“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," Cooper writes.
Cooper’s sexual orientation has been an open secret for years, but he has previously avoided any explicit mention of it in public forums, including his own memoir.
Cooper, 45, says he avoided the question in his 2007 book, Dispatches from the Edge
A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, because the book was about war, not his personal life.
“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,” he writes. “As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn't matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked ‘the gay question’, which happens occasionally.”
Cooper’s letter is a response to a blog entry by Sullivan. The famed British-born conservative and openly gay pundit had asked Cooper to comment on an Entertainment Weekly story about how a number of gay and lesbian media figures have recently come out amid little hoopla, but in a matter of fact, mellow, manner.
Sullivan, 48, a devout Roman Catholic whose advocacy for gay marriage has alienated some of his fellow conservatives, moved Cooper to make that step and finally answer “the gay question.”
Writes Cooper, “recently … I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid.”
Cooper says he feels anything but shame and fear over his sexuality and he’s never hidden it from people in his private life.
“I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues,” he writes in the open letter.
“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.”
Cooper concludes with a note about love.
“I love, and I am loved,” he writes.
“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.”
CNN has yet to release a statement. (Ought they?)
PHOTO 2: Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan inspired Cooper to declare his homosexuality.