Rainbow Cream Centrists: The Gay Oreo and Anderson Cooper

July 2, 2012 3:59 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Gay Oreo
This Oreo isn't even gay and homophobes don't like it. (Photo: Creative Commons)

My name is Anthony Smith, and I am not a Vanderbilt. I am, however, a homosexual journalist who eats and writes about food at least three times a day, sometimes more if there's something good on TV.

I am being open and honest about this because I apparently have an apparent responsibility to say it, or something. This responsibility comes from the simple fact that I have always been proud of it and because my job puts me in the public eye. I am no longer a nameless journalist, capable of hiding behind the pseudonymity of staff writer; I am, or will one day be able to say I am, a brand. My writing comes from a place of gay.

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As an American consumer with access to the internet, it is your responsibility to know as much about brands as possible, because some brands are or become household names through a proven success record, or luck, or both. These brands have marketing teams; but they have feelings, too. And characteristics: some brands are born very rich, some use that money to become very successful; others, still, are really and truly brave. They are faced with the burden of being honest and open at great and actual risk to whatever good will they've been cultivating.

And some brands are in constant danger, or at least need to be marketed that way.

I say this in light of recent newsworthy events, like Anderson Cooper's "coming out" as being a "gay white male tank enthusiast," or however you read Andrew Sullivan's careful choice of picture. It seems completely and culturally relevant to have your brand add "gay" to the list of things it is now, in 2012, after years of your brand gathering proverbial dust on the proverbial shelf.

So congratulations, Anderson Cooper. You are the voice of gay journalism. You also hosted two season of The Mole.

If I understand the printing of his brand's earnest e-mail on Mr. Sullivan's brand correctly, one of the reasons he did not come out was for fear of violence, given how much reporting he and his brand do behind enemy lines. This seems valid and only natural, given the long-standing practice of disguising female journalists as men, or putting black journalists in whiteface, so that they may enjoy the same safety and security in territories hostile to them. You have all of our respect, and you are blazing a trail for all of these terrified women and black people to go down, too. You are brave and bold and honest so that others may be as well.

In relative summation, today I must tip my hat and my hand. Anderson Cooper, we can do it because you did it. It is remarkably brave for a gay white male at the height of his career to tell us something we all already knew and didn't care about. At least that's what we are being told, because if you think about it, there are no real consequences to the risk you've taken today. Now your brand is all hyped up again. You are trending on Twitter.

But whereas Cooper's talk show's abysmal ratings reflected an America that couldn't have cared less about him, we are now being given an American hero in the careful and powerful vocabulary of an American hero. Let us not forget that McGreevey told the world that he was "a gay American," leaving out all the other stuff about his administration's serious corruption. Kudos to the both of you for turning disgrace into lemonade.

See, most of us don't have a support machine of other brands, like the Andrew Sullivan brand, through which we can come out. Some of us have to do it ourselves, to our families and friends, with very real risks. We do not get to come home from enemy territory and be Vanderbilts. We aren't celebrated when we emerge victorious, if we even do. Hell, we aren't even paid.

I must distance myself, now. I had an easier time than most. I hope to speak to call attention to the LGBTQ people, young and old, who are maligned and then completely ignored, or worse.

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Consider the gay Oreo, a rainbow-cream filled confection that the Oreo Brand posted to its Facebook Feed in support of Gay Pride month. For those of you that are living under a rock, the Oreo is an objectively delicious cookie. It need not do much more in the way of marketing: it is an American hero. It is even vegan. But as Buzzfeed reported, when Oreo posted its support, many of its Facebook Followers posted malicious comments on the cookie's Facebook page, expressing their boycott of the cookie.

Many members of the LGBTQ community, young and old, feel less popular and nationally loved than the Oreo. If this is a cookie that otherwise rational and loving people can turn against, then what is in store for them?

Use the momentum Anderson Cooper's brand is building to forget about Mr. Cooper and use this day to remember all the members of our species out there who have an actually difficult road ahead of them. They will actually have to grow and move forward and journey and if I am terrified thinking about that for them, I can only imagine how they must feel.

These are the real heroes. Mr. Cooper can't even be a compelling spokesman for them, let alone their avatar. It is fitting that his brand owns an item affectionately referred to as "AC 360," because no matter how or where Anderson moves or claims to move, he ends up exactly where he started.



 

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