Robin Roberts worried that her historic Obama interview would out her as a lesbian

Robin Roberts on 'The Jamie Kern Lima Show.'
Robin Roberts on 'The Jamie Kern Lima Show.' Photo: Screenshot

Lesbian anchorwoman Robin Roberts admitted this week that, while considering whether to publicly come out, she feared people wouldn’t be able to reconcile her Christianity with her sexuality.

On Tuesday’s episode of author Jamie Kern Lima’s podcast, the Good Morning America (GMA) anchor admitted that her family and colleagues already knew that she was a lesbian before she came out publicly in 2013. However, she had reservations about disclosing her sexuality to the public.

Those reservations even made her hesitant to sit down with Barack Obama in 2012 for an interview in which the then-President came out in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

“I had not been public about [my then-girlfriend Amber Laign],” Roberts explained. “I had not been public about her and my sexuality. And so, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m gonna sit down with the president of the United States and talk about changing his stance on marriage equality. Will that out me?’”

“The nerve for me to be selfish in thinking, ‘How is this gonna impact me?’ When the commander-in-chief was going to say to the world that people like me are worthy — are worthy of being married,” she continued.

Even after the headline-making interview, Roberts said she still worried that people would wonder about her sexuality. “I wasn’t ready for the entire world to know about Amber and about my life,” she said.

Roberts also spoke about her concerns that coming out would impact those she worked with.

“It’s not the ‘Robin Roberts Show,’ it’s Good Morning America,” Roberts told Lima. “And there are so many people whose livelihoods depend on the success of our show. And so, if I do something that hurts the show, that hurts them? Yes, I thought about that.”

“Everybody I worked with knew,” Roberts continued. “I would walk down the street with Amber, and if somebody saw us, I would introduce her. I wasn’t trying to hide. But yet, I wasn’t ready to, to fully…And part of it is, and I’ve never said this before, part of it is because of my Christianity.”

Roberts admitted that this was the “underlying reason why” she hesitated to come out publicly. “I was afraid that people — they think you can’t be gay and a Christian. And I am,” she said. “And I was so fearful that I would be shunned.”

Roberts, who is Presbyterian, did eventually come out in a December 2013 Facebook post referring to Laign as her girlfriend. The GMA host said she subsequently received a message that put all her fears about being shunned to rest.

“I received a letter — a beautiful letter — from the National Office at the Presbyterian Church after I announced about Amber, fully supportive, fully supportive, and then I think about all those years I wasted, worried, needless worry.”

Roberts added that she believes she came out publicly at the right moment for her.

“This was the time in my life that was right,” she explained. “It felt good. And I can’t even imagine now people not knowing everything about me. And you know what’s so freeing about it also? It’s like, ‘Bring it on. You know everything about me. And I have nothing to hide.’ And to still be embraced … I am blessed and highly favored. And I’m so grateful.”

After dating for close to two decades, Roberts and Laign announced their engagement in January 2023. The couple married last September.

In the years since coming out, Roberts has continued to host GMA, earning a 2014 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Association of Broadcasters’ 2018 Distinguished Service Award, and appearing on Out Magazine’s Out100 in 2023.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated