Lesbian TV personality Jane Velez-Mitchell talks to GSN about the year in LGBT equality
'When we get to see those changes before our eyes, it really is energizing'
Jane Velez-Mitchell may not be as famous as Anderson Cooper, but she gets about as much airtime each night as the host of her own show on CNN’s sister network, HLN.
Velez-Mitchell also beat Cooper out of the closet when in 2007 during a live radio show, she told listeners that she was in a relationship with a woman.
Since then, the 56-year-old television personality has felt more comfortable and fully authentic when covering LGBT topics.
And in 2012, there have been plenty of headline-making stories such as three US states approving gay marriage via ballot measures for the first time and President Barack Obama personally endorsing gay marriage last spring.
‘Even though it wasn’t something that impacted our laws in the sense that this was one person’s opinion, that person happens to be the president of the United States,’ Velez-Mitchell tells Gay Star News. ‘This is the first time in history that a United States president endorsed gay marriage and so it is really crossing a threshold. From a cultural perspective it was extremely important.’
While as a lesbian, she was thrilled, as a journalist, she was intrigued watching the story unfold with Obama’s endorsement coming just days after Vice President shocked the world, and apparently The White House, with his own public support of marriage equality.
‘I thought it was fascinating how it all went down, how Biden seemed to get that going and my hat’s off to him,’ Velez-Mitchell recalls. ‘I just thought the whole thing was extraordinary. It was watching out culture change.’
She is aware that there are those who were extremely frustrated with the president for not supporting marriage equality sooner and for waiting for a time when it seemed less politically risky that it might have been before.
‘Politicians are motivated to a certain degree by politics. They are politicians,’ she says. ‘Sometimes things are multi-determined. Maybe it was his conscience, maybe it was (First Lady) Michelle Obama, maybe it was politics, maybe it was his evolving stance, maybe it was a combination of all of it. I just think that it’s good that it happened!’
It’s breakthroughs such as Obama’s public support that encourage Velez-Mitchell who acknowledges that sometimes progress can seem rather slow.
‘Sometimes we can get a little despondent because we’re living life in real time,’ she says. ‘We don’t realize that what happens in a hundred years is a blink of an eye in the span of geologic time. So when we get to see those changes before our eyes, it really is energizing. So that was a watershed moment.’
As for her own coming out, Velez-Mitchell says she has not had a single regret since going public.
‘We are part of the culture, we are part of the fabric of America and we should celebrate that,’ she says. ‘People think your sexual orientation is about sex. Even if it is a little bit about that, it’s also about identity. I really feel proud to be comfortable in my own skin and to hopefully create and be part of chain reaction. I was inspired by other people and I might inspire someone else.’