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Nate Berkus Talks Being Gay, Coming Out And Loss Of Longtime Partner With Joy Behar

10/21/2012 09:14 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Beloved interior designer Nate Berkus spoke at length about his coming out process in a new interview with Joy Behar.

"I knew that I was a gay boy fairly early; what was interesting to me was that my mother didn't know," the 41-year-old Berkus, who's currently promoting his semi-autobiographical new book, "The Things That Matter," told Behar. "She made me play baseball -- I had no desire to do that. I said, 'Mom, I don't like direct sunlight, I don't like bugs, I don't like grass, and I'd rather be in the house playing with your fabric samples.'"

Nothing that he "wasn't particularly a sensitive kid," Berkus told Behar that he came out when he was in college. "Once I came out, I never went back," he recalled.

Though the style guru says he didn't intend for "The Things That Matter" to read like a memoir, he believes his personal experiences -- which include the presumed death of longtime partner Fernando Bengoechea, with whom Berkus was vacationing in Sri Lanka when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit -- helped shape his sense of aesthetics. "I realized that being gay, that growing up around design, that losing my partner in the tsunami...that all shaped and formed my own personal style."

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