Shepard Smith gets more vocal about being gay amid FOX News tumult


Shepard Smith, chief breaking news anchor at Fox News Network, is speaking out about being a gay man.

The increased openness about his personal life comes during a period of unprecedented upheaval at the news network, following the forced departures of Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly and the subsequent resignation of co-president Bill Shine amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations.

On the topic of his sexuality, the 53-year-old Smith recently told students at University of Mississippi, his alma mater, "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."

The event was a conference on diversity at the Meek School of Journalism, where Smith spoke about growing up in Holly Springs, Miss., attending the First Methodist Church and trying "to avoid what having a normal social life is."

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See photos of Shepard Smith:

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Shepard Smith through the years
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Shepard Smith through the years
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 248 -- Pictured: (l-r) Fox New�s Shepard Smith during an interview with host Seth Meyers on August 17, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Shepard Smith during Friday's 12/16/16 show in New York.

(Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 248

Pictured: (l-r) Fox News Shepard Smith during an interview with host Seth Meyers on August 17, 2015

(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends the 19th Annual National Lesbian And Gay Journalists Association New York Benefit at The Prince George Ballroom on March 20, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends the 19th Annual National Lesbian And Gay Journalists Association New York Benefit at The Prince George Ballroom on March 20, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends salute to Brit Hume at Cafe Milano on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Fox News anchor, Shepard Smith on the set of 'Studio B with Shepard Smith' during a rehersal at Fox News studios in New York. Fox News Channel celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air on October 7th.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

THE VIEW

Shepard Smith was a guest on 'THE VIEW,' THURSDAY, NOV. 5, 2009 

(Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC via Getty Images) SHEPARD SMITH

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith on the set of 'Studio B with Shepard Smith' at Fox News studios in New York. Fox News Channel celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air on October 7th.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

FOX News Correspondent Shepard Smith attends the Fox News Channel 10th Anniversary celebration on October 4, 2006 in New York City.

(Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Harvey Weinstein, John Antioco, Chairman/CEO of Blockbuster Video, Joshua Jackson, Emilio Estevez, Sharon Stone, Christian Slater, Mathew Smith, General Merchandise Manager of Blockbuster video, Nick Shepard, President of Blockbuster Video, Freddy Rodriguez, Bob Weinstein, Trevor Drinkwater, Steve Bannon and Larry Madden, CFO of The Weinstein Company. 

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for The Weinstein Company)

Chairman & CEO, FOX News Roger Ailes (R) and (via satellite from Kiryat Shmona, Israel) anchor Shepard Smith from 'Fox News' speak during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour for the FOX Broadcasting Company at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on July 24, 2006 in Pasadena, California.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith and Rick Leventhal, news anchors for FOXNews.

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Jane Skinner and Shepard Smith during Fox at NCTA - FX, Fuel TV and Fox Reality - April 10, 2006 in Atlanta, GA, United States.

(Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage for Fox Television Network)

The Pulse correspondents, Bill O'Reilly and Laurie Dhue with 'The Pulse' host, Shepard Smith at the FOX 2002 Summer TCA Tour, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, January 22, 2002.

(photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect).

Shepard Smith during 2002 Fox Summer TCA Party at Sky Bar at The Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)

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"It wasn't until seven or eight or nine years ago, I started living my truth," Smith said. Before then, every time he considered confronting his same-sex attraction, he would go through the same mental checklist.

"A. You're going to hell for it. 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."

Instead, Smith repressed his feelings, and even married a woman — Virginia Donald — in 1987. They divorced six years later.

While his sexuality was long the subject of speculation by gossip sites like Gawker — and he found his name appearing with increasing regularity on gay power lists like the Out Magazine 100 — Smith only first came out in the media in October 2016.

It was in an interview in support of Ailes as the former CEO faced a bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit from former Fox News on-air personality Gretchen Carlson.

"I loved him like a father," Smith said of his boss.

Asked by the reporter if Ailes had ever made "homophobic remarks" around him, Smith replied, "No, never. He treated me with respect. Just respect."

RELATED: See photos of Bill O'Reilly:

25 PHOTOS
Bill O'Reilly through the years
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Bill O'Reilly through the years
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Talk Show Host Bill O'Reilly is seen on October 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0263 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly and host Jimmy Fallon on May 14, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Author Bill O'Reilly attends the 'Killing Jesus' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: (L-R) The cast of Nat Geo's 'Killing Jesus' Haaz Sleiman, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Leonidas, Alexis Rodney, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Joe Doyle, Chris Ryman and Kelsey Grammer pose with 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly (C) at the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for National Geographic Channel)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly attends the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0142-- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly during an interview with host Seth Meyers on December 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Bill O'Reilly (R) interviews Katie Couric during her visit to 'The O'Reilly Factor' at FOX Studios on May 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Rob Lowe talks to host Bill O'Reilly at Fox News' 'The O'Reilly Factor' at Fox News Studios on April 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Bill O'Reilly attends the National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Kennedy' World Premiere at The Newseum on October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: TV personality Bill O'Reilly enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on October 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Television host Bill O'Reilly is seen exiting'Good Morning America' studios on May 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Bill O'Reilly, host of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, waits for the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama during an event about Obama's 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative in the East Room at the White House February 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. As part of his 'Year of Action,' Obama announced a $200 million commitment from nine foundations to bolster the education and employment of young men and boys of color. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0170 -- Pictured: Author Bill O'Reilly on November 25, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: TV Personality Bill O'Reilly attends An Evening with Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera at 92nd Street Y on June 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly attend the game between the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on November 30, 2014 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: (L-R) TV Personalites Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly attend An Evening with Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera at 92nd Street Y on June 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Bill O'Reilly attends the 11th annual Giants of Broadcasting Honors at Gotham Hall on October 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
THE VIEW - (10.1.13) Today's guest co-host is Jason Biggs ('Orange is the New Black.') Guests include Bill OReilly (author, Killing Jesus); Matt Long and Lorraine Bruce (ABC's 'Lucky 7') on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) BARBARA WALTERS, BILL O'REILLY
Regis Philbin talks with Bill O'Reilly, of the O'Reilly Report, during the Court TV celebration of it's 10th anniversary at American Park inside Battery Park in New York City on July 18, 2001. photo by Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect
Bill O'Reilly attends the benefit for Homeless Children on November 16, 1989 at Letizia Restaurant in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4420 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 1, 2013 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Bill O'Reilly appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
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