by Josh Grossberg | Mon., Jul. 2, 2012 9:35 AM
Anderson Cooper would rather cover the news, not be the news. But in this case, he's making headlines to put this question to bed once and for all.
"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," the CNN journalist told The Daily Beast columnist and gay rights activist Andrew Sullivan.
The CNN journalist came out after being asked by Sullivan, himself gay and a friend for more than two decades, to comment on the idea of gay public figures who declare their sexuality in a "restrained and matter-of-fact way."
"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. 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 said, citing safety reasons since his job takes him to war zones and other dangerous places.
"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," continued the Anderson Cooper 360° host. "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."
However, Anderson felt that his "remaining silent" about his personal life has unintentionally fueled a "mistaken impression" that "I am trying to hide something—something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid."
"This is distressing because it is simply not true," he said.
Acknowledging the public outrage over recent stories of gay youths being bullied and similar incidents of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Cooper added the time was right to make the declaration.
"I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. 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 anchor and talk show host said.
Anderson concluded by thanking Sullivan for allowing him to share his thoughts with his readers.
"I love, and I am loved. 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," he 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."
CNN had no comment on the matter.
In an email to E! News, however, Sullivan said both he and Cooper "agreed to let the post speak for itself."
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick meanwhile praised the veteran reporter for his declaration.
"Even prior to coming out publicly, Anderson's terrific work has raised awareness of inequalities facing LGBT people," he said. "I'm proud to call him my friend. He's a role model to millions and now will inspire countless others."
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