Using My Voice To Touch Lives Other Than Talking About Weather

My job as a television meteorologist, while more public than some jobs, does not make it any more important than some of the other jobs that I’ve had in my life or your job:  clerk, waiter, or bartender.  When people use the “celebrity” word when talking to me, I quickly say that I don’t believe in that mindset.  My job just happens to be in the public eye.

While I am usually pretty vocal in my thoughts and beliefs on my Facebook page and in my blog, I still have to be careful of what I say.  While none of my views would ever make it into my weathercast or affecting my forecasting ability, people can refuse to watch me because of them.

I love being a weather forecaster.  I love the television performance part of my science and I wouldn’t want to be a private forecaster.  However, I don’t do it for the glory.   But, with that being said, I would be lying if I said, I don’t care what people say.  If people didn’t have something to say about you or your performance, then the bottom line is that they probably aren’t watching you.

I always reply to emails when I get them at the station (and I try to do that on Facebook and my blog).  Like any other subject, there’s always two sides.  Before I really get into the topic of my blog today, here are some of the emails or public forum comments that have been said to and about me in the past:

* Letter to the station in Lubbock, Texas, (1997):  “there are plenty of people who are angry at your substandard investigative reporting”

* Email from retired USMC Major Eric K. (August 2006):  “I was very disappointed in your forecast….I do know that if a Marine Corps weather specialist would miss a forecast by so much they would find themselves forecasting weather in Alaska.  So, keep working on it.  You will get better.”

* QC Media Review Message Board (March 2007):  “Anthony is fine but lacks spark.”

* Email from Kevin M. (December 2007): “I think Anthony is by far the coolest weather man, and I hope I can meet him one day.  I wish I had his hair.”

* WQAD Message Board (2008):  “Anthony is fun to watch, definitely better looking and doesn’t fake smile like…”

And, just a couple of years ago, readers of “The River Cities Reader” voted me the #3 best local weather forecaster.

With that being said, this blog isn’t a fishing expedition for compliments.  Those statements are there to show how different people are and that when someone says something, good or bad, about my performance, my views, or about me, I appreciate the comments and that your views are important to me.

Again, I love being a meteorologist and I would love for everyone to watch me and love me.  But, I know that would be living in a fantasy world.

Outside of television, I also have a voice.   I have other interests and I am very passionate about other topics:  equality, specifically marriage equality, all rights and more specifically gay rights and human rights, fundraising for those need a voice, people with HIV or AIDS, to be precise.

Like those letters, emails, and comments that I’ve saved in my television career, I’ve gotten emails about my advocacy work.  Without giving away who these are from, I’ll delete a few specific references and share a couple with you.  I am very touched that people care about what I have to say and look to me for guidance.  This is why I do what I do and why I stand up for what I believe in.  As I always say, we don’t have to agree, we just have to voice our views with respect.  Without respect, there will never be a resolution or common ground.

* Facebook private message, September 2011:

“Hi Anthony. I know we have never met but I am in a position and I am not sure what to do! I have an amazing son named xxx (every mother’s statement). I have learned that he has been portraying himself as a female on the internet and having very explicit conversations with guys about sex. Of course, I learned the guy he was talking to is from xxx, Texas and is 33. Took care of that!  Now, I am sure you are wondering what kind of nutcase I am but I do not know what to do. We have xxx in counseling for his xxx and I can talk to him about that but I am trying to figure out how to reiterate to xxx how much I love him and it is ok if he likes boys……Counselors only talk books and what you should do but I need guidance from someone that may know what xxx is feeling. I am sorry if this is making you uncomfortable but I don’t know what to so and do not want my son to suffer emotionally. He is a huge Lady Gaga fan and always like to listen to Born This Way. I have told him many times, every person is different and that’s what makes the world go round. Any advise would be much appreciated, even if it is reading material or websites. You are a GEM! Thank you! A mom in need of help!”

