June 28th, 2015
01:58 PM ET

Reliable Sources: Sam Champion and Rubem Robierb discuss their personal journey of being gay, married and a part of the media

 

Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, The Weather Channel managing editor and anchor, Sam Champion and his husband and fine-arts photographer, Rubem Robierb, joined senior media correspondent Brian Stelter to discuss their personal journey of being gay, married and a part of the media.

Reliable Sources airs Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon (ET).

Text highlights and a full transcript from the show are available below.

Credit all usage to CNN’s “Reliable Sources”

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS:

Champion on if his sexual orientation hurt his career: Oh, many times.  I think that in this business, there are people who will judge you for anything they'll get a chance to judge you on… …I think that in the business, there were a lot of people who had suspicions about abilities based on something they didn't approve of or something they didn't like."

Champion on the progression of same-sex marriage becoming legal nationwide: “When marriage and the ability to proclaim your love and share your love with your family and friends and your community, when that was something that was state by state and not available everywhere, you just didn't feel solid in it.  …to the outside world, you know, to use the word husband, you almost felt like not everybody would understand.  And there was still kind of the feeling that was left for approval, you know, which shouldn't be. I almost feel like we have been lucky.  We are very independent, strong people with strong families and a sense of community. But there are a lot of people in this country who haven't been able to stand up and say who they are and who they love and feel that they were safe in this country. And I hope that changes today.”

Champion on television helping the nation to accept the LGBT community: “I think TV always eases the path for change.  I think what people watch in their homes, what they're comfortable with in their homes leads the way for acceptance in this country.  I think it always has.”

Champion on if he was unable to be open about his sexual orientation throughout his career: “…most of the times I always felt like it didn't matter and it shouldn't matter.  And I didn't want it to become a part of the conversation… … the way you want to be judged, the way you want to be gauged is on your ability, and, in some ways, on your performance, your ability to gather information, your ability to deliver information, your ability to create quality information and your performance at that. I didn't want something that could be a negative detraction to limit my opportunities in the business that I loved."

Robierb on the feedback they received from sharing their engagement/marriage on television: “That's when we got feedback from people that met us at the airports, on the street and congratulated us.  When you have that feedback, it's fantastic, because you feel them - people - feel related with you and they feel good for you, because you maybe have a chance to express yourself in the way they don't.”

Champion on the press withholding information on someone’s sexual orientation: There can be an enormous amount of negativity pushed upon you for being gay.  …So there's a lot of negativity, communal, societal negativity. So I think someone has to be strong enough to handle their life, their family, and their friends before they come out. I don't think we do people a service to push them out until they're ready to handle what can be a negative situation for them. But at the same time, I get when people say we need role models. So we need people who aren't openly gay to come out and say who they are.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

SAM CHAMPION, MANAGING EDITOR & ANCHOR, THE WEATHER CHANNEL:  Nice to see you.

RUBEM ROBIERB:  (INAUDIBLE).

STELTER:  I'm trying to have the moment soak in.  And I'm sure you're trying to do the same thing, trying to process the meaning of this moment. What do you think about when you think about where we are now with the Supreme Court versus where we've been decades in the past?

CHAMPION:  When marriage and the ability to - to proclaim your love and share your love with your family and friends and your community, when that was something that was state by state and not available everywhere, you just didn't feel solid in it.  And to me, there was also - not personally, not with us, but - but to the outside world, you know, to use the word husband, you almost felt like not everybody would understand.  And there was still kind of the feeling that was left for approval, you know, which shouldn't be. I almost feel like we have been lucky.  We are very independent, strong people with strong families and a sense of community.

But there are a lot of people in this country who haven't been able to stand up and say who they are and who they love and feel that they were safe in this country.  And I hope that changes today.

STELTER:  At the time you all met, at the time you all got engaged, you were still on Good Morning America.

CHAMPION:  True.

STELTER:  You had to carefully plan how you were going to be open about this.

CHAMPION:  I think that was more of a respect for the network and not something that we truly cared very much about.

STELTER:  We'll get to this issue of how comfortable viewers might be...

CHAMPION:  Right.

