Shepard Smith recently opened up about coming out as gay while working at Fox News. The journalist joined the Fox News Channel in 1996, and remains with the conservative news network two decades later.
Smith opened up during a recent talk at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Smith was attending “It Starts With MEek,” a conference promoting diversity and inclusivity at the school.
Shepard Smith on using work to escape his own reality:
“I’m just traveling, traveling, traveling and popping up all over… And other people needed to get home to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband. And I didn’t need to do that. I needed to sort of escape what my own reality might have been, because I wasn’t answering my own questions, or even posing my own questions to myself about what it is that is different about me”
“I’m really not different. I really like all the same stuff y’all boys like. All of it. But I am different.”
Shepard Smith on not questioning his sexuality:
“And that’s why it wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth. I grew up in Holly Springs, I went to the First Methodist Church and I went to Ole Miss.”
“You know what we do. We wear khakis and starched white shirts, and we all do what everybody else does. And Hotty Toddy! Y’all wear dresses. We wear khakis. We are drunk by 10 p.m.”
“‘I’m not making that 8 o’clock (class). What are you doing on Friday?’ I didn’t get it. And on top of that, I was also trying to avoid what having a normal social life is. I didn’t need to go home and find my girlfriend or boyfriend. I just cut it off (and said), ‘Where do you want me? Next plane?’”
On never hiding his sexuality and just avoiding the question:
“A. You’re going to hell for it,” he said, listing the reasons he avoided the subject. “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. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt.”
One day he decided to confront his fears. He talked with his closest friends and began to live his truth.
“Someone asked me if Roger Ailes (founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group) had been abusive to me, and I said, ‘No. He was always good to me,’ and that was the truth. (Ailes resigned in July 2016 following allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues.) And when I told the truth, I guess it was considered that I outed myself. I didn’t even think about it, because I didn’t think I was in.”
On his sexuality as both important and a non-issue:
“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 [and] I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with.”