News anchor comes out to viewers on live TV: ‘I’m so nervous right now’

A news anchor has come out as gay on live TV, saying he wanted to show viewers his “authentic self”. 

Jason Hackett, who presents Sunrise on news station KARE 11, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, came out after he was asked to be on the cover of LGBTQ+ magazine Lavender.

“I’ve been living in a glass closet for the most part,” Hackett said, using the term to reveal that he was out to friends and family, but not publicly. 

“I wanted to let you out there, the viewers out there [who] wake up with me every morning, know a little bit more about me.”

The journalist, who joined KARE 11 last year, went on: “Coming out to people is never easy for me, I’m so nervous right now… this is no doubt the most people I’ve ever come out to at once.

“But what… everyone here on Sunrise strives for is authenticity, and I can’t preach that without being my authentic self. I want to say a big thank you to KARE 11 for allowing me the space, more than any other station that I’ve worked at in the past 13 years, to just be me.” 

Hackett’s colleagues reacted emotionally after the announcement, pointing out that it was his birthday.

“I know this was so hard for you, and I’m so proud of you,” co-anchor Alicia Lewis said, fighting back tears. “I’m so excited for you to sign the cover of Lavender magazine.”

Going into more detail the magazine, Hackett said he grew up in a religious family and hadn’t believed that being out was an option. 

“When I was young, there wasn’t much representation in terms of media for Black gay men,” he said. “There were some niche shows here or there, or supporting characters [who] would pop up in a sitcom, [who] would be a stereotype, but there weren’t many portrayals of regular every-day gay men.

“I kind of wish I had that sometimes as a kid, somebody I could look up to and say: ‘Man, he’s making it, so can I. He’s living his life, so can I’.

“It’d be nice to think that after this story is published, and after my story is told, that there is another young, gay, Black – or anybody of colour – kid out there [who] is like: ‘Wow, he is being his authentic self and he’s not getting killed for it, he’s not getting criticised… maybe I can also be my authentic self, maybe I can also live my truth, just like Jason is’.”

Hackett follows Ohio news anchor Taylor Bruck, who came out live on air last year. She was praised by viewers when she casually referred to her girlfriend.

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