Billy Eichner
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Anderson Cooper: 'Shirtless Richard Gere Helped Me Realize I Was Gay'

anderson cooper and richard gere

What was the moment you knew you were gay?

For Anderson Cooper, the moment came early, thanks to some of his famous mom’s famous gay friends. While on Radio Andy with his BFF Andy Cohen, Cooper revealed what it was like growing up in a house with his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, who famously had a lot of gay friends (including Truman Capote and Gore Vidal), and how it helped him figure out his own sexuality.

Cooper told a story about how one time his mother had sent little Anderson off to see a play with gay photographer Paul Jasmin and his boyfriend when he was eleven years old. That play was Bent, which is about gay men in Nazi Germany. 

“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 camp,” Cooper said. “I mean the opening scene...it is the gayest thing you can imagine.

“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,” he continued. “And I just remember being like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gay...I’m totally gay.’” 

But the story doesn’t end there.

“And afterward, Paul Jasmin was friends with Richard Gere, 'cause Paul Jasmin took the pictures for American Gigolo,” Cooper explained. “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 also opened up about when he came out to his mother around a decade later, and she at first reacted with trepidation, telling him, “well, don’t make any definition decisions.” While it hurt at first, Cooper later found out that Vanderbilt was taken away from her mother as a child because her mother was accused of being a lesbian in a 1932 trial and was fearful something similar would happen to her own son.

Thankfully, Cooper later got the whole story and his mother fully accepted and supported him until her death.

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