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Anderson Cooper says shirtless Richard Gere helped him realize he was gay: 'I couldn't speak'

Cooper had gone along with his mom's gay friends to see the Broadway show 'Bent' starring Gere.

Anderson Cooper says shirtless Richard Gere helped him realize he was gay: 'I couldn't speak'
Image source: Left: Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Right: Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Anderson Cooper has opened up about his sexual awakening and revealed that it was Richard Gere who made him realize he was gay. The Anderson Cooper 360° host said meeting a shirtless Gere was the moment he knew he was gay. Cooper made the revelation on Radio Andy with pal Andy Cohen from the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. Richard Gere had starred in a play titled "Bent" and an 11-year-old Anderson Cooper went along with a couple of his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt's, gay friends—Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and photographer Paul Jasmin—to see the Broadway show that depicts the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. "They took me to see Richard Gere in Bent, which if anyone doesn't know about the play Bent, it's about two gay guys in the concentration camp," recalled Cooper, reported PEOPLE. "I mean the opening scene… It is the gayest thing you can imagine."

American Gigolo, 1980/ Paramount Pictures Studios


Cooper said this was shortly after Richard Gere starred in 1977 film "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" and was already a sex symbol. "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. He recalled that the very first scene in the play involved a man getting out of bed completely naked and putting on an SS uniform after sleeping with another man the previous night. That was when it hit Cooper that he was not straight. "And I just remember being like, 'Oh my God, I'm gay. ... I'm totally gay,'" he said, before explaining that he got to see Richard Gere in person. "Paul Jasmin was friends with Richard Gere because Paul Jasmin took the pictures for 'American Gigolo' and we go backstage and Richard Gere is shirtless in his dressing room." Cooper was star-struck and tongue-tied. "I couldn't speak. And I had my "Playbill" (monthly U.S. magazine for theatergoers) and I wanted to get him to autograph it, but I was too — I just couldn't stop staring at his chest," said.



Cooper added that he did eventually get the magazine signed but only after a decade. "Fast forward to 10 years ago, I was interviewing Richard Gere and I took out the Playbill ... and I told him the whole story and I had him sign it. Yeah. He was very tickled with it," said Cooper. Richard Gere was one of the first Hollywood stars to portray a gay man on Broadway when he acted in "Bent" directed by Martin Sherman. "Because it was two gay characters, I did not think it was dangerous for me at all. I've never thought about it in career terms," said Gere, reported Broadway world. Gere said it was the heart of the story that stuck out for him. "For me, it was a brilliant play about the human yearning for love and how irrelevant it is if you are a man or a woman or an insect or a dog." Richard Gere went on to become one of the leading stars in Hollywood. His role in the film "American Gigolo" established him as a leading man and a sex symbol. Some of his other big hits include "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "RUNAWAY Bride," "Arbitrage" and "Chicago."

Anderson Cooper has two children—Wyatt Morgan, 2, and 4-month-old Sebastian Luke—with ex-partner Benjamin Maisani. He spoke about their parenting situation. "I've always believed that if you've been with somebody and that ends, in terms of an intimate relationship, if you love somebody, there's no reason why that love shouldn't continue," said Cooper.

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