CNN anchor and daytime talk show host Anderson Cooper fueled the headline mill today by revealing to The Daily Beast that he is “gay, always have been, always will be” and that he “couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”
Because we live in an era where everyone’s opinions suddenly matter (Twitter, anyone?) the admission should generate plenty of water cooler chat and late-night talk show banter in the coming days. But there was something Cooper revealed in his email interview with The Daily Beast that was more illuminating than revealing his sexuality—basically he’s always believed “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.”
Cooper went on to say that he’s “stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked ‘the gay question,’ which happens occasionally.”
In my interview with Cooper in late 2010, he spoke candidly about the importance of being a journalist, noting, that while growing up, he admired the professionalism of journalist Gordon Parks, a friend of his father, Wyatt Cooper and mother, fashion maven, Gloria Vanderbilt.
“I was really interested in events as they were happening and it didn’t really occur to me that I could actually do it myself, but it was like watching history, watching a living history,” Cooper told me.
Over the last two decades, Cooper, now 45, has travelled the world significantly and managed to create a legacy for himself as a respectable journalist. Having seen so much—and much of it tragedy—when asked how he stayed grounded amidst some of the challenges he witnessed—Hurricane Katrina, the devastation in Haiti, to note a few, he said: “You know, it’s not a question of staying grounded, it’s a question of not becoming overwhelmed by all the things that you see. At times, it’s hugely depressing. A lot of the places I go, horrific things have happened. You see people at their worst, but also, often, people at their best—people who really rise to the occasion; people who, in the face of great adversity, show themselves to have enormous stores of strength, enormous stores of kindness for, sometimes, complete strangers.
“I’m not a complete starry-eyed optimist,” he added. “I am pretty realistic. But there is a lot of hope—it’s sometimes hard to see it.”
So, why come out in the open now?
The Daily Beast interview reveals that while Cooper has always been out to his family, friends and colleagues, he says that lately, “there continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, a 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.”