As you already know, October is LGBT History Month. Each week throughout the month, we will be profiling two of the people named to Equality Forum’s LGBT History Month icon lists, to showcase the great things LGBT people have done, and are doing.

Anderson Cooper (born June 3, 1967) 

lgbt cooperAnderson Cooper was born in New York City, the son of writer Wyatt Cooper and the heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. He was thrust into the limelight early, first appearing on television at the age of three and was signed by Ford Models at the age of 10. He dealt with tragedies very early in his life, such as the death of his father in 1978 and the suicide of his brother in 1988. It was the suicide of his brother that caused Anderson Cooper to become interested in pursuing journalism as a career path.After graduating from Yale University, he tried applying for an entry-level job with ABC in New York City and was unsuccessful to land even a job answering telephones. From there, he funded a trip to Southeast Asia and produced his own news segments about the military junta in Myanmar. Channel One, a news organization for schoolchildren, bought the segments and gave him his first media exposure. He followed his tour in Myanmar with a year in Vietnam.ABC finally noticed him and he started as a news reporter in their New York City bureau in 1995, eventually becoming anchor of the overnight news program World News Now. While at ABC, he also hosted the reality TV series The Mole (2000-2002). In 2002 he switched networks to CNN, first anchoring the morning program with Paula Zahn, and then earning his own series, Anderson Cooper 360, in 2003. It was at CNN that the world became aware of his globetrotting original reporting, sharing breaking news with millions live from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, from Niger during a killer famine, from Sri Lanka after the killer Indian Ocean tsunami, and from Tahrir Square in Cairo before, during and after the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Arab Spring.In 2011 Cooper started production on his own daytime talk show. Rumors of his homosexuality, considered an “open secret” in many circles, began to reverberate as it was considered hypocritical of him to enter into a genre which asks celebrities to share their personal lives, yet he was not willing to share his life with his viewers. He finally came out to the public in July 2012 to widespread support, but his daytime talk show format never resonated with viewers, and was canceled in 2013. Throughout his career, he has won two GLAAD Media Awards, four Emmy Awards, and a Peabody Award.

Nathan Lane (born February 3, 1956)

nathanLane was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and was a graduate of St. Peter’s Preparatory High School. Originally named “Joseph,” he took the name “Nathan” in college from the character Nathan Detroit, lead role in the musical Guys and Dolls. He earned a Drama Desk nomination for his Broadway debut in Present Laughter (1982). He also appeared in the plays Merlin (1983), The Wind in the Willows (1985) and Broadway Bound (1986).
Nathan Lane fulfilled a dream from his youth when he starred in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls in 1992, playing the lead character that was the inspiration for his stage name. He secured his first Tony Award nomination for this performance. He would go on to perform in 10 Broadway productions in the next ten years, winning two Tony Awards for his participation in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1996) and The Producers (2001). He would also appear in the cult gay film Jeffrey (1995) and his leading role opposite Robin Williams inThe Birdcage (1996) would earn him his first Golden Globe Award nomination. Lane’s voice could be heard in the films The Lion King (1994) and The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) as Timon, and in Stuart Little (1999) as Snowbell.Lane reprised his role in The Producers for a 2005 film adaptation, earning him another Golden Globe nomination. He would also win the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his work on the West End stage production, in which he was cast at the last minute. He was also well-received in the plays November (2007), Waiting for Godot (2009), and the musical adaptation of The Addams Family (2010). For his work in the theater and in film, he has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most recently he has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for his recurring role on the sitcom Modern Family, as “Pepper.”Lane, who has been out to the public since the 1990s, has been given various awards from advocacy organizations such as The Trevor Project Hero Award, the GLAAD Media Awards Vito Russo Award, and the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award. He has also served on the board of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for many years.