Richard Gere caused a sexual awakening in Anderson Cooper.
Appearing this week on SiriusXM’s “Radio Andy” with his friend Andy Cohen, the CNN anchor revealed that seeing Richard Gere on Broadway as a kid helped him realize he was gay.
“What was it like coming out to Gloria Vanderbilt? I mean, your mom was friends with Truman Capote. You had Gore Vidal at your house. I mean, you grew up…,” Cohen remarked.
“Yeah. There were a lot of gays around,” Cooper said.
“There were a lot of gays around and kind of famous gays,” Cohen continued, to which Cooper responded, “Actually. When I was 11, a friend of my mom’s, a photographer named Paul Jasmin came with his boyfriend, uh, I guess his boyfriend who had a diamond embedded in his front tooth, which I thought was interesting.”
“Which was way before anyone was doing that,” Cohen pointed out.
“Yeah,” Cooper said. “We’re talking 1977. And they took me to see Richard Gere in Bent, which…”
Cohen asked, “Are you kidding me? So, you were 11.”
“Yeah. If anyone doesn’t know about the play, Bent it’s about two gay guys in the concentration camp. I mean the opening scene… It is the gayest thing you can imagine,” Cooper joked.
“Starring Richard Gere, wow,” Cohen noted.
“And this was Richard Gere in 1977, ‘Looking for Mr. Goodbar’,” Cooper added. “He was so beautiful. And I’m there. My mom didn’t go. It was just me and my mom’s two gay friends. And I’m watching this thing and literally the opening scene of Bent, like there’s a guy in bed who has picked up some guy the night before, and the guy he’s picked up gets out bed is completely naked and then puts on his SS stormtrooper uniform.”
He continued, “And I just remember being like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gay. Like, this is… I’m totally gay.’ And afterward, Paul Jasmin was friends with Richard Gere, cause Paul Jasmine took the pictures for ‘American Gigolo’, and we go backstage and Richard Gere is shirtless in his dressing room. And I couldn’t speak. I didn’t. And I had my Playbill and I wanted to get him to autograph it, but I was too… I just couldn’t stop staring his chest. So fast forward to, I dunno, 10 years ago I was interviewing Richard Gere and I took out the Playbill, I had the Playbill still, and I told him the whole story and I had him sign it. Yeah. He was very tickled with it.”
“So, but when did you tell your mom you were gay?” Cohen wondered.
“I think it was the right after I graduated college. But I’d had a boyfriend at that point for three years whom she knew and he used to sleep over and like nobody was making up a spare bed, but she never asked about it. You know?” Anderson said.
“And what did she say?” Cohen asked.
“So I said to her, finally, I stupidly said, ‘I think I’m gay.’ I wanted to kind of couch it. And she said, ‘huh?’ She said, ‘well, don’t make any definite decisions,’” Cooper recalled.
He added, “It was surprising … But she was cool about it. But she was just like, ‘well, don’t make any definite decisions.’ Which was not the response I was expecting. So, I was like, ‘let’s put a pin in it for now.’”
“Did you ever come back to it?” Cohen asked him.
“Yeah, we did. We came back to it and really, it’s too long and boring a story. Her mother was probably bisexual. Her mother was revealed to have had a lesbian relationship during a court battle in 1932. That was a scandal in New York. It shut down the court. And my mom was taken away. My mother’s mother lost custody of her in part because of that, because she was accused of being a lesbian. So there was all this stuff in my mom’s head about that.”