It took me a couple of days to respond to this message.  I am not a clinical psychologist and I know my Dr. Wahl’s Intro to Psychology class at Murray State back in the 1980s doesn’t make me qualified.  However, living real life did teach me enough to respond.  After a few more correspondences with the woman, who I now call a dear friend since we’ve met in person several times, to get more information, here was my response:

“I thought about this last night and I woke up thinking about it. I appreciate that you put your trust in me to provide some insight. Yes, I agree that counselors talk book and not real people talk. With that being said, take what I say with a grain of salt. I’ve had one psychology and one human sexuality course in college, so from an educational standpoint, I’m not qualified. From real life, more so.

While there is other information that would be useful, such as (1) what is the relationship between xxx and his stepdad, (2) did your ex act this way toward xxx before the xxx chat incident, (3) does xxx get bullied at school, etc., I’ll move forward.

The biggest thing that you have going for you is your love and concern for xxx. That has to be upfront and never taken for granted. You are his rock even though he may be distant or sad. No matter what others think or do, he needs to know without a doubt that Mom is there for him. Additionally, you’re doing the right thing by reaching out to educate yourself.

My father was an alcoholic and he was very abusive not only to me, but my mother and my sister. He didn’t discriminate in his hate. In school, I only had two kids that picked on me. One picked on everyone, so I guess one that had a target for me. It was never physical, just verbal.

With xxx’s love for Lady Gaga, he knows about being different and being an outcast to people. I think that’s a good thing. He knows he’s not alone now. You should continue talking with him about things, not just this, but show that you’re on his side. He will have to be the one to accept that and share.

I’m sure in this day and age (it was much different in 1978 for me), xxx already knows if he’s gay, bi, or straight. I don’t know what your views on sex are, but it sounds like he already is well versed in what he wants to do or has read about. While you might say, “you don’t have to rush into sex with boys or girls”, we both know that is not a reality. We were young once. However, if he chooses to have sex: protection, protection, protection. This is tough because it involves a teenager. You don’t want to push him into it, but you can’t be blind to what you are already know is going on in his thought process. Legal reasons aside, he should be pursuing that (when he does) with someone around his age and not an adult. That is a result of the wonderful multimedia world we live in.

About your ex husband not wanting him around the younger girl, that is absurd if you really think that xxx is gay. Your ex needs to educate himself to know that most people that molest children are straight. Gay men or boys usually don’t fondle or molest little girls. That’s not 100%, but there’s clinical evidence to prove that it’s usually straight men that molest children of the opposite sex.

Finally, you don’t think that xxx would think of taking his own life, do you? While I wouldn’t want to think of that and I know you wouldn’t, please make sure he knows that isn’t an option. I hope he isn’t that sad.

Talking and affirmation is the way to go on this one. I know I’ve rambled on, but I wanted to touch on as much as possible.

For a gay boy, it does get better. There will be idiots in every walk of life. Some say nothing and some do.

xxx, I wish you the very best and please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Remember, this is my heart and brain talking without an educational background in human psychology or human sexuality.”

We continued to correspond and I’ve met this woman and her family at public events and they are a wonderful family.  That story and talking with her made me realize there are many people out there that are scared and need a voice and who knows, I may be that voice.

And, I want to share one more correspondence from a straight man and father of two little boys.  This came to me in early May after the Amendment 1 vote in North Carolina when voters there basically did away with any rights for gay people and their relationships.

