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Openly gay anchor Thomas Roberts: the interview

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When I was in Miami at the NLGJA convention, I attended the panel “Off Camera: The Challenges for LGBT TV Anchors,” which featured Thomas Roberts, Anchor, CNN Headline News, and other anchors, including one of my local weekend anchors, Mike Dunston of WTVD. [See my post on the conference and that panel, Where are the lesbian anchorwomen?]

Roberts was engaging and open about the challenges of coming out in the newsroom, and how he’s handled it. has an excellent interview that you should check out, Life as an Openly Gay Journalist. A snippet:

Was he worried about the effect it [appearing on the panel] would have on his career? “I had some concerns, but not enough to stop me from doing it,” Roberts said. “There was some trepidation… about making yourself vulnerable to a group of journalists with questions, to experience being on the other side, being in the hot seat, to come up with thoughtful, truthful answers in the way that I wanted…. It’s the largest step I’ve taken to be more active in the organization, and to interact with other gay journalists….

…How would Roberts advise young lesbian and gay journalists struggling with how open to be about their sexual orientation? “For younger journalists, there are lots of factors to consider,” he said. “There are all kinds of fears we accumulate through high school, college, even going back as far as grade school, that are carried into the adult years. That fear can really hold you back. It (coming out) has to be when people feel… they are ready for it. It’s hard to live afraid…. Hopefully, everyone, gay or straight, journalists or doctors or otherwise, can overcome that obstacle, because it stands in the way of you being the best you can be, with your job, with your family, with everything, and not have to be afraid anymore.”

A class act. Incidentally, just a couple of days following the conference, CNN announced that Roberts’ 4-6 p.m. newscast was cancelled. A connection to his coming out is highly unlikely (that’s covered in this interview) — in the news biz, moves like that are usually in the works for some time. Roberts and Kathleen Kennedy, the article said, will remain at the cable news channel in as-yet-unspecified roles.

* Queer Beacon‘s campaigning for Roberts to give him another time slot on CNN.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding