Anderson Cooper finally revealed what just about anyone who knows him, or has read about him already knows. He’s gay. At 45, he finally chose to officially come out of the closet. But why now?
“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,” Anderson said in a statement.
Cooper joined CNN in 2001 and has climbed the ranks to anchor the acclaimed “Anderson 360.” He’s also been their go-to guy to cover big breaking stories like Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill.
The CNN broadcaster explained his reasons to Daily Beast columnist and gay rights activist Andrew Sullivan. The two have been friends for years. “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,” he said.
“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,” Cooper added.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
But he chose to finally openly declare his homosexuality because he felt in fueled a “mistaken impression” that “I am trying to hide something—something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid,” he explained. “This is distressing because it is simply not true.”
He said he was also motivated by recent news articles about gay youths being bullied because of their sexual orientation. That made it the right time to step forward.
“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,” the broadcaster said.
“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.”
Gays have also made great strides toward more equality in recent months. President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage and favorable rulings by several courts suggest the tide is turning against the stigma of being gay.
Prominent voices who openly declare their sexuality can make a difference, and Cooper decided it was time for him to take that road.