Anderson Cooper says he realized he was gay after meeting shirtless Richard Gere backstage at a Broadway play

Side by side of Anderson Cooper in a purple shirt and black jacket and Richard Gere in a tuxedo and bow tie

Anderson Cooper attends CNN Heroes: All-Star Tribute in New York City on December 12, 2021; Richard Gere attends the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on January 6, 2019.Dominik Bindl/Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

  • Anderson Cooper shared the moment he realized he was gay on ‘Radio Andy’ on Friday.

  • Cooper said he came to this conclusion after seeing Richard Gere in the 1979 Broadway play “Bent.”

  • Cooper said he met a shirtless Gere backstage after the show and “couldn’t talk”.

Anderson Cooper opened up about realizing he was gay on Friday during the “Andy Cohen Live Pride Special” on SiriusXM’s “Radio Andy.”

The CNN host sat down with Cohen and actor John Hill at the iconic Stonewall Inn in New York City. People reports Cooper remembered watching the Broadway play “Bent” late 1970s with photographer Paul Jasmin and Jasmin’s boyfriend, who were friends with Cooper’s late mother fashion designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.

Richard Gere starred in the play about the persecution of homosexuality in Nazi Germany.

“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 said.

Cooper called the opening scene, in which a man gets out of bed completely naked and puts on a uniform, “the happiest thing you can imagine.”

“And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m gay. … I’m totally gay,'” he said.

After the play ended, Cooper said that Jasmin took him backstage to meet Gere, with whom he collaborated on the movie “American Gigolo.” Cooper shared that Gere was shirtless in his dressing room when Cooper first met him.

“I couldn’t talk. I had my poster and I wanted to ask him to sign it, but I just couldn’t stop staring at his chest,” Cooper told Cohen.

The moment was right for Cooper when he later interviewed Richard Gere and asked him to sign the original playbill. He said Gere was “very tickled” by the story.

Representatives for Cooper and Gere did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen and John Hill laugh at a table with a white and iridescent tablecloth with microphones

Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen and John Hill record a live broadcast of “Andy Cohen Live” at The Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 24, 2022.Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Cooper also shared more about how he came out to his mom. He said he didn’t tell her he was gay until he graduated, and while she was “cool about it,” she told him not to make “final decisions.” Cooper came out publicly in 2012.

In a 2016 interview with Jess Cagle and People from Entertainment WeeklyVanderbilt told Cooper she had a “brief so-called lesbian relationship” when she was 13. Vanderbilt also said her understanding of LGBTQ issues was shaped by the gossip surrounding her mother, who was “accused” of being a lesbian during the 1932 custody battle between Vanderbilt’s parents.

“I think almost everyone goes through it at some point. The point is that now we realize there is no difference,” Vanderbilt told People and EW at the time. “Love is love.”

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