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20-Year Fox News veteran details coming out as gay while working at 'craziest conservative network

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Shepard Smith, a Fox News anchor since 1996, revealed last week that he had no intention of opening up about his sexuality the way he did during an April speech at his alma mater.

Speaking at a conference, Smith was tapped to talk on a panel titled "It Starts With MEek," one that was meant to promote inclusivity and diversity. According to a report made by the Clarion-Ledger, Smith changed his speech at the last minute to reflect the crux of the conversation and decided to tell his own story of inclusivity and diversity.

“It wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth,” Smith told the crowd gathered to hear the panel. “I grew up in Holly Springs (Miss.). I went to the First Methodist Church. I went to Ole Miss. I was also trying to avoid what having a normal social life is. I didn’t need to go home and find my girlfriend or boyfriend.”

He revealed that he dropped out of college in 1987, just two credits short of graduating, and began working on television in Florida. Smith said that at that time, coming out wasn't something he'd even considered. Married to Virginia Donald from 1987-1993, Smith didn't really have the option.

"A. You’re going to hell for it," Smith said about his internal battle over coming out as homosexual. "B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way, you’re on television on the craziest conservative network on Earth. That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt."

He continued, "I don’t think about it. It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with."

Smith also took the time to stamp out old rumors that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes forbid him from coming out.

The Fox News reporter came out in October 2016 and noted that he never had a poor experience with Ailes.

"It’s such a wonderful place," he told the Huffington Post in an interview about the Fox organization, "and it’s been home forever. [Ailes] was very fatherly and mentorish."

About the reports that Ailes forced him to closet his sexuality, Smith denied it ever happened, but revealed that purported homophobic remarks made by Ailes in the past — but never around Smith — did hurt him.

"He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” Smith admitted. “I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”

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