TV anchor Jason Hackett comes out publicly just in time for Pride

TV anchor Jason Hackett comes out publicly just in time for Pride

You are currently viewing TV anchor Jason Hackett comes out publicly just in time for Pride
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When Jason Hackett publicly came out this month, the TV news anchor crossed a new threshold. While Hackett has been out to friends and family for years, he always kept his professional identity separate.

That changed a few weeks ago, with one big announcement.

“I am so nervous right now—not gonna lie. This is no doubt the most people I’ve ever come out to at once,” he said from the anchor desk. “But what me and Alicia and John and CeCe and everyone here Sunrise strives for is authenticity. And I can’t preach that without being my authentic self.”

Hackett is a morning news anchor for KARE 11, Minneapolis’ NBC affiliate. The co-host of Sunrise, he appears inside of living rooms across the Twin Cities every weekday at 7:00 a.m.

There is a perception the TV news industry is gay-friendly, given the prevalence of out anchors at major networks (Robin Roberts, Gio Benitez, Anderson Cooper, Sam Champion, Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, Shepard Smith and many, many more). But that’s not the case in every market.

As Hackett explains in an interview with Lavender magazine, an award-winning LGBTQ+ publication in Minneapolis, there are some cities where anchors and reporters stay in a “glass closet.” They’re out IRL, but not on TV.

“I’ve come across a lot of gay people in this business,” he said. “And at my stations, every station I’ve been at, I’ve always been in this glass closet where I’ve told people and people know, and it’s not this huge thing. Initially when I get to these stations, I am hesitant.”

Hackett, whose parents hail from Jamaica, says he knew he was gay in the fifth or sixth grade. But he was hesitant to tell his parents, given their conservative backgrounds.

“My parents are Jamaican immigrants, and Jamaica is not known for being a very friendly country when it comes to the LGBTQ community. I mean, you read of the horrible things with people being dragged and beaten in the streets, kids living in sewers and gutters because their parents don’t accept them, just horrible,” he said.

Hackett met his first boyfriend in college, at the University of Florida. That’s when he worked up the confidence to tell his mom, who already knew, anyway… through a post on social media.

He says his mom continues to evolve on the issue.

“At the end of the day, and my mom told me this recently, ‘I love you and you are my son,’” he said. “And I don’t think she’s at that place of full acceptance, but at least I’ve laid out, ‘This is where my life is and this is who I am, and that’s not going to change.’ And it’s a process, I know she’s not there yet, but I hope that she will be one day.”

Another process for Hackett was coming out to the viewing audience. Prior to arriving in Minneapolis, he worked in more conservative markets, including Panama Beach, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Oklahoma City.

His co-workers knew he was gay, but the people who watched him were in the dark. Hackett wanted that to change.

As a news person, he knows the power of his storytelling. His story, a child of immigrants from Jamaica with modest means, is inspiring.

“For anyone who is watching this now and struggling to find acceptance or struggling with their family or their friends, taking it for me, a gay Black son of immigrants,” he told Sunrise viewers. “The road may not be easy. I won’t lie to you and say that it is. But don’t worry. Keep going. You’re going to make it.”

Hackett’s story is proof of the mantra. He’s already put his newfound platform to good use, partnering with an LGBTQ+ wrestling organization in Minnesota, F1RST Wrestling.

Happily partnered with two dogs, Hackett is living his professional dream as his true self.

There isn’t a better combination than that!

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