Black History Month: Profiles of LGBT African-Americans of Note, Part 2: Robin Roberts
Black History Month is observed every February to commemorate the important people and momentous events in African-American history. Hotspots honors Black History Month by profiling black LGBT people who have made noteworthy achievements in their personal or professional lives.
Robin Roberts was born on November 23, 1960 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She grew up in the small town of Pass Christian, Mississippi, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Growing up, she was a very good student, excelling in basketball and tennis and graduating from Pass Christian High School as her class’s salutatorian. She has an older sister, Sally-Ann, who is well-known in New Orleans as a longtime news anchor with CBS affiliate WWL-TV.
Roberts visited Louisiana State University, who wanted her on their basketball team, but she found the big campus to be too impersonal. By chance, on her way back she saw a sign for Southeastern Louisiana University, decided to tour the campus, and decided to enroll. During her time at Southeastern Louisiana she scored over 1,400 points and grabbed over 1,000 rebounds, only one of three players to grab 1,000 career rebounds and score 1,000 points. Her number at Southeastern Louisiana, 21, was eventually retired.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1983. Over the next six years years, she worked as a sports anchor at four different TV stations in four markets: WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi; WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee and WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work in Atlanta was noticed by executives at ESPN, who hired her to anchor the sports news program SportsCenter in February 1990. She became the first black female anchor on ESPN. She would call SportsCenter home for the next 15 years, even after she would begin to pull duty by working at the morning program "Good Morning America" as a newsreader and reporter, starting in 1995.
The dual network arrangement would come to an end in 2005 when Roberts was promoted to co-anchor of "Good Morning America" alongside Diane Sawyer. She left ESPN on good terms, as her ABC News work had taken up too much of her time. Currently she hosts the program with George Stephanopoulos. In 2012 she was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, and had to take a leave of absence from the program. After a bone marrow transplant and lengthy recovery, she returned to television in February 2013. Her health struggles were chronicled heavily on "Good Morning America" and in the press at large.
On December 29, 2013, Roberts came out as a lesbian via a Facebook post, in which she thanked God for her good health and for her partner of 10 years, massage therapist Amber Laign. She had long been out in her personal life but this was the first time she acknowledged her orientation to the public.