You wouldn’t think it would be all that revolutionary. But when I saw the blog post by Andy Towle at Towleroad pointing out that we may have experienced a first, it was rather stunning to consider.
Thomas Roberts, who is increasingly a presence on MSNBC despite being a contract anchor, interviews Rachel Maddow about her piece on closeted soldiers. Roberts–who came out rather publicly at an NLGJA conference–is one of the few openly gay anchors or reporters on national television. Maddow is easily the most high-profile LGBT person in television journalism.
So when the two of them appear on screen together to talk about LGBT issues, it is oddly momentous.
One of the goals of NLGJA is to encourage the visibility and presence of LGBT journalists in newsrooms. While that effort has had success in print, radio and online newsrooms, the success has been more muted in local television and pretty limited in national television.
One can name the openly LGBT national anchors/hosts on one hand and still have fingers left to hold a fork. The number of openly LGBT reporters on the cable shows and the network is also small, but slightly larger. In a strange twist, lesbian visibility is higher in the anchor/ host world while gay men dominate the visibility among reporters.
This is an area where NLGJA can continue to focus. Why is it that there are so few openly LGBT people in network news? What are the barriers? Why is it that in 2010 this is news that two openly LGBT TV journalists shared a screen?