Anderson Cooper said that a fateful trip to see Richard Gere perform on stage when he was a pre-teen helped him realize he was gay.t
The CNN journalist recalled the story of his sexual awakening to his friend Andy Cohen on Radio Andy on Friday, explaining that two of his mom Gloria Vanderbilt‘s friends, photographer Paul Jasmin and his boyfriend, took him to see a play starring Gere when he was just 11 years old. He explained, “And they took me to see Richard Gere in Bent, which if anyone doesn’t know about the play Bent, it’s about two gay guys in the concentration camps. I mean the opening scene…It is the gayest thing you can imagine.” He added, “And this was Richard Gere in 1977, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He was so beautiful. And I’m there. My mom didn’t go. It was just me and my mom’s two gay friends.”
Cooper went on to recount that within that opening scene there is a moment where a man gets out of bed naked and puts on a Nazi uniform after sleeping with another man. “And I just remember being like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gay…I’m totally gay,’” the reporter said. “Afterward, Paul Jasmin was friends with Richard Gere because Paul Jasmin took the pictures for American Gigolo, and we go backstage and Richard Gere is shirtless in his dressing room and I couldn’t speak.” He continued, “And I had my Playbill and I wanted to get him to autograph it, but I was too—I just couldn’t stop staring at his chest. And so, fast forward to 10 years ago, I was interviewing Richard Gere and I took out the Playbill…and I told him the whole story and I had him sign it. Yeah. He was very tickled with it.”
Cooper publicly revealed his sexuality in 2012 via an essay published on Andrew Sullivan‘s Daily Beast blog. In the piece, he explained that he felt torn between protecting his privacy and serving as an example for young LGBT viewers. “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,” he wrote. “This is distressing because it is simply not true…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.”
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