colored his thinking on it!

  14. It is ME!! says:

    “why she never outed her bff”…..

    a) because he’s her friend and b) and most importantly- because it wasn’t her right to do so, only his!!

  15. Sonia says:

    Why is this news? Seriously why is someone’s sexual orientation news? It’s none of our business. TEAM KATHY

  16. Vicky says:

    She is just a mean, nasty beotch (except to Anderson). I didn’t realize Anderson was ever NOT out. Who didn’t know?

  17. Boxy Lady says:

    I’m straight and I participated in the Gay Pride parade this year to be supportive of my gay work colleagues. Also, I had a lot of gay friends growing up and one of my best friends’ mom was gay. I am a tomboy at heart and I figure that some people may think I’m a butch lesbian or something, but that’s never bothered me. But I have to say, when I was coming home from the parade, it occurred to me that someone may perceive me as gay because of my parade participation and try to beat the crap out of me. That thought terrified me. And I couldn’t just brush it off as paranoia because those kinds of attacks are still happening across the country and all around the world, and I think that is ultimately one of Kathy’s main points. Even though Anderson has never hidden the fact that he’s gay, there are still a lot of people who had no idea and his privacy was an important part of securing his safety on the job.

  18. Anahata says:

    I love her. And what I took away from her essay was the profound respect she has for AC and what he does.

  19. Kloops says:

    I’m all over the place with this one.
    1. It’s the truth what she writes re: human rights violations.
    2. Homophobes are not going to read this article, but it’s still a valuable message
    3.She’s kind of hypocritical re: who she does and does not “out” . For the most part she doesn’t out people, and I agree, she really doesn’t think Oprah or Seacrest are gay
    4. I think she’s hilarious and a good friend to the gay community, but she didn’t do Aiken any favors
    5. Why does she have to make it about her so soon? She could have waited.
    6. Seriously, she’s hilarious live
    7. I’m sure AC doesn’t give a hoot. He’s busy.

  20. bgirl says:

    I think it’s a lovely tribute. But I wish she wouldn’t wear fur.

  21. apsutter says:

    I love Kathy and Anderson so freakin much! They are hilarious when they are together. It would be devastating if anything were to happen to him while he’s on assignment. I’m just glad that he came out when he wanted to and wasn’t bullied into it.

  22. ezra says:

    I like Kathy, but come on, she was always taunting him with little hints and double-entands & he was just cringing and nervous giggling because with Kathy you never know what could come spewing out of her mouth like projectile diarrhea. It was fun to watch the nervous look on his face though and hear his nervous giggles as she was in- between- the- lines threatening to out him. It was fun to watch her taunt him-but in a nasty nice way. He even displayed an emotion I’ve never witnessed before-nervous/amused.

  23. jwoolman says:

    You’d think we would have advanced to the point where no “announcement” was needed and speculation seems so silly. Unless I’m looking for a mate, why do I even need to know somebody’s sexual orientation? It’s certainly irrelevant for my relationship with Anderson Cooper…. He wasn’t in the closet, it just wasn’t pertinent to previous conversations.

  24. marybeth18 says:

    Few thoughts- first, re: Kathy herself. Did anyone see the Joan Rivers documentary, “A Piece of Work”? See it. It’s really great, regardless of your feelings about Joan R. She talks a lot about how Kathy G. has basically usurped her role in comedy.

    I don’t think public figures “owe” it to anyone to come out. I don’t think outing someone without their permission is ok. My problem with closeted gay people is when they actively disparage/work against equal rights (like some closeted politicians), or when they lie about their sexuality. Anderson Cooper, Zachary Quinto, NPH, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer…as far as I can recall, none of them ever paraded around on a red carpet with a “girlfriend” or acted like they love the ladies or gave an interview where they said “I’m not gay.” They never acknowledged their sexuality by either confirming or denying. I don’t have a problem with this.

  25. RHONYC says:

    i love Kathy. i love AC. and i SUPER-LOVE ‘Space Cops’! ;-)

  26. alicia says:

    i cant wait for the day that things like this wont be issues, people having to ” out” themselfs like is an obligationto tell people they are not hetero. we live in world with many advances but topics like this saden me because we are so far behind in some aspects its just ridiculous

  27. Ginger says:

    I know a lot of people (my husband included) don’t like Kathy but I do. She cracks me up because she’s not afraid to say what she’s thinking (and more than likely what other people are also thinking but wouldn’t say). I really appreciate the fact that she supports the GLBT community. I also don’t think her reference to “the gays” is meant to be hateful. I’m also very proud of Anderson Cooper in that he finally acknowledged his sexuality publicly. I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business what sexuality you are but if you are brave enough to say the truth when asked then I applaud!!

  28. Maguita says:

    Honestly, my first thought when AC officially came out was how is he going to be able to do his job, be an outstanding journalist, while clearly, more than ever, putting his life in danger?

    Love how Kathy highlights the world outside our bubble, and how many countries mistreat people for their gender, or sexual orientation. And AC as of this moment, WILL HAVE a target on his back whenever traveling outside the US.

    The truth of the matter is, journalists are tolerated. When on location, you can buy a guide, you can buy a translator, but unfortunately, you can never buy tolerance, or a modicum of acceptance.

    And this now puts AC in constant danger whenever reporting outside his country. It grieves me that he might become a martyr for homosexuality. He should have waited retirement, because let’s face it, if many-many AMERICAN STATES, CITIES, AND TOWNS are still intolerant of homosexuals, in the name of their interpretation of some religion, how do you think those other countries we have so ridiculed so far for their outdated, savage, and backward thinking are going to react?

    Notwithstanding the loveliness, and surprising kindness, of Kathy’s words, Anderson Cooper should have retired first, for I don’t understand how taking his homosexuality outside the USA is going to help him do his job better?

    I (ignorantly?) expect the opposite, and fear his official words would not only hinder his career, but more importantly, put his life more on the line, than it already is as a war journalist.

    Still, wish him the best of luck and courage.

  29. Aubra says:

    BTW, so sick of these celebrity open letters!

  30. Sumodo1 says:

    Did you see the picture posted with the essay? She and AC holding hands while reclining on chaise lounges? It was sweet and I LOL’d on the page: “Hope ya got sunblock!”

  31. Kim says:

    Duh because EVERYONE knew he was gay. I didnt realize he wasnt out. Some men are so obviously gay that its a joke when they “come out.”