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3 Jul 2012

CNN's Anderson Cooper officially comes out as gay

Long known to be in the "glass closet"  a phrase used for a person who is known to be gay but is not out publicly, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has confirmed this week that he is gay.

Anderson Cooper's sexual orientation has long been an open secret for years and in 2007, he was the focus of Out magazine's cover story alongside Hollywood actress Jodie Foster about the glass closet – a situation where public figures are known to be gay but stop short at actually coming out on the record. (Foster came out in December 2007 by paying tribute to her "beautiful Cydney" during a speech at the Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment breakfast.)

The 45-year-old globe-trotting news correspondent and host of “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN has never publicly confirmed or denied his sexual orientation until he comfirmed the fact in an email to his long time friend and Daily Beast writer Andrew Sullivan, who is also gay.

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,” Cooper said in the e-mail published on Monday, which Sullivan said he had Cooper’s permission to share with the world.

Sullivan explained in his column that he had contacted Cooper for his comments on an article published last week in Entertainment Weekly, which reported how the public reaction to gay people in public life who come out has become less of a big deal that in past years.

In the email, Cooper, who has been relunctant to talk about his private life, explained his reasons for not coming out as gay sooner:

Anderson Cooper

"Andrew, as you know, the issue you raise is one that I've thought about for years. Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.

"But I've also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.

"I've always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn't matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn't set out to write about other aspects of my life."

He goes on to explain that he had recently begun to reconsider his position about not coming out publicly as it had inadvertently created a public perception he's "uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid", and that visibility of LGBT people can help counter disrimination and bullying.

"Recently, however, 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.

"I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. 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."

"I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy."

CNN anchor and reporter Don Lemon, who came out as gay last year, was quoted as saying in the Atlanta Journal Constitution when asked about Cooper's coming out: “Kudos to him. I think we should all be positive and happy for him. Even though he’s reached a degree of professional success not many people ever reach, I still think it’s going to be great for him and help him be an even better person and journalist like it did for me.”

Reflecting on his own coming out, he said: “It helps me so much personally. Whatever negatives it may have on my career has been far supplanted by what personal autonomy I’ve gained and confidence it has built. I think anytime you’re true to yourself and open up, it can only help you.”

The US news media has weighed in on the "news":

The LA Times: Anderson Cooper comes out as gay. Does it matter? Yes

Comments and reports from those who know Cooper suggest that the stigma of hiding in the closet finally outweighed the benefits of having a veil of privacy while working as a nonpartisan journalist in a time when gay advocacy has become a mainstream topic of debate.

Nick Denton, the boss over at Gawker — which is prone to outing journalists — said of course he’d been publicly “nagging” Cooper to come out of the closet. 

“You can call that bullying,” Denton, who is gay, wrote in a comment at Gawker. “But without some pressure, there wouldn't be nearly as many public homosexuals. Everybody agrees by now that visibility is essential if one is going to change attitudes. What they don't yet acknowledge is this: for visibility, you need a searing spotlight.”

MTV.com: Why Anderson Cooper Coming Out Matters

Cooper had long been in what many call the "glass closet" — a phrase used for a person who is known to be gay but is not out publicly — and is the latest to step out, after "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons, "Magic Mike" actor Matt Bomer and "Star Trek" actor Zachary Quinto all threw open the closet door in quick succession and with little fanfare earlier this year.

In terms of visibility and the shifting attitudes toward LGBT people, particularly gay men, in the media, Bomer and Cooper now find themselves in different but equally game-changing roles.

The New York TimesRevelation Signals a Shift in Views of Homosexuality

For one of America’s best-known television news anchors to be identified as gay was, until very recently, seen as a potential career-killer.

But then, on Monday, it happened. And the TV nation seemed to shrug.


But his thinking changed over time, just as has the country’s attitudes toward gays and lesbians.

“Our operating assumption,” a former CNN executive said, “was that anybody who cared, already knew, and that most people didn’t care.” The executive, like others interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity to preserve professional relationships.

LA Times: Anderson Cooper says he's gay, and no one is shocked

What we hope is that being gay will become as innocuous a trait as being male or female, blond or brunette, bald or long-haired -- just another personal descriptor and not a lightning rod for debate, a litmus test for politics or a revelation that breaches some sensitive zone of privacy. And the more that the Anderson Coopers of the world simply say that they're gay, the less it will be a big deal that they're gay.

