Sullivan reached out to Cooper recently -- the two have been friends for more than 20 years -- to get his take on the recent trend of gay people in public life coming out in unremarkable ways. "In many ways, it's a great development: we're evolved enough not to be gob-smacked when we find out someone's gay," Sullivan wrote in his introduction to the letter. "But it does matter nonetheless, it seems to me, that this is on the record."
Cooper wrote that he has always believed that who reporters vote for, their religion, and who they love, should be kept private. Given his work in dangerous regions of the world where homosexuality is still taboo, Cooper wrote that he didn't want to draw attention to his sexuality. "Recently, however, I've begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle," Cooper added in the letter. 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. This is distressing because it is simply not true."
Those close to Cooper are aware of his sexuality, he wrote. "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."
Sullivan told TPM he is "letting it speak for itself," and declined to comment further on the letter. CNN also declined to comment. Cooper did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment.
The CNN host's sexuality has long been the focus of gossip blogs, and a perennial headline over at Gawker. Former Gawker staff writer Brian Moylan, who covered Cooper for the site, told the New York Observer recently that it's important to give celebrities equal treatment when reporting on their sexuality. "You don't write a profile about Chris Evans being in The Avengers without asking who he's dating," Moylan said. "You ask Daniel Craig about his recent marriage--and he gets pissed off, but you report the answer. Not asking people about who they're dating is discrimination. Plain and simple ... Reporters are under the obligation to ask that question and report the answer. [Mr. Cooper] needs to answer it, and they need to ask it like they would Katie Couric."
In the same article, Gawker founder Nick Denton is quoted asking a panel audience: "Does everybody here know that Anderson Cooper is gay?" Responding to the news of Cooper's coming out, Moylan tweeted:
Congrats to @andersoncooper for finally coming out. I hope I contributed in some small way. And he had to do it while I'm on vacation!!— Brian Moylan (@BrianJMoylan) July 2, 2012