GLAAD summer interns, together with GLAAD's Operations Coordinator Lauren Herold and Vice President of Communications & Programs Rich Ferraro, headed to NBCUniversal at 30 Rock, where we got to watch a portion of the filming for the network's morning talk show, "Morning Joe." We even got to sit down and talk with openly gay show host Thomas Roberts.
We presented Thomas with the GLAAD Media Award trophy which he received earlier this year for Outstanding TV Journalism Segment for his report on "Gay Rights at Work" which aired on MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts last year. The segment, featuring LGBT advocate Richard Socarides, took a in-depth look at the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and discussed the need for employment protections for LGBT people. It was one of many segments that Roberts dedicated to LGBT issues last year and aired at a time when national news media was largely overlooking issues like job discrimination. Roberts is known for covering underreported LGBT isssues such as transgender equality as well as profiling LGBT Russians and LGBT youth like current GLAAD intern Jacob Rudolph. Roberts was also nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2013 for "Scout Mom Dismissed," one of the first times that Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell spoke out about the Boy Scouts of America ousting her as her son's den mother because she is gay.
Roberts was the first national cable news anchor to marry a same-sex partner in 2012. He came out publicly while speaking at the annual convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in Miami in 2006, and later hosted that group's annual benefit in New York. He became a member of a panel called "Off Camera: The Challenge of LGBT TV Anchors," saying that the conference was the biggest step he had taken to really be out and proud. Together with many other news anchors, he has participated in GLAAD's Spirit Day by wearing purple on-air and speaking out in support of LGBT youth and against bullying. Roberts continued his inspirational work for the LGBT community in 2010 when he created an emotionally charged video for the It Gets Better Project in which he spoke about his own coming out journey and offered advice to struggling LGBT people.
Roberts received an Emmy nomination in 2002 for his work on the documentary "Parvo Puppies," which he also received Virginia Associated Press award for. He also received an Edward R. Murrow award for producing a documentary called "Why Parents Don't Pay." The Human Rights Campaign honored him with the 2011 Visibility Award in San Francisco.
Roberts interviewed GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis for a "Morning Joe" segment this past February. They took a tour of the office and talked about her role at GLAAD, as well as her hopes for the future of the LGBT community.
When GLAAD interns spoke with Roberts, he was eager to hear each of our stories and to share his own insight on being out in the media industry, as well. He asked us about our work at GLAAD and what we hope to do in the future. On coming out, Roberts said, "Once you decide to be authentic, you don't have to keep deciding it every day. You just keep being that way."