United States

Reader's Comments

1. 2012-07-03 16:26  
He is cute :)
2. 2012-07-03 17:41  
Is he single??
3. 2012-07-03 18:01  
Ho Hum tell us something we didn't already know. No he is not single he has a partner for many years who runs an S&M club in NYC.
Comment edited on 2012-07-03 20:39:51
4. 2012-07-03 18:25  
The "is he, is he not" mystique made him all that more appealing, in my view. Now that the cat's out of the bag, officially that is, that mystique seems to have lost some of its appeal (in my eyes, at least).

I suppose it just boils down to the fact that human beings just want what we cannot have .. haha :-)!
5. 2012-07-03 18:27  
Duuuhhh! - reporting in strife-riddled war zones in immaculate Prada...
Comment #6 was deleted by an administrator on 2012-07-05 00:04
7. 2012-07-03 20:41  
LOL # 5 love the comment.Well he does come from one of the richest and oldest families in America.
8. 2012-07-03 20:54  
Oh gosh, he is cute and he is already taken, soo sad
9. 2012-07-03 21:14  
Look again , look closer ... He looks like an alien.
Seen him on CNN news programs ... He was reporting on Haiti earthquake ...showing sadness but then probably flying off to some holiday resort after ...typical commercial reporter .

Someone mentioned oldest family in the USA ? ...well that's only 300 years old ...he family was probably of very poor origins and had a fair share of /in decimating , exploiting the indigenous native Indians ....

Who cares if he's gay anyway ...
10. 2012-07-03 21:14  
Look again , look closer ... He looks like an alien.
Seen him on CNN news programs ... He was reporting on Haiti earthquake ...showing sadness but then probably flying off to some holiday resort after ...typical commercial reporter .

Someone mentioned oldest family in the USA ? ...well that's only 300 years old ...he family was probably of very poor origins and had a fair share of /in decimating , exploiting the indigenous native Indians ....

Who cares if he's gay anyway ...
11. 2012-07-03 23:11  
welcome on board!
12. 2012-07-04 00:08  
Judging from the inane comments here, Mr. Cooper might end up regretting his "guilt my association." Now, if he had admitted to being a vampire.... ;-)
13. 2012-07-04 00:12  
Anderson is very well known for caring about people, he really caught my attention during his Katrina report in New Orleans. And he is from Vanderbilt family.
Comment #14 was deleted by an administrator on 2012-07-05 00:05
15. 2012-07-04 00:38  
Always curious about his age, because of that unatural white hair, but never bothered to find out, just thought he's a married man. Kind of a shocker
Love the way he carries himself on CNN, very gentle
Comment edited on 2012-07-04 00:40:48
16. 2012-07-04 00:47  
Finally! Another great role model for the community to come out officially. Lovin' Anderson even more
17. 2012-07-04 01:35  
he's a great guy and a great professional. Even though most people already knew, welcome aboard! (officially)
18. 2012-07-04 07:56  
Not very 'shocking' news at all, I thought it was well-known anyway, it's just that he didn't say it.
19. 2012-07-04 09:04  
i knew he is gay... i could tell by the way he moves his tongue when he talks LOL... and it is a boost to the morale of gay community to have an influential person like him become a part of our family.. i just wish he had the same endeavor like that of Lady Gaga, it might help him become one of the highest paid personality..LOL
Comment #20 was deleted by its author on 2012-07-04 09:20
21. 2012-07-04 09:28  
I knew Anderson Cooper is gay, i could tell by the way he moves his tongue when he talks i see much of him on tv... it's a good thing he comes out, it is a boost to the morale of gay community to have him part of it... it is just a bit painful that i could not avail myself of him...he is Hot.. so hot that i would not mind losing my virginity..LOL
22. 2012-07-04 10:27  
for those interested in history, Anderson's ancestors were the Vanderbilts, legendary wealthy family who blew millions building mansions at the turn of the century. His mother is Gloria Vanderbilt.
23. 2012-07-04 11:38  
Anderson is truly an amazing character :) I frequent the bar his bf owns at the East Village in NYC. They work out together every now and then.. Such a positive image and influence for the gay community. So, is Tom Cruise and John Travolta coming out soon too? :)
24. 2012-07-04 13:41  
Now if Tom Cruise would just crack his glass closet... :-)
Comment #25 was deleted by its author on 2012-07-04 13:45
26. 2012-07-04 14:01  
hahaha bludude06
ur funny XD
Comment #27 was deleted by its author on 2012-07-04 14:02
28. 2012-07-04 15:33  
i knew it
29. 2012-07-04 21:44  
I guess the most important point Cooper was trying to put on the table here is whether coming out publicly is an invitation for privacy invasion. And yes more prying questions are often raised as a consequence - from relationship to even family (check the comments above).

