Andy Cohen “always knew [he] wanted a family,” but he admits that he wasn’t sure becoming a father would ever become a reality for him.
“As a gay man, I never thought it was in the cards for me,” the Watch What Happens Live host, who welcomed son Benjamin Allen via surrogate on Feb. 4, told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Editorial Director Jess Cagle in a candid interview for this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
“When I came out to my parents in 1988, my mom said she had to mourn the life that I wasn’t going to be able to have. And that life meant getting married and having kids,” recounts Cohen, 50.
“[At that time] people were dying of AIDS; [that’s] what was happening in the gay community. So all these years later, gay men are raising families and getting married. There were points where I thought that it was too late for me or that I was really focused on my career, and I was having too much fun to think about it. It was still there nagging at me in the back of my head.”
“Turning 50 also played a big part,” Cohen continues. “I just realized that now was the time. From the time I decided, ‘Okay, I’m doing this,’ which was December 2017, for the entire year of 2018 I lived my life as though it was my last year on the planet.”
“I went to London twice. I followed the [Grateful] Dead on tour. I went to Israel for the first time. I went to Europe for three weeks. I took advantage of every opportunity, and it was a joyous, joyous year,” he raves.
“I knew that I was turning a page on that chapter in my life. It’s not to say that I can’t go to a party anymore, but things are changing.”
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Now that he’s 10 days into fatherhood, Cohen has started dreaming even more about the things he can’t wait to experience alongside his baby boy as Benjamin grows up.
“First day of school, bar mitzvah, just tucking him in, being on the beach with him,” the Bravo star tells Cagle of what he’s looking forward to most. “I’m in a place in my life where I have a pretty generous schedule and where I can afford to pick up and go somewhere for the weekend.”
“I’m excited to go on adventures with him and show him the world,” Cohen shares. “I want to see him running around a big green yard. I want to teach him to swim.”
For more about Andy Cohen’s life as a new dad, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.