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Chris Armstrong Talks Gay Bullying With Anderson Cooper


Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan student body president who has been targeted by homophobic Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell, appeared on bully-fighting hero Anderson Cooper's CNN show last night to discuss the trauma he's endured since Shirvell began his anti-gay blog.

The cool, collected, well-spoken and handsome Armstrong used the opportunity to highlight the plight facing gay teens around the world:

But, you know, I felt that, like, seeing these kids, you know, they feel like they need to take their life. It's important to understand that things can get better. And it's important to know that you can reach out in your community. You can reach out to friends, and they can -- they can support you.

Watch Armstrong and Cooper's entire exchange, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The comments on this article are pretty telling. People who think a 20 year old forced into the national spotlight giving an interview on national television should be a smooth talker, as if he were in some sort of debate. Then all the talk about Anderson coming out of closet.

    Focus girls, FOCUS!

    If anyone has been following Phelps vs. Snyder at the Supreme Court, which boils down to "free speech" vs. "outrageous speech" expect a ruling in favor of Mr. Snyder, the father of the fallen solider, whose funeral the Phelps clans protested at and subsequently made disparaging remarks on their blog.

    This plays right into this case and could very well open up this asswipe Shirvell to a lawsuit. If our resident legal analyst would like to way in, that would be appreciated.

    Posted by: Keith | Oct 7, 2010 10:35:33 AM

  2. Personally, I am glad that his speech is all "UMS" and "LIKES." He is a college kid and talks accordingly. What I took from this is that he is a kid. One loses that in all the media, but hearing him speak changes it. It really humanizes the situation. His nervousness and almost lack of understanding of why he is targeted really is something that needed to be seen.

    Posted by: Joe | Oct 7, 2010 10:40:22 AM

  3. like um what?

    Posted by: bo | Oct 7, 2010 10:47:31 AM

  4. As far as Anderson coming out. He lives in my neighborhood and goes to my predominately gay gym. He is not exactly hiding it.

    Posted by: Manhattanvince | Oct 7, 2010 10:51:54 AM

  5. What a handsome, wonderful kid. Shirvell must be very jealous of him and has a crush on him. That could be the only reason a grown man his age would tareget an innocent kid for such treatment. How sad.

    As for Chris's articulateness, I understood him very well, and I liked the fact that he was not a smooth talker. He is being harassed by a crazy, self-loathing closet case, a man in a position of power, and this situation and his sexuality are forced out into the national spotlight, at least. Then he is talking with the very attractive, and famous gay guy Anderson Cooper. Cut him a little slack people. I have to wonder if a lot of you are picking on him because of his speech simply because the topic of bullying and harassment makes you uncomfortable, given that at some point you may have experienced the same treatment or worse; it serves as a distraction from a painful issue. I also have to say that if Armstrong were a smooth talker a lot of people would say that he is using his sexuality and his situation with Shirvell to get attention for himself, attention he did not want and was unprepared for. Queens always have to complain about something, I guess.

    As for Anderson coming out nationally or internationally, why should he? He has a boyfriend, whom he has been spotted with, and does not pretend to be straight. He was also raised not to publicly discuss his romantic life. I was brought up the same way, and this dictum applied whether a person was gay or straight. And even if a person has small or large fame it is still distasteful to publicly to talk about one's love life. I just bet that when Chris came out he didn't put an announcement in the paper for all the world to know; he just gradually told those whom mattered most in life. Isn't that what most gays, private or public individuals, do? The very fact that Anderson is willing to devote so much time to the issue of gay/possibly gay kids being bullied, their suicides,attempted suicides, met with Armstrong, and denounced Shirvell, already makes him a role model for all people, not simply gays. If you want a gay role model, Armstrong himself is a good candidate. Again, it is an inspiration to see such a hansome, intelligent, well-mannered guy be out and proud.

    You could see in Anderson's eyes as he talked to Chris that he was very moved by his situation, and felt it personally. Chris knew it too, and that was why the interview went so well. You could also see that at the end of the interview, both Anderson and Chris understood each other and admired each other. It would be more helpful if people tried to be more understanding to Anderson.

