Almost at the end of an October 5th New York Times article on the wedding of openly gay MSNBC anchor Thom Roberts was a hidden gem:
Among the 170 or so guests at the reception was Sam Champion, the weather anchor at ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He took a turn on the dance floor with his partner, the photographer Rubem Robierb.
“We’re getting married New Year’s Eve in Miami,” Mr. Champion said in the spirit of the moment.
Mr. Robierb corrected him: “We’ll do it here officially, and then have a party in Miami.”
And so with that, Sam Champion came out. No big announcement, just a by-the-way quote. An article on October 8th by Jack Mirkinson, media editor at The Huffington Post, picks up on that observation:
The announcement on Friday that ABC News weatherman Sam Champion is marrying his boyfriend is yet another sign that gay marriage and gay rights are increasingly becoming a settled issue in many corners of the media.
These days, a well-known television personality can both publicly announce that he’s gay and share news of his engagement at the same time, and have the entire news division he works for celebrate the news, with nobody batting an eye. This is, of course, as it should be — but that doesn’t make it any less noteworthy.
Though much of the media is ostensibly “objective” and avoids taking stands on particular issues, there are certain things that are settled questions. It is broadly acceptable, for instance, for a Wolf Blitzer type to denounce racism or anti-Semitism, even though Blitzer would never reveal who he voted for, or what he thinks about abortion.
It’s becoming apparent that support for gay rights could be on its way to being one of those things that everyone takes for granted. That’s why the way the news of Champion’s engagement unfolded is so instructive.
NLGJA congratulated Champion on the day of the NYT article with this statement:
We want to applaud and recognize Good Morning America weatherman Sam Champion, who came out publicly for the first time today and announced his engagement.
“On behalf of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to Sam Champion, who has been a longtime supporter of our efforts,” said NLGJA President Michael Triplett.
“Journalists who acknowledge their sexual orientation, especially those on television, become important role models for the next generation, who see that they can be honest, succeed in this profession and be respected as journalists. The strong support that journalists who have come out in recent years have received from their peers and their viewers will hopefully spark others to live their lives openly.
Being a native New Yorker, I remember Champion as the local ABC weatherman. Even back then I certainly heard rumors he was gay. Although to many people he was hiding in plain sight (remember Anderson Cooper anyone?), he might say that he wasn’t hiding, just not telling, at least not on the record, until now.
I do sincerely hope that the way this all played out encourages others. The water is warm, and it seems like it’s only getting warmer.