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December 30th, 2013
05:46 PM ET

Robin Roberts reveals she is gay

(CNN) - "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts inspired millions of viewers as she publicly fought a blood disorder diagnosis last year.

Thankfully, she won.

Now, as Roberts celebrates more than a year of recovery, she is making news again.

She took to Facebook last night to acknowledge her health, her happiness, and her longtime companion, writing, "I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends ... "

Yes, Robin Roberts is gay. The reaction has been as subtle as the announcement itself.

"It seems increasingly odd, especially to a younger generation, for famous people to have difficulty in being honest about something as fundamental as their sexuality," said Aaron Hicklin, editor-in-chief of Out Magazine.

Roberts' former co-host Sam Champion may have helped pave the way when he celebrated his engagement to his partner, live on "Good Morning America" last year, telling viewers, "I am so, so lucky to have someone like this in my life."

But in a way, Roberts was following the template of CNN's own Anderson Cooper. He came out in July 2012 in an e-mail to blogger Andrew Sullivan and, like Roberts, was on vacation when he did so.

"I think it's just important to send a message to, especially young people, that there's nothing to be ashamed of, and that, you know, you can be successful, and you can have a life, and you can have many interests, and this is one part of your life," Cooper said in September, when his talk show launched.

With such casual announcements, it might be easy to forget that in the recent past and even today, coming out of the closet could mean being pushed out of your profession.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres faced risks head on when she came out to talk show host Oprah Winfrey in 1997, and caused a national uproar when her popular TV sitcom character followed suit.

Back then, less than 35% of Americans supported same-sex marriage, according to Gallup polls. In the years that followed, celebrity sexuality remained the stuff of magazine covers.

"We tend to think of celebrities as we think of friends. And the fact is, that if you know somebody who's gay, you tend to be less prejudiced, more open-minded, more supportive yourself," said Hicklin.

The Supreme Court bolstered same-sex marriage in two different rulings this year, and public support of gay marriage hit 53%, according to Gallup polls.

But the fact that it took Roberts until this week to come out shows society still has a long way to go, according to Hicklin.

"The fact that Robin was not able to come out earlier, someone who has been in a committed relationship for ten years, I think should make a lot of people feel ashamed," said Hicklin.

But that delay may just be an acknowledgment of the tens of millions of religious Americans who, like "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson, consider homosexuality to be a sin. This may simply be a business decision, more than anything else, not to alienate those viewers. But as more stars come out, that strategy may fade.

"It really is a cumulative process, continues to gather steam. And I do think we're going to be looking very soon at a time when the very idea of coming out seems anachronistic," said Hicklin.

Roberts has received a largely positive response, including a tweet from First Lady Michelle Obama, who wrote, "Robin Roberts, I am so happy for you and Amber! You continue to make us all proud."

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