Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is speaking out about coming out.
Smith, managing editor of the conservative network, revealed last month that while he always knew he was “different” than his peers growing up in Mississippi, he feels he never had the need to out himself – because he was never in.
“Someone asked me if Roger Ailes had been abusive to me, and I said, ‘No. He was always good to me,” and that was the truth,” Smith said during a talk at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism, where he was once a student. “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.”
Smith was raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, a conservative, religious town where he says boys wore “khaki shorts and starched white shirts, and we all do what everybody else does.” It’s this culture of conformity he credits for the delay in being able to “live his truth,” which he says only began eight or nine years ago.
As his career blossomed, Smith says he took on more and more work and traveled often so as to not have to confront his inner turmoil, even skipping personal milestones like his sister’s wedding.
“Other people needed to get home… to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband,” he explained of his workaholic days. “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.”
While Smith accepted he was different, he had his reasons for attempting to avoid the subject.
“A. You’re going to hell for it, B. You’ll never have any friends again,” he said. “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.”
Still, as a well-respected journalist, Smith knows a good scoop when he sees one. And as far as he’s concerned, his sexuality remains a non-issue.
“I don’t think about it. It’s not a thing,” he said. “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.”