Anderson Cooper and The Glass Closet

Of the many obnoxious media-fabricated terms (zero tolerance, too black, etc), the one that’s been pissing me off the most of late is “the glass closet.”

What is the glass closet?

Well, the glass closet is a place created by gossip columnists, such as Mike Signorile and Perez Hilton, to put pressure on allegedly closeted gay men and women to come out of the closet. A closet is considered to be made of glass when someone, such as Anderson Cooper, is openly gay in his personal life, but hasn’t yet come out in his professional or public life. And while I understand the activist strategy behind the creation of the glass closet, I do not agree with its existence whatsoever.

Here’s the thing: there are many different types of activists – those of the “we’re here and we’re queer” variety who believe that the louder they are, the more attention their issue will receive in the mainstream media and, thus, trickle down into society; those who believe actions speak louder than words; and those who speak up through their art, journalism, writing etc. ALL are important. Interestingly, none of them can exist without one another – which is why I’m a little frustrated.

Why can’t we all realize that we’re working towards the same goal?

Of the different types of activists I mentioned above, ironically the most closed-minded and conservative of the bunch, are the loudest of all. They have an extremely myopic and absolutist point of view about the world, and have no interest in entertaining other ways of thinking. If the “we’re here and we’re queer” queers bust open the doors, the more tempered activists keep them open. But what I’ve come to find is that often times (but not always) the loudest activists are a little older, and have a tough time relating to younger activists (and vice versa) – leaving so-called ‘communities’ in total disarray; not relating to one another.

While struggles between older people and younger people are certainly nothing new, the gay male community feels like an out of control high school cafeteria as opposed to a united force. Older gay men who lived through everything from the Stonewall riots of 1968 to the AIDS crisis of the 80s have spent a good majority of their lives fighting for the lifestyle and rights that we younger gays now enjoy – AND sometimes take for granted, I might add. But with the recent comings out (coming outs?) of Anderson Cooper, etc, the bickering around the “glass closet” has been louder than ever – and it’s mostly coming from older gay men who believe Anderson should’ve come out sooner.

When Anderson (of the actions speak louder than words/journalist activist variety) came out of the closet a couple of weeks ago, I had the same reaction that many of my 20-30-something friends had: “And?”

You see, in 2012, coming out of the closet is not as big of a deal as it was even 5 years ago; largely due to the efforts of the men and women that loudly came out before us. It’s a good thing, and while I know the pressure needs to be kept up, there are ways to do it and ways not to do it. Creating a glass closet is not the way.

Here in NYC (and in many other circles across the country), Anderson Cooper has been known to be gay for years. Why didn’t he come out publicly and declare his gayness? I have no clue, but it’s none of my business and none of yours either. Yes, he’s a public figure – but does that mean he must adhere to some kind of gay rulebook just because he’s well known? I mean, for what it’s worth (and I think it’s worth a lot), Anderson has devoted countless segments on his show to the bullying crisis in America. One could argue that his entire show portrays Anderson as a quiet activist who reports stories of injustice – no matter the type. He lets his journalism do the talking.

So, what’s wrong with that?

The argument for following the gay rulebook is something that Mike Signorile and Perez Hilton have been preaching for years. They believe that by not coming out of the closet publicly, people like Anderson Cooper send a message of shame to the rest of the community, country, world, universe, solar system, etc – especially to those in the closet.

I disagree.

Is the world a better place for having Anderson out of the closet? Sure. But let him and other public figures do so on their own terms. Shame is something that is created. In the case of the glass closet, the shame behind it has been created by the media – not the person inside it (Anderson). Unless you’re watching Sex & The City, glass closets don’t exist. They’ve been fabricated by the media as a way TO SHAME the people supposedly living inside them.

As someone who’s spent a good portion of his life living in shame created from sexual abuse, I can tell you right now that it’s an awful feeling – one that you would not wish on your worst enemy. <—— See that word? Enemy. In essence, people such as Mike Signorile and Perez Hilton are creating more enemies than friends within their own community. Most people I know have never heard of Mike, but everyone I know despises Perez Hilton – largely because of what he’s done to ‘out’ the personal lives of his fellow gays.

If people such as Mike Signorile and Perez Hilton are not going to evolve with society, then maybe we should help them to realize that it’s not the private lives of public figures, such as Anderson Cooper, that should be held responsible for holding the torch-of-societal integration of gays. Being an activist is a choice, not an obligation. If you want to really help to change the small minds of middle America, people need to be able to come out on their own terms. Instead, why not spend your time helping to educate ignorant parents about how to support their children through their journey?

Who someone has sex with is their business. The kind of sex they like is their business. Who you are in the bedroom and in your personal life is not a juicy piece of gossip. The real shame is in people such as Mike and Perez making people feel a-shamed about their own personal decisions. Shaming someone is an awful way to get your point across. I appreciate the intention to ‘normalize’ and integrate gay people in with the rest of society, but there are better ways to do it than trying to make public figures speak about their personal lives.

