Appearing on CNN’s “Full Circle” on Monday, Cooper gave a remarkably candid answer when a viewer asked him when he first realized he was gay and at what point he learned to accept it.
“I was probably ... 7 when I kind of realized,” he said. “I’m not sure I knew the word ‘gay’ at the time. But I realized something was up, something was different. It was probably, yeah, 6 or 7.”
The 53-year-old went on to note that he began opening up about his sexuality to friends in high school, but it wasn’t until after college that he “really, truly accepted it [and] fully embraced it.”
Until that point, Cooper said he’d struggled to come to terms with his authentic self, knowing that he couldn’t pursue his interest in joining the military or travel to certain countries for “safety reasons.”
“It wasn’t what I envisioned for my life,” he explained. “I imagined a family and getting married and all those things, which weren’t possible at the time.”
Young adulthood, Cooper said, was a turning point.
“About a year out of college, I thought I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about this and sort of wishing I was some other way. I [wanted to] embrace who I am,” he said.
After years of media speculation about his private life, Cooper publicly announced his sexuality in a 2012 email to writer Andrew Sullivan. “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,” he wrote in the email, which he’d given Sullivan permission to publish.
Nearly nine years later, Cooper’s professional life remains in high gear. And last year, he reached a personal milestone when he became a first-time dad to son Wyatt Morgan, whom he is raising with former partner Benjamin Maisani.
In previous interviews, Cooper has said he considers being gay to be “one of the great blessings of my life” ― a point he reiterated in his “Full Circle” appearance this week.
“It’s enabled me to love the people that I’ve loved and have the life that I’ve had,” he said. “I’m very blessed.”