    I do think that all bullying at the secondary school level shoud be addressed, not just that of gay/possibly gay kids. All bullying causes great emotional damage, and plenty of kids commit, or at least attempt, suicide. We should all address the matter

    Posted by: Gabe R L | Oct 7, 2010 11:48:59 AM

  6. Wow, this is the site for bitter queens to post! All the criticism of this kid and Mr. Cooper (a liberal homophobe? give me a fucking break) just show that the internet is perfect for people who just want to sit on their asses and not do anything. I've got to stop reading the responses because this is just sad.

    Posted by: db | Oct 7, 2010 11:54:35 AM

  7. The vitriol I read here is, at best, ridiculous. The issue here is homophobic bullying by a figure of authority, not public speaking or celebrities in closets.

    On the comment about young people, I must say that it is highly disingenuous. Check your statistics please. Never this many people spoke this well and were this well informed and educated, in the history of the world...

    Posted by: Helio | Oct 7, 2010 12:07:02 PM

  8. @DB: The person who called Anderson Cooper a "liberal homophobe" is Towleroad's very own gimp. We try to keep him locked in a cage under the stairs with a ball-gag tightly fitted into his mouth, but he occasionally escapes. Just smack him a few times with a broom and he'll go back to his home.

    Posted by: crispy | Oct 7, 2010 12:25:19 PM

  9. I don't think observations are necessarily criticisms. I was taken aback by Armstrong's near stuttering nervousness and poor speaking ability. I base my comparison on PLENTY of 20-something kids I know who are amazingly articulate and able public speakers. Not every kid has to have that ability and I don't judge Armstrong poorly because he does not. But since he is in this situation because of being Student Body President, I guess I just assumed he'd have better public speaking skills.

    That's a quibble. More to the point was that the interview was kinda vague, but it's wonderful that Armstrong broke his silence and has added to the chorus of voices coming out, better late than never, against bullying and intimidation.

    Posted by: Zlick | Oct 7, 2010 12:53:49 PM

  10. @Reallythink, I kind think it would be great if Anderson came out, but as I think about it I think he is in a more powerful position because he isn't out (though everyone knows).

    I think groups like NOM and other anti-gay hate groups would refuse to come on his show - making it impossible to crush them. I also think that him being in his glass closet makes it easier for him to do these reports on bullying (which he has always done) because it keeps his execs from wondering if he is being "too gay." I think it makes it easier for him to discuss gay issues on his show. Because of this, I actually think his ally status (and the fact that everyone who isn't a straight woman or a christianist knows he is gay) helps him to reach out and push these issues in the media.

    Also to be fair to Armstrong, I would be pretty nervous sitting across from someone as beautiful as Anderson Cooper.

    Posted by: Joe | Oct 7, 2010 1:01:16 PM

  11. It's really sad and pathetic that instead of commenting on the fact that this young man has the balls to go on national tv and talk about what it feels like to be cyber-stalked, all we get to see are nasty comments about his public speaking ability.

    It takes YEARS to develop the poise Cooper has, and even he let the occasional "uhm" escape his lips during the interview.

    How about we stop chopping people down for a few seconds and focus on the fact that we have someone who is willing to get on camera to be interviewed about his experiences being stalked and harassed.

    Posted by: DR | Oct 7, 2010 1:19:10 PM

  12. Due to the impending protection from harassment suit, a detailed interview was likely prohibited.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 7, 2010 1:45:05 PM

  13. Ladies! Now that you've recrucified a young man who's being stalked by a psycho who makes Norman Bates look sane, do you feel better about yourselves? I hope so. I'm glad the internet wasn't around 50 years ago when I was being bullied; talk about eating your young! Chris Armstrong needs love and support and you queens turn into English teachers? Is that really what's important? Think about it!

    Posted by: mad1026 | Oct 7, 2010 1:50:40 PM

  14. no question anderson was flirting

    Posted by: chris | Oct 7, 2010 1:57:23 PM

  15. "cool, collected, well-spoken" <- This description might be a little bit off base. He's young and comes off quite nervous, but I'm sure he'll get better with experience.

    Posted by: David | Oct 7, 2010 2:08:29 PM

  16. "His lineage (the Vanderbilts and Coopers) do not address their personal life in public-period."

    Yeah, I used to buy that line, too. Until he was talking to "Dr." Phil about his own brother's suicide.

