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Shepard Smith, chief breaking news anchor at Fox News Network, is speaking out about being a gay man.
The increased openness about his personal life comes during a period of unprecedented upheaval at the news network, following the forced departures of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and the subsequent resignation of co-president Bill Shine amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations.
On the topic of his sexuality, the 53-year-old Smith recently told students at University of Mississippi, his alma mater, “I don’t think about it. It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with.”
The event was a conference on diversity at the Meek School of Journalism, where Smith spoke about growing up in Holly Springs, Miss., attending the First Methodist Church and trying “to avoid what having a normal social life is.”
“It wasn’t until seven or eight or nine years ago, I started living my truth,” Smith said. Before then, every time he considered confronting his same-sex attraction, he would go through the same mental checklist.
“A. You’re going to hell for it. B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way — you’re on television on the craziest conservative network on Earth. That will probably put you in front of a brick wall,” he related.
Instead, Smith repressed his feelings, and even married a woman — Virginia Donald — in 1987. They divorced six years later.
While his sexuality was long the subject of speculation by gossip sites like Gawker — and he found his name appearing with increasing regularity on gay power lists like the Out Magazine 100 — Smith only first came out in the media in October.
It was in a Huffington Post profile in which he voiced support for Ailes as the former CEO faced a bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit from former Fox News on-air personality Gretchen Carlson.
“I loved him like a father,” Smith said of his boss.
Asked by the reporter if Ailes had ever made “homophobic remarks” around him, Smith replied, “No, never. He treated me with respect. Just respect.”
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