Anderson Cooper said that "being gay is a blessing" and he "couldn't be more proud" of his sexuality in an exclusive chat with HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-at-Large Michelangelo Signorile.
The award-winning CNN anchor, 45, joined Signorile's SiriusXM OutQ program from Rome, where he is covering the Vatican conclave. In what was deemed as Cooper's only full-length interview ahead of his scheduled appearance at the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards in New York on March 16, the CNN anchor spoke at length about coming out both personally and professionally, being honored with the prestigious Vito Russo Award and the pain of his brother's suicide. (Scroll down to listen to the full interview)
"I've always known I was gay from the time I was a little kid," Cooper, who came out in an email to Andrew Sullivan last summer, recalled. "I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware of it, even before I knew what it was or the name of it."
Of receiving the Vito Russo Award, Cooper noted the honor has "tremendous meaning," adding, "I certainly don't think I'm worthy of it, but if it helps GLAAD and if it helps have more people know who Vito Russo is, then I think it is certainly worthwhile."
After touching on a number of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relevant stories he's covered throughout his career, Cooper also opened up about his brother Carter's 1988 suicide, saying it influenced his own decision to pursue journalism as a profession.
“If you feel like an outsider, you tend to observe things a lot more," he said. "Early on I felt very much like an observer, because I knew I was gay, I knew I was somehow different."
He continued, "If you learn the language of loss early, I think you seek out others who have experienced the same thing, who speak that same language of loss."
Of learning that Madonna would be presenting the Vito Russo Award to him, Cooper said he was "stunned," noting that he was a "huge fan" of the Material Girl's music.
Listen to the full interview with Anderson Cooper below: