Anderson Cooper came out in an email and Frank Ocean came out in a blog post. Both men came out at roughly the same time, but the impact and context of each man’s public persona are markedly different. Anderson Cooper’s a respected journalist who has been hounded by the gay rumors for years – it’s gotten to the point that his coming out seemed inevitible. To be frank, I didn’t really care all that much about Cooper’s personal life – as a journalist, he’s meant to report the story, not be the subject.
Frank Ocean is a member of the hip-hop outfit, Odd Future – a collective of alternative hip-hop artists. The impact of Ocean’s coming out will probably be more felt, even if his celebrity is much more obscure. Hip-hop has been perceived as homophobic, and many of the genre’s most popular artists have no issue with including rhymes that glorify gay bashing. Odd Future is one of the most respected groups of urban alternative music, and some of its artists – most notably Tyler, The Creator – have been able to carve out mainstream success and raise their public profiles. Having a hip-hop artist who is out and accepted by his/her peers would be a huge boon for the LGBT community.