Fred Hystere

The (Summer) Hotness: Hi Fashion

Hi Fashion Special Delivery Single Peaches Crystal WatersHi Fashion is an electropop (hate that term as it doesn’t do them justice) duo from LA, comprised of Jen DM and Rick Gradone; who have been blowing up my iPod non-stop with their latest single, Special Delivery.

Thanks to some sick 90s style pulsating production, Rick’s perfect 90s dance falsetto and Jen’s powerful vocals (which recall 90s dance diva, Crystal Waters, among others), there’s little doubt in my mind that Special Delivery is the definitive summer anthem of 2012. The song takes Hi Fashion’s sound to a whole new level and reminds us all that dance music should not only make you wanna move your ass, but it should be stuck in your head for days and give you a smile every time you think about it.

Soundwise, Hi Fashion’s music is extremely diverse. Their debut EP, 2011’s Sprechen Sie Hi Fashion, features a vast musical arsenal that recalls a little bit of old school Le Tigre, Peaches, Deeelite and even a little Sleater-Kinney energy, too.  As a whole, they have an incredible knack for writing hooks and creating music that effortlessly skips around different genres; touching on each one of their musical influences. Sometimes they’re political and usually they’re dance-y; but they’re always fun – and that comes across loud and clear.

It’s refreshing to see a band who uses “fun” as the primary building block for everything they do, while still having some incredible songwriting chops to back it up. If this is Hi Fashion 2.0, consider me an eager fan awaiting their next move.

As I said before, Special Delivery is my song of the summer and I have no doubt that you’ll all be eating this one up. 90s dance done right.

Check out the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G video for Special Delivery below and keep an eye out for my one-on-two interview with Jenn and Rick; which I shall post later this week. Enjoy!

*Hi Fashion’s latest single, Special Delivery, is out now and self-released.


Hi Fashion “Special Delivery”

The (Super) Hotness: Aaron Alexis

Aaron Alexis This FireMaybe it’s because I’ve been working out a bunch. Maybe it’s because it’s summer. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t gotten laid in a while. Either way, the hormones are a ragin these days, and Aaron Alexis isn’t helping.

Who is Aaron Alexis, you ask? Well, he’s a solo artist living in Brooklyn who possesses one of the most sensual sexual and seductive voices this side of Al Green. Aaron pairs his music with really interesting production that at times pulls from trip hop, synth pop, house music, tropical pop and more. To say his taste is eclectic would be a giant understatement – which is why I think I’m so drawn to his sound. The only common thread throughout the collection of songs I’ve been privy to hear in demo form is that they’re all backed by his beautiful voice – well, that, and the fact that they’re all HOT.

Currently unsigned, Aaron is self-releasing all of his music. But if there’s any justice in the world, he’ll be snatched up by someone with a real ear for talent. His sound is not only unique, but it’s extremely marketable; the type of music that should be heard en masse. (<—-that means ‘by a lot of people’ right?)

Here’s to hopin.

Check out my current favorite track, This Fire; download it for free and spread the word!


Aaron Alexis “This Fire”


The Hotness: Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi is the recording moniker of Seattle-based solo artist, K Ishibashi.

K’s a violinist and lead member of a synth-y NYC-based band named Jupiter One (that I believe I’ve written about before). He’s also traveled the world playing with many well-known acts, including Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche, and (most famously – at least to me) Of Montreal.

Aside from Regina Spektor and a few Jupiter One songs, I’m not a very big fan of any of the rest of the bands K has lent his immense talent to. However, I’m quickly becoming a MASSIVE fan of his breathtaking solo work. Joyful Noise Recordings released his Kickstarter-funded debut album, 151a, back in April and I have to say that it’s easily one of the most stunning records to come out in 2012.

Each song feels as though it’s been created with the violin as its foundation; sweeping and swaying, plucking and trucking.  151a initially proved to be the perfect lullaby to get me to sleep during all of the rough months I went through earlier this year with my health; but it’s now acting as the perfect summer daytime companion every time I step out into the big bad world of Manhattan. (Ok, I know that sounds corny, but just roll with it, ok?)

Clocking in at a mere Damian Rice-like 34 ½ minutes in length, it never feels too short; perfectly satisfying my daily need to hear something beautiful. Another album full of romance, both happy and sad, I highly recommend picking up this beauty.

Check out two of my favorite tracks, Manchester and (The Mamas and the Papas/Beach Boys-ish) I Am The Antichrist To You.

*Kishi Bashi’s debut album, 151a, is out now via Joyful Noise Recordings.


Kishi Bashi “Manchester”

      02 Manchester


Kishi Bashi “I Am The Antichrist To You”

      08 I Am the Antichrist to You


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