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When Cooper was 11, he was in the audience as Gere performed in a Broadway production of Bent, about two gay men in a concentration camp.
"And I just remember being like, 'Oh my God, I'm gay. ... I'm totally gay,'" the CNN anchor and journalist told his friend Andy Cohen during his Friday appearance on Radio Andy, Cohen's SiriusXM show. "I mean the opening scene… It is the gayest thing you can imagine."
Cindy Ord/Getty for SiriusXM; Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Anderson Cooper says seeing a young, shirtless Richard Gere helped him realize he's gay.
The play opens with a naked man waking up after spending the night with another man, then dressing himself in an SS uniform. And with that, Anderson's eyes were opened.
"This was Richard Gere in 1977, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He was so beautiful," Cooper said.
Speaking from Stonewall Inn in New York City, Cooper, 55, recalled attending the show with photographer Paul Jasmin and Jasmin's boyfriend, who were friends of Cooper's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Jasmin had photographed Gere for the film American Gigolo, so the trio headed backstage to greet Gere after the show.
"I couldn't speak," Cooper said. "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."
But don't worry — the story has a happy ending. Ten years ago, Cooper was interviewing Gere and brought up their first meeting. "I took out the Playbill," he said, "and I told him the whole story, and I had him sign it. Yeah. He was very tickled with it."
Radio Andy, which covers pop culture, music, news, and more, airs on Sirius XM's channel 102. Check out the clip of Anderson gushing over Gere below.
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