But no matter what the consequence are, I believe there's a dire need for Asian people to do so, to come out publicly. Yes, it can be very much a threat to their career and social life, but the positive impact can be equally significant.

Unlike in America, I find that people in my country are poorly educated when it comes to gender or any sexual topic for that matter. Be they the older generation or the younger ones, even those who sometimes come across gay characters on films still often think that being gay is an illness that can be cured.

It's sad, but the lack of correct information is not their fault to begin with. I'm not saying that everyone should come out, no. When the moment's right and you're ready to face the consequences, then do it.

Personally I find my parents confronting their fears and regret of what homosexuality means, as a way to show love - that they want to reach me despite they're still in the dark. But the moment they asked as whether they're many gay people out there, I ran a list of famous names in Asia but hardly found one that they can relate with.

Maybe time will change this, and that like in America, there are more respected gay role-models that help spread gay issues - with positive notes of course. For that, I salute Cooper.
30. 2012-07-04 21:59  
Kudos to a man who has everything and also has the heart and the courage to share everything. He has done a lot for others and has taken the risks to go places where even the "straights" fear to tread. If "gay" needs a good branding, he is the perfect image. Again, kudos to the iconic Anderson!
Comment edited on 2012-07-04 22:01:08
31. 2012-07-04 22:12  
He is one of many respected gay role models.
Comment #32 was deleted by an administrator on 2012-07-05 00:02
33. 2012-07-05 00:55  
If 20 of Singapore's influential GLBT personalities or powerful people (with or without old family history) clash thru' their glass closet, you think it'll change the landscape of acceptance and even renewed policy change?

Come out, come out, wherever you are, you-know-whos.. Big $$ awaits main stream media too if they can give some hint, hint.. All's good and for the better, win-win situation you think?
34. 2012-07-05 02:12  
Just because he's taken doesn't mean he's not dream- or lust-worthy.
35. 2012-07-05 07:54  
What concerns me is that he works for a highly manipulative employer whose perspective as to what constitutes "news" is highly distorted and boh politically biased and motivated.
36. 2012-07-05 12:01  
@35 - that sounds more like Fox News to me!
37. 2012-07-05 12:43  
What I find interesting and maybe a bit disconcerting is that Fridae covers Anderson Cooper finally stepping up and out which was really a non-story since most people suspected...and ignored the truly newsworthy and interesting story of Frank Ocean's admission in an industry and consumer market that is not known for being LGBT-friendly. Go figure...
38. 2012-07-05 13:56  
#37 I suppose you're reading a bit too much between the lines here? I listen to Odd Future, but I'm pretty sure 95% of this site doesn't know who Frank is- and the implications of that context would be totally lost. We all knew Anderson was gay, but now at least it's in the realm of public discourse- that's pretty newsworthy, as weary as it may be.
39. 2012-07-05 14:34  
Does one really need to be "officially" out if he/she is gay?
what about the others who are not gay?

oh, stupid question.
I am sorry, I was typing my thoughts out.
40. 2012-07-05 21:39  
oh is he gay... ?? oh la la lol
41. 2012-07-07 12:57  
He's not single. He has a boyfriend. I don't know either of them personally, but am friends with someone who does.
42. 2012-07-08 14:49  
...completely agree with 24. Time is running out. Tom is getting old and soon to lose his shine. Should he timely break out of the glass cage, he will surely glow like no others. This goes with all other aging stars in the cage... it's now or never.

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