STELTER:  - and this broader issue of how television has, in some ways, helped lead the country to the point we're at now.

CHAMPION:  I think TV always eases the path for change.  I take what people watch in their homes, what they're comfortable with in their homes leads the way for acceptance in this country.  I think it always has.

STELTER:  Has there ever been a time in your career, though, where you felt you couldn't be open about your sexuality?

CHAMPION:  Sure.  But most of the times I always felt like it didn't matter and it shouldn't matter.  And I didn't want it to become a part of the conversation.

For me, Brian, I take, you know, you understand in this business, the way you want to be judged, the way you want to be gauged is on your ability, and, in some ways, on your performance, your ability to gather information, your ability to deliver information, your ability to create quality information and your performance at that. I didn't want something that could be a negative detraction to limit my opportunities in the business that I loved.

STELTER:  What were times in the business, Sam, where you felt maybe people weren't as accepting, at least not quite as accepting as they are now?

CHAMPION:  Well, I think, you know, I've been in the business a long time, Brian.  And, you know, in - by many, I guess, most accounts, more than 30 years.  America is different.  Time is different.  TV is different.  Communities in general are different in what they're accepting of. They weren't gay faces on television when I started.  There was (INAUDIBLE)...

STELTER:  Well, there were, but maybe not openly gay.

CHAMPION:  That's interesting. I take that's probably true.  I mean I'm sure it's true.  But because it wasn't open, there wasn't anything you - anyone you could point to and say look, I aspire to talk about my personal life or have an open personal life because Fred, Angie does it, you know what I mean? There wasn't anyone who - who did that.

STELTER:  That's why it was newsworthy when you did share your engagement and share your marriage on television.

CHAMPION:  And we became to understand it.  We came to understand that.  At first, again, just kind of selfishly and boldly, we just kind of thought, well, this is our life and we're going to have our life.  And it was something that we really started to understand once people started talking to us.

ROBIERB:  That's when we got feedback from people that met us at the airports, on the street and congratulated us.  When you have that feedback, it's fantastic, because you feel them people feel related with you and they feel good for you, because you maybe have a chance to express yourself in the way they don't.

STELTER:  But, you know, not to be negative, but we wonder if there was ever a time where you felt like your sexuality hurt your career in some way or where - where you felt prejudiced against in some way?

CHAMPION:  Oh, many times.  I think that in this business, there are people who will judge you for anything they'll get a chance to judge you on, you know what I mean?

And so I don't feel special for the fact that I was judged, because in most of - well, when I got to New York, anyway, in - at WABC, I was openly gay in the shop at WABC.  I just didn't talk about my personal life to the press.

And then at "Good Morning America," everyone at "Good Morning America" knew who I was and they knew I was gay and they knew who I was dating and they knew who I was engaged to. So I just didn't really talk about it very much. But, yes, I think that in the business, there were a lot of people who had suspicions about abilities based on something they didn't approve of or something they didn't like.

STELTER:  You talked about how it was an open secret at work.

Is it right for the press to withhold that information? I ask because when I was working on my book about morning TV, I knew that you had a - you were gay and that you had a boyfriend and then you - before you were engaged, you know, knew that, but never reported it, never shared it, right? Journalists generally don't try to out people...

CHAMPION:  Yes.

STELTER:  - until they've spoken publicly about it.

CHAMPION:  (INAUDIBLE).

STELTER:  I wonder if sometimes if that's the right choice.

CHAMPION:  There can be an enormous amount of negativity pushed upon you for being gay.  And young people face it in this country every day.

We hear about the suicides.  We hear about the teasing.  We hear about the bullying.  So there's a lot of negativity, communal, societal negativity. So I think someone has to be strong enough to handle their life, their family, and their friends before they come out.  I don't think we do people a service to push them out until they're ready to handle what can be a negative situation for them.

But at the same time, I get when people say we need role models.  So we need people who aren't openly gay to come out and say who they are.

STELTER:  Yes. Thank you both for being here.

CHAMPION:  Brian...

STELTER:  Great talking with you.

CHAMPION:  - awesome to see you.

STELTER:  Thanks.

END INTERVIEW


Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • Reliable Sources
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