The 53-year-old was a featured speaker at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism as part of the “It Starts With MEek” conference April 21. In his speech, the Mississippi native said he didn’t start “living his truth” until roughly eight or nine years ago, suggesting he devoted himself to his work in an effort to avoid dealing with personal issues, The Clarion-Ledger reports.
“So I’m just traveling, traveling, traveling and popping up all over the world because we didn’t have enough people. And other people needed to get home... to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband. And I didn’t need to do that,” he said. “I needed to sort of escape what my own reality might have been, because I wasn’t answering my own questions, or even posing my own questions to myself about what it is that is different about me.”
He continued, “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. I just cut it off [and said], ‘Where do you want me? Next plane?’”
Smith, who attended Ole Miss but left before graduating, said he didn’t go to lengths to hide his sexuality, but nonetheless would avoid the question publicly for a number of reasons.
“A. You’re going to hell for it,” he said, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “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,” he joked. “That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt.”
Smith then pointed to an Oct. 2016 interview with HuffPost’s Ryan Grim in which he was asked about whether former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes had prevented him from coming out. “No. He was always good to me,” Smith said of Ailes, who resigned last year amidst allegations that he’d sexually harassed female colleagues. “And when I told the truth, I guess it was considered that I outed myself. I didn’t even think about it, because I didn’t think I was in.”
These days, Smith sees his sexuality as a non-issue.
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “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.”