Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is talking more openly about his sexual identity, as the network itself tries to rebrand itself following the departure of Roger Ailes and the semi-retirement of founder Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking at a conference in Mississippi on diversity, Smith offered some details about his own story.
“It wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth,” Smith said. “I grew up in Holly Springs (Miss.). I went to the First Methodist Church. I went to Ole Miss. 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.”
In 1987, he dropped out of college two credits short of graduating, and began working on television in Florida. Smith said that at that time, coming out wasn’t something he’d even considered. Married to Virginia Donald from 1987-1993, Smith didn’t really have the option.
“A. You’re going to hell for it,” Smith said about his internal battle over coming out as homosexual. “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.”
Watch Shepherd Smith’s speech:
He continued, “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.”
Smith said rumors that Ailes forbid him from coming out were not true. He first announced he was “gay” in 2016 and added he never had a poor experience with Ailes.
“It’s such a wonderful place,” he said in an interview about the Fox organization, “and it’s been home forever. [Ailes] was very fatherly and mentorish.”
About the reports that Ailes forced him to closet his sexuality, Smith denied it ever happened, but revealed that purported homophobic remarks made by Ailes in the past — but never around Smith — did hurt him.
“He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” Smith admitted. “I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”