Minneapolis anchor comes out of the 'glass closet' after 13 years in TV news

Jason Hackett
Jason Hackett

A Minnesota news anchor made a splash earlier this month, coming out live on air after 13 years as a journalist.

"For people that really know me — my friends, my coworkers, some members of my family — this isn't some huge surprise," Jason Hackett told viewers of Sunrise, KARE 11's early morning news program. "I've been living in a glass closet for the most part, but now I wanted to let you out there, the viewers out there that wake up with me every morning to know a little bit more about me."

The anchor joined the KARE 11 news team in Minneapolis early last year after spending four years as a morning anchor in Oklahoma City. Although he had come out to colleagues at his earlier jobs, he decided it was finally time for the members of his community to be privy to that part of his life.

Hackett's announcement came after he was asked to be on the cover of Lavender, a local LGBTQ+ magazine.

"[In] sixth grade is when I realized, 'Wait a minute, I think I’m different.' There was a kid at a bus stop every day after school when I was waiting and I always used to stare at him and be like, 'Wow, there’s something about him that I really like. I don’t know what it is, but I really, really like something about him,'" he told the magazine. "And I think it dawned on me somewhere around fifth or sixth grade that, 'Wait a minute, I think I’m gay.'"

Growing up in a religious family where being gay was absolutely not an option, it wasn't until college that Hackett was able to come out and start to live authentically. And now, he says it's important to him to set an example for other young queer Black boys who may not be seeing themselves or the life they want represented in media.

"It’d be nice to think that after this story is published and after my story is told that there is another young, gay, black, or anybody of color kid out there that is like, 'Wow, he is being his authentic self and he’s not getting killed for it, he’s not getting criticized for it. He’s being his authentic self, and maybe I can also be my authentic self, maybe I can also live my truth, just like Jason is,'" he said.

While not everyone may understand why a news anchor would want to come out on their program the way Hackett did, Ohio anchor Taylor Bruck's casual coming out last December provided one obvious but often overlooked reason.

It's common for anchors to make small talk about their weekends or holiday plans to fill in extra time or build just enough of a connection with the audience to get them tuning back in day after day. For those who are heterosexual, mentioning a husband or a girlfriend in those moments wouldn't cause anyone to blink. But for queer people like Bruck or Hackett, who are out to those around them but not on air, every such conversation becomes a choice between coming out or closing that closet door.

But for Hackett, it was clearly time to swing it wide open.

"What me and...everyone here on Sunrise strive for is authenticity. And I can't preach that without being my authentic self," he said. "And for anyone that is watching this now who is struggling to find acceptance or struggling with their family or their friends, take it from me, a gay, Black son of of immigrants, the road may not be easy. I won't lie to you and say that it is. But don't worry. Keep going. You're gonna make it."


KARE 11's Jason Hackett shares his coming out story