CNN anchor and daytime talk show host Anderson Cooper has publicly declared he’s gay.
In discussing last week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story on the emerging trend of celebrities nonchalantly coming out of the closet, Cooper revealed his sexuality to Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan emailed Cooper about the story, noting that public figures revealing their sexuality still matters, even if many are no longer startled by the news. The 45-year-old newsman has always been private about his personal life and has long been rumored to be gay.
“We still have pastors calling for the death of gay people, bullying incidents and suicides among gay kids, and one major political party dedicated to ending the basic civil right to marry the person you love,” Sullivan wrote. “So these ‘non-events’ are still also events of a kind; and they matter. The visibility of gay people is one of the core means for our equality.”
To which Cooper responded:
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. …
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.
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. 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…
Cooper’s full statement to Sullivan is here.
To read EW’s cover package on The New Art of Coming Out in its entirety, including a timeline of how celebrities have handled the issue in recent years, you can download this issue at the Apple Newsstand or Kindle Fire Newsstand.