For decades Leslie Roberts has been a familiar name and face on television screens across Canada.
Now anchoring CTV Morning Live in Ottawa, for his friends and colleagues, his sexuality has never been a secret.
He has been living as an openly gay man for many years.
But he’s never talked about it publicly. He’s never shared this part of his life with his audience, until today.
“I’m a news anchor who just happens to be gay. I’m not a gay news anchor.”
Today is National Coming Out Day, and Roberts feels the time is right.
“I’ve never worked at a place that has been more inclusive and welcoming.”
He came out privately to work colleagues back in 1989, and he found the reaction chilling. It affected him for years.
“I was married at the time. I had a young daughter. And the first thing everybody said was this is career suicide. This will not connect with the viewers. This will mean the end of your career in television. Things have changed”.
Newsrooms back then were not progressive or welcoming places.
“Those awful jokes, those horrible words that would further drive the shame into you. They’re not being used anymore” he says.
Roberts knows some younger people may not think this is a big step for him. But he points out older people remember and understand the pressure gay people in the public eye were under.
“When I told my father the first thing he said to me was ‘your life is going to be harder because of this’ He didn’t know how to help.”
“I had no role models I had absolutely no one to talk to. I knew I was different, I knew that I was not like everybody else.”
He regrets it has taken him this long and admits when Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, someone he covers every day in the news, came out it gave him a bit of a nudge.
“I owed it to the audience to be more authentic. I also owed it to my soul.”
“The truth is, if I knew then what I know now, I know I would not be alone.”
And advice for parents who have children struggling with their sexuality?
“Love them. Support them. Talk with them and know that it’s going to be ok.”
And some advice to any younger people who may be struggling.
“And to the kids who are watching, I say go for it. It’s never been a better time.”
Why today? Because, says Leslie, the fight is not over. pic.twitter.com/71PjRVMGeo— CTVMorningLiveOttawa (@CTVOttMornLive) October 11, 2019
Me too! https://t.co/Yek6dfT86L— Annette Goerner (@annettegoerner) October 11, 2019