Anderson Cooper Comes Out: "The Fact Is, I'm Gay"

The 45-year-old CNN anchor publicly acknowledges his sexual orientation, saying that he's "happy, comfortable with myself, and proud"

This just in: Anderson Cooper is out of the closet. After years of remaining mute about his personal life, the 45-year-old CNN anchor has announced that he is gay and proud. Though Cooper has never denied or hidden his sexual orientation, he publicly acknowledged it for the first time in an open letter to his longtime friend, political journalist Andrew Sullivan.

"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," Cooper writes in the letter, which was published on Monday by The Daily Beast.

"I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues," he continues. "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 letter was inspired by a cover story in the new Entertainment Weekly, which discusses the "casual coming-out" of gay celebrities like Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Neil Patrick Harris, Wanda Sykes and Jane Lynch. Cooper is named in that article as a celebrity whose sexuality has been openly discussed, even as he has attempted to keep his love life private. In his letter to Sullivan, the TV personality explains some of his 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," he writes. "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."

In Cooper's opinion, a reporter's personal life -- including their religion, sexual orientation and political beliefs -- should remain private as a matter of principle. However, he admits that his decision to keep quiet about his sexuality has had "unintended outcomes" that he's not happy about.

"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," says the Anderson host. "This is distressing because it is simply not true."

It's clear from his letter that Cooper still values his privacy (for instance, he doesn't name his boyfriend), and that he doesn't want his announcement to affect his journalism career. Honestly, Cooper's sexuality has been an open secret for ages, and we doubt that his letter will change his career one iota. What it will do is give one more prominent face to the movement for gay equality in America. And even though Cooper explicitly doesn't want to be an activist, his announcement will make a difference to anyone who has felt marginalized because of who they love. He's showing the world that he's not ashamed of who he loves, and encouraging his fans of all backgrounds to accept this.

"In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God's greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life," writes Cooper. "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."

So yes, it may not be a shock or even a surprise that Anderson Cooper has come out as gay. But it's still a big deal.

See photos of gay celebrities who have come out!

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