Robin Roberts says she almost turned down Barack Obama interview because of fear of being ‘outed’

‘I’m not going to accomplish everything, but by golly, fear is not going to be the reason why I’m not’

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Monday 25 April 2022 22:38 BST
Robin Roberts reveals she nearly turned down Obama interview because of fears of being outed
Robin Roberts reveals she nearly turned down Obama interview because of fears of being outed (Getty Images)

Robin Roberts has spoken candidly about why she nearly turned down an opportunity to interview Barack Obama about marriage equality.

The Good Morning America host, 61, discussed her 2012 interview with former president Obama during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she revealed that she had concerns about the interview and her sexuality, as she didn’t want to be “outed” as gay because of the conversation.

“In 2012, I got a call to go to the White House, and that there was a possibility that then-president Barack Obama would change his stance on marriage equality,” Roberts recalled to DeGeneres. “I had not been public yet about being gay. And I was afraid that I might be outed, that people might wonder: ‘Why is she the one interviewing the president when he’s making this change in his stance?’”

Despite her initial fears, the TV anchor said that she ultimately realised that the opportunity was bigger than her, and had the ability to “impact countless lives”.

“It was kind of like a scene out of Moonstruck: ‘Snap out of it Robin, what are you thinking? It’s not about you, this man is going to impact countless lives,’” she continued. “And it was at that moment that I said: ‘I’m gonna stop letting fear keep me from the things that I want to do.’”

After acknowledging that she is “so grateful” that she decided to interview the then-president, Roberts recalled how, not long after, she opened up about her sexuality on social media.

“Shortly thereafter is when on Instagram, or on social media, I talked about Amber [Laign, her partner],” Roberts said, adding: “And all that fear I had of being a Christian, that people would look at me differently - I was embraced.”

While reflecting on the career opportunity, Roberts acknowledged how often we “let fear keep us on the sidelines,” before noting that she is “so very glad that that’s no longer the case”.

“I’m not going to get everything that I want in life, and I’m not going to accomplish everything, but by golly, fear is not going to be the reason why I’m not,” she added.

During the 2012 interview, the former president declared his support publicly for gay marriage. A year later, Roberts shared a post on Facebook about her relationship with Laign, in which she said that she was “grateful” for her “long-time girlfriend, Amber”.

While speaking with DeGeneres, Roberts also discussed Laign’s diagnosis with breast cancer, with the journalist revealing that her partner of nearly 17 years is “doing well, which is great”.

Acknowledging that she herself “went through it twice” and “barely shed a tear,” Roberts said that she is a “puddle every time I think about what Amber is going through”.

“But she is being so courageous and is handling it extremely well. And I’m able to kind of give her a roadmap because I’ve gone through it, but she’s also given me a roadmap on how to be a caregiver,” she continued.

Roberts had breast cancer in 2007, and was later diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood and bone-marrow disease, in 2012. During the interview, she urged viewers to get their annual check-ups, as she noted that it can “save your life”.

“Like many people, [Laign] had put off going to the doctor during the pandemic, and then at the end of last year, she followed through with a regular breast exam and it was discovered, so the message is: get those regular exams, it can save your life,” she said.

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