Out national television news anchors Robin Roberts and Sam Champion will each receive National Leadership Awards Oct. 6 at the 22nd annual National LGBTQ Task Force Gala in Miami Beach.
“Visibility is important for the LGBTQ community because being reflected in the media, politics, sports and everywhere is a powerful form of inclusion,” Roberts told the Miami Herald on Friday. “We have more work to do, but I’m proud to be a part of the ongoing effort.”
Roberts, a longtime ESPN sports anchor, became “Good Morning America” co-anchor in 2005. “Under her leadership, the broadcast has won five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Morning Program and the 2017 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Daytime TV Hosting Team,” according to the ABC News website.
In 2007-08, Roberts documented her successful treatment for breast cancer and in 2012 similarly covered her medical battle against the blood disease myelodysplastic syndrome. In December 2013, she publicly acknowledged her longtime partner, Amber Laign.
“I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together,” Roberts, now 57, posted at the time on Facebook.
“By coming out as a lesbian while a national news personality, Robin Roberts has been a role model for countless LGBTQ people,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “We are excited to honor her as a lesbian woman and media leader. Roberts stands for who we are and what is important in our society: authentic, genuine, courageous and dedicated to the hard work of journalism.”
Champion is a five-time Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning meteorologist and network TV anchor.
“Sam Champion broke ground for many in the news industry when he came out, and we applaud him for his efforts,” Carey said. “We honor his commitment to our community and his work, especially right now when media is continuously unfairly disparaged by our own government. The Task Force supports the press in its important work to report the truth.”
Also to be honored at the Miami Beach gala: South Florida LGBTQ community leaders Charles Million and Tim Nardi, a longtime couple, will receive the 2018 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award.
Champion, 56, of Miami Beach, spent 25 years at ABC, first forecasting weather at ABC7 Eyewitness News in New York and then on the network’s “Good Morning America.” He left the program in 2014 and spent two years anchoring at The Weather Channel.
Lots of publicity came in late 2012 when he and Brazilian-born artist Rubem Robierb married in New York and had a New Year’s Eve reception at home in South Beach.
In 2014, Champion told the Herald: “I didn’t want to make an issue out of my personal life before I fell in love. And America, quite frankly, wasn’t involved in knowing the background of the people who delivered information before. I take issue with the fact that I came out when we got married. I was out since I was 30.”
Now, Champion — who’s been guesting recently on “Good Morning, America” — says it’s time for him (and all other LGBTQ people) to take their visibility to the next level.
“There’s a lot of us, my generation and younger, who thought that visibility was enough to protect our rights, but I don’t think that’s true today,” Champion told the Herald on Wednesday. “We have to pay homage to those generations that came before and gained our hard-fought rights. We have to honor them by being loud and visible and voters.”
The Miami gala, which last year honored Gloria Estefan, happens one month before the November elections.
Said Champion: “I never considered myself to be political, but I hope that we can inspire the room to leave the gala energized and ready to protect everyone’s rights in America.”
If you go
▪ What: The 2018 National LGBTQ Task Force Gala gala
▪ When: 6:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 6
▪ Where: Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave.
▪ Tickets: $450 each including a cocktail reception, three-course dinner, and the awards ceremony, as well as live music entertainment
▪ More: A portion of the proceeds is donated to The Miami Foundation’s LGBTQ Community Fund and distributed to multiple organizations serving the LGBTQ community in South Florida. thetaskforcegala.org