Anderson Cooper has come out in an interview in which he bluntly says: “The fact is, I’m gay.” The CNN news anchor said that he did not want people to think he was “trying to hide something” and that he is proud of who he is.
In candid comments, he said he was taking a stand because “the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible”.
The 45-year-old Cooper added that he had been moved by recent events such as President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage – and he hoped his example will put an end to bullying.
Cooper’s sexuality has long been an open secret in TV circles, but for him to state it publicly is a brave and bold move.
He is also one of the most high profile people to come out in recent years, given that he hosts CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and his own daytime TV talk show.
Cooper came out by giving permission for friend Andrew Sullivan, who is openly gay, to print an e-mail exchange between them on the Daily Beast.
In it he said: “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.
“I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues.
“I love, and I am loved,” he told Sullivan in the Monday letter.
“In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.”
In the interview, Cooper added that he had not addressed his sexuality in his memoir which he wrote in 2006 because it was about war reporting and he “didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life”.
He had also long thought that being a journalist, he should not become the story, so did not respond “even when I’ve been directly asked the ‘gay question’.”
What changed is that Cooper now worries that he could be setting a bad example by not being honest with the public.
He said: “Recently I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle.
“It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.
“There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.”
Cooper’s comments appear to be a reference to the case of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him while he was having sex with a man.
Cooper also suggested that Obama’s backing of gay marriage might have made a difference, as did the decision to allow gay couples in New York to marry.
He said that on balance he had come out because “visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy”.
His going public will be old news to some, especially those who know him in New York where he has been a regular fixture at gay pride events.
Celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Joan Rivers took to Twitter to show their support for Cooper.
Most people tweeted that they were proud of him for coming out or called him an inspiration.
Actor Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself and Cooper holding hands while sunbathing.
Joan Rivers tweeted: ‘Thrilled @AndersonCooper came out!
Cooper is said to have a long-term boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani, who runs a bar in Manhattan. The two share his converted fire station home in Greenwich Village.
Cooper is the latest of a growing number of celebrities who include Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto and The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons who have come out in a more relaxed fashion than gay people have in the past. – Daily Mail