When you work in television news, you don’t think very deeply about your own life. In journalism school, you’re taught not to. But life is life. We all live it every day. And we all have a story. Here is mine.
I grew up in a house filled with love. I lost my father at eight years old, but I was blessed with a mother who filled that void. Was it always easy? No. But she made it feel like it was.
I’m not exactly sure when I realized I was gay, but I think it was actually around those very early years. What can I say, I was ahead of my time!
It was fourteen years later when my truth finally came “out”.
I told a few friends at first. Let’s be honest; they already knew. But isn’t that the case with good friends?
Being gay at my age still wasn’t easy. My best friend at the time was straighter than straight. He knew (he later told me that), but he was still my best friend. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I actually give him a lot of credit.
But, who am I kidding; the “other F word” was still dropped around me often, though not directed toward me. Heck, even my sister was a fan of the phrase “That’s Gay” to describe stupid life situations. Awkward! I wasn’t being made fun of or beaten up, but, let’s just say, it was uncomfortable. And trust me; I know people have endured far worse.
Back to that term, “uncomfortable”. I wasn’t just uncomfortable with the people around me, I was uncomfortable with myself. And believe it or not, I have this crazy world of television news to thank for changing that.
My first job out of college was as an overnight writer for WSVN, a local FOX affiliate in Miami. 2-8am for $7 an hour. Clearly, I wasn’t in it for the money. But I got something invaluable out of my six-month stint there. It was there that I met my best friend to this day, a morning anchor who happened to be gay himself. And so began my journey toward personal acceptance and to acceptance into what I’d like to call the “gay television mafia”.
Let me let you in on a little secret about television news. A lot of us are gay, and the rest are, well, big fans of us. Being in this industry has helped me feel comfortable in my skin. It’s allowed me to be open about my sexuality to people I never thought I’d be able to tell.
If you had asked me ten years ago if I would ever tell my mother, I’d say you were crazy. She’s known now for years and embraces it.
And I’ve been able to report on the most amazing advances since Stonewall for the LGBT community. I remember watching the breaking news (and it was breaking news back then) when my home state of Connecticut embraced marriage equality back in 2008. Now we have nineteen states and the District of Columbia on board. Same-sex marriage bans are falling like dominoes. Just Wednesday, federal judges ruled against bans in Utah and Indiana. You may not have even heard about those rulings because, the thing is, it’s no longer front page news. And that’s a good thing.
As we approach the culmination of Pride Month, what strikes me the most is that being accepted no longer strikes me as surprising. Being gay no longer defines me. Being in television news helped me write my story.