Anderson Cooper Says Richard Gere Was Part of His Sexual Awakening

The CNN host told the hilarious story about his first interaction with the actor.

Anderson Cooper is getting candid about his sexual awakening! Over the weekend, the Anderson Cooper 360 host joined his friend, Andy Cohen, for a special edition of his SiriusXM show, Andy Cohen Live, where he dished about the moment a naked Richard Gere helped him realize he was gay.  

Cooper shared that at the age of 11, he joined his mother Gloria Vanderbilt’s friend, Paul Jasmin, and his boyfriend for a production of Bent, which tells the story of a gay man in 1930's Berlin. Cooper revealed that it was Gere’s opening scene that changed his life.  

“And this was Richard Gere in 1977, Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” Cooper told Cohen, alluding to his age. “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 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.’” 

Cooper revealed that after the show, he had the chance to meet the actor, but blew his shot at an autograph because he was too nervous.  

“And afterward, Paul Jasmin was friends with Richard Gere, 'cause Paul Jasmin took the pictures for American Gigolo, and we go backstage and Richard Gere is shirtless in his dressing room. And I, I was so, 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 at his chest.” 

Fortunately for Cooper, his moment to meet -- and interview -- Gere came 10 years ago, and he shared the story.  

“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,” he shared. 

Cooper also got candid about coming out to his mother after he graduated from college -- although he had a long-term boyfriend. “So I said to her finally, like, I, I stupidly said, ‘I think I'm gay,’” he said about his conversation with the late fashion designer.  

“I wanted to kind of couch it. And she said, ‘Huh?’ She said, ‘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.’” 

Cooper shared that although Vanderbilt had no issues with his sexuality, a complicated family history warranted that response.  

“Her mother was revealed to have had a lesbian relationship during a court battle in 1932,” the anchor said. “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.”