    Posted by: BobN | Oct 7, 2010 2:30:17 PM

  17. Armstrong might have been "cool, collected and handsome", but he certainly was not well-spoken. The guy was somewhat inarticulate. Perhaps he was nervous to be on national TV and couldn't keep his thoughts focused. There were just way too many "like, you know, um, sort of, kinda, and so forth". Makes one wonder how he got elected student body president. Personal charm must go a long way in campus elections. Still, he was courageous to go public on CNN and present himself as charmingly as he did. Andrew Sharvell needs to be fired and we need to harass Sharvell until that ass-wipe breaks under the strain.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 7, 2010 2:44:11 PM

  18. I agree with Joe. It is more refreshing to see a real person in interviews instead of some prepared and scripted speech. It probably won't help TV ratings as most people don't have patience and expected only smooth talks.

    Posted by: simon | Oct 7, 2010 2:57:33 PM

  19. It is sad that a state official has resorted to becoming a bully when in fact we have a bully watch going on in this country. I believe that Shirvell is a sad individual that needs to become open-minded before someone files a lawsuil against him and he loses his job. In fact, he should lose his job due to the neglect and abuse of his "power" as an authority figure. Mike Cox should also be held accountable for his actions in the fact that he isn't disciplining shirvell. I will not vote for Cox since he cannot fix the members of his staff. How can he be trusted to fix Michigan's economy? Hmmm...
    With Armstrong, he is doing his best in the position that he was elected for and thus a true leader. He should take shirvell job!! Bullying has no place, not even in congress!

    Posted by: Chase | Oct 7, 2010 3:21:40 PM

  20. the man is still a kid. he is confronting a strong armada. let us be real, here. when we were in college, testing the waters of fresh-found liberty, which one of us thought that we would be plunged into the bright lights of infamy. the bully here is the deranged man who stalks the young man. anderson is shining the bright light of sanity into this abyss. it makes no never mind whether cooper comes out as gay. that is a side issue. the issue before us is whether a demented individual can stalk someone with impunity.

    i get so tired of the sissies that make anderson cooper the story. whether he comes out is neither here nor there. let us not lose sight of the message: college student being stalked by an employee of a state government.

    Posted by: nic | Oct 7, 2010 3:27:35 PM

  21. @Jimmy, I would love to hear how you speak on national tv at nineteen years old.

    Posted by: oliver | Oct 7, 2010 3:31:24 PM

  22. @Jimmy, did you by any chance hear Andrew Shirvell on this very same show? A man whom is considerably older than Chris Armstrong and is an Asst District Attorney, and sounds like he's 12 years old.

    Posted by: oliver | Oct 7, 2010 3:33:32 PM

  23. You guys are so critical of Chris but he's handling it well and for being on national television and having a stalker who's also a government official, I think he sounds great. I understand that people who have been torn down often want to tear down others, but really? You sound like a bunch of bitter comment trolling queens.

    Posted by: Vinny's Boyfriend | Oct 7, 2010 3:40:11 PM

  24. Oh, where to begin. First I'll start with the obvious: Mike Cox's name. Heh heh. What a dumbass he is. He expressed embarrassment for Shirvell not for his conduct but for the attention he was receiving, which is completely self-created. Cox described him as a "front line grunt" whose work is "satisfactory." Not the way I'd like to be described by an employer. Nice that he also went on national television oblivious to the fact that Shirvell was banned from stepping foot on U of M soil - Shirvell's own alma mater, as Shirvell pointed out. Whereas Cox is a dumbass, Shirvell is a full-tilt dumbass who needs an IQ a good 30 points higher to be just a regular stupid person. My crazy radar beeped right away just in the way he said "Hello Anderson." No leg to stand on, no facts to support his behavior; just a disaster. The sad thing is that this level of stupidity is being legitimized in this era of politics. You can know nothing and behave horribly as long as you hide behind values, the Bible, or the "G" word. By the "G" word, of course, I mean Geezus. That's how Jesus will be correctly spelled if we continue on our current track of allowing idiots to hijack the national discourse, which they are doing.

    Posted by: Steve | Oct 7, 2010 4:04:08 PM

  25. bad interview. unwatchable. uninteresting. i wouldn't have aired it. and yes, i also expect the SBP of such a good school to be more articulate than this kid. especially in a softball interview with an ally.

    Posted by: pete | Oct 7, 2010 4:40:04 PM

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