“Hey Anthony:

I read your status yesterday and I wanted to say more but I didn’t want to create at long debate on your page. I am disappointed in the results of the vote in NC yesterday. I could not imagine how you feel when things like this are brought into the spot light. I know we have never met in person but I think you are a very strong person and a great advocate. You seem to live your life completely opposite of the way people try to portray gay people in the media. I honestly don’t know why it is even an issue to debate, every time I find myself in such a debate I always ask- “ How does the way another person live their life affect me” and I have never got an intelligent response. As a father I look at my sons and think about the future. All I want for them is to be happy and healthy no matter what they decide to do in life. I often wish people that say they are against gay marriage would actually stop and think, What if that was my son, daughter, brother, or sister.
I am sure things have not been easy on you. I grew up in xxx, what used to be a small narrow minded community. It is amazing how things have changed here and thanks to people like you there is a lot less “hateful” people around. It was kind of funny- I am a xxx in xxx and at our last meeting gay marriage was brought up after the meeting. I took my typical “ I don’t care what people do because it does not concern me” Anyway, I had a room full of 70-80 year old men laughing, I broke the ice the by saying- You know maybe gay men do have it right, ever notice that they all look young and is shape? I said it’s because they don’t have women to deal with. Sorry for the long email- basically just wanted to say keep your chin up and not everyone things like NC. Thanks for being a friend.”

I’ve written a long blog, I know, and I have to jump on the treadmill and get ready for work.  The point of all of this is that I love my job as a television meteorologist, but I also know I have to use my voice to advocate for the better of all people and not the majority.

And, when you say something to me, good or bad, I remember and make note of it. 🙂

Anthony

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wanda Otts McCraw on June 5, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Awww Anthony I’m glad someone has the voice and God gave it to you. I appreciate all they U say and share. I never really thought about gay, straight or bisexual growing up. I came from a small town in the south like U, they didn’t talk about things like that or discuss any issues of importance. My Dad taught us alot but he still had discrimination in him especially with black people. I’m not sure if thats because of being raised in the south and his up bringing but he had a voice too and if ya didn’t like what he said he said so be it U don’t have to listen but mark my words.. they will come true adventually. Today they are getting somewhat better than they used to be….Keep up the good work on weather and keep sharing your voice and blogs with us. Thank U so much for opening up and being such a Wonderful friend!

    Reply

  2. Wanda,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    It may be the southern thing, but not all southerners are that way. I say that because my father was racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. Come to think of it, he didn’t like anyone, including himself.

    People are evolving and it will take until the end of time. However, we’ll always have haters.

    Peeps

    Reply

  3. Anthony, what a great thought provoking post! When I was growing up in the huge southern California population, I’m sure there were plenty of gay, bi and tran but it certainly was never talked about nor did I even know anything about other lifestyles until I was nearly an adult from what I remember, being and oldie but goodie like I am lol. Carl and I tried to raise our sons to accept everyone, color, orientation, whatever..they grew up in a very multicultural neighborhood and schools..I like to say they are ‘color blind’..we have always had friends of all kinds..but I know that many others are racist and closed minded and I feel so sorry for THEM. They are the ones missing out on some wonderful friendships and memories as far as I am concerned.
    I also appreciate that you do read your emails and letters, and give so much thought to your answers..I know that we are glad to call you our friend:)

    Barb

    Reply

  4. Barbara,

    I’m very happy to call you my friend. Your kids are very blessed to be raised with such values!

    Take care and thank you for reading and commenting.

    Anthony

    Reply

  5. Posted by Norma Jeane Smith on June 5, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Anthony, what a great post! I just want to add to a comment that some may stop viewing you because of a difference in how they feel…I would like to tell you that because of your values, I watch you, as do so many others…it is the reason I DO stay tuned. =)

    Reply

  6. Posted by Norma Jeane Smith on June 5, 2012 at 10:05 am

    To anyone that is ignorant enough to pass judgment on Anthony or anyone else…Just wanted to note the use of my word “values” and not “choices” in my post above. Being a meteorologist is a “choice”, whereas sexuality is not. Anthony, I admire you so much in your family values, human values, animal values, educational values.

    Reply

  7. Norma Jeane,

    Thank you for your responses. I appreciate your open-mindedness and support. It’s people like you that make everyone’s life better.

    Take care and have a great week.

    Your friend,
    Anthony

    Reply

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