Why coming out still matters

If you're a part of the gay blogosphere/tweetosphere/tumblrosphere, you already know by now that Anderson Cooper has acknowledged he is gay, in an email to Daily Beast reporter Andrew Sullivan. Before sharing the email itself, Sullivan admits that it's really not a big deal. So many celebrities have come out in the last few years that it's, as he says, kind of a "non-event" now. But in Anderson Cooper's email, he explains eloquently why the act of coming out is still a big deal, not just for him, but for all of us:
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.
Nothing changes people's minds about gay people in quite the same way as seeing more gay people out there in the world, among their own friends, family, and coworkers, and in the public eye. The next time Mitt Romney or someone else says something about the gays, maybe people will think of Anderson Cooper, rather than thinking of an abstract and weird group of people they'll never know and can't relate to at all.

Of course, this is also a big deal for him personally. If you've never had to "come out" about something, whether it's your sexual orientation, gender identity, or some aspect of your past that you had previously kept hidden, you might not relate to this, but coming out feels like such a huge weight off your shoulders, like being weirdly trapped and then suddenly free of that trap. Maybe you already knew, maybe everyone already knew. But to actually come out and say it publicly is still a big deal for him. So I'm happy for him as well, not just for the effect this will have on the rest of the gay community.