Out in the Workplace: Howard Monroe, Anchor and Reporter for CBS News Philadelphia

Howard Monroe, a Black man, smiles in a traditional headshot. He wears a navy suit with white button-up and pocket square and a kelly green tie.
Howard Monroe.

Howard Monroe is an anchor and reporter for CBS News Philadelphia, where he covers local news stories on a variety of topics from entertainment to politics. His love for news began in middle school when he was the photographer for his school newspaper, The Edison Wildcat. Since then, the New Jersey native led a storied career, first in 2007 at WMBC-TV in northern New Jersey before working in anchor and reporter roles in numerous other cities, including Charlotte, NC and Indianapolis, Ind. Nowadays, he is a little closer to home at CBS Philadelphia, where he has been since 2019.

Monroe chatted with PGN about what it’s like to be openly LGBTQ+ both as a news reporter and in the public eye. Some responses have been edited for length and clarity. 

What is your story about coming out in the workplace?
Coming out in the workplace is hard. I’ve traveled around the country and when I was in Indiana, [I worked with someone named] Daniel Miller. He was out and watching him perform and be his authentic self, I [thought] “Maybe I should aspire to that.” And he gave me the confidence to not necessarily tell everyone that I’m gay, but just be who I am in the workplace. It was just inspiring to see him. It was inspiring to watch him. And now, that’s kind of where I am. If another gay person comes into my newsroom, I hope that they can see me and feel comfortable being their authentic selves, as well.

Do you have a specific coming out story?
It wasn’t necessarily specific. It was just kind of like…I would never go into another newsroom and not let people know that “Hey, yes, I’m a gay man, a Black gay man. And this is who I am.” There wasn’t a specific story about it. 

What have been your biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve dealt with while being out in the workplace?
So working in news is not just [about] being accepted by your workplace. It’s also having to be accepted by the general public. And sometimes that can be hard, because the Philadelphia market is Southeast Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and all of Delaware. And some of those neighborhoods can be really hard to be accepted if you’re not a straight person. That was probably the biggest obstacle — just making sure that when you walk into a space, you are going to be accepted by everyone who’s there, and also everyone who’s watching you on television. Overcoming it? I don’t know if I ever actually overcame it. It’s something that you just live with every day. There comes a point when you’re like, “This is me. You accept me or you don’t.”

You mentioned what it was like to be out as a public figure. How would you describe being an out person in your specific industry?
I think television, for so long, has been sort of — I don’t want to call it a gay industry, but there are a lot of gay people who are in the industry who have been forced to come out of the closet. So when you’re asked certain things, you kind of shun away. Someone will ask, “Hey Howard, do you have kids?” or, “Hey Howard, how’s your wife?” And you kind of shun away from it? And you don’t know how to answer that question because you don’t want to necessarily. You don’t want to out yourself, but you also need to let people know, “Hey, that’s not my reality. No, I don’t have kids. No, I don’t have a wife. In fact, I have a beautiful boyfriend.” So it’s very interesting being in that space. Also, what a lot of people don’t see in TV is the other side, which is all of the folks who are behind the scenes, who tend to be hyper masculine or hyper feminine, depending on their gender, and it turns into a very interesting conversation, but I’m happy that it appears as though it’s changing. There’s more acceptance. We’re covering different stories. We’re covering more stories that are more specific to different communities that we serve.

How have your colleagues supported you as an out person in the workplace?
They’ve been great. It’s an interesting thing, when you do come out in the workplace, and I hope other people have felt this as well. When you do come out, and someone knows that you are not like them, they just kind of accept you. They’re like, “OK, this is you, and I accept you for that.” I completely understand that my job is different than most and I have a different — dare I say — privilege than most. But it’s been great. After finally getting over that initial hump that I mentioned earlier, it’s been great. And I think newsrooms specifically are changing, because they realized that we have to change our way if we’re going to cover the general public, and also being in this world where a lot of men and women are gay or lesbian or what have you. I think it’s been great and our co-workers are great as well. As long as people know about who you are, they seem to follow and sometimes you have to be the pioneer in that.

Why is it important to be out in your place of work?
Representation matters. Every single day, when I go to work, I walk into these neighborhoods. It’s not just me being at work. I have to go into North Philly, South Philly, Southwest Philly and Northwest Philly. And if another young, Black gay boy sees me and is looking at me as being a role model, I hope that they know that it’s OK, because I never had that. I didn’t have that until I was almost 30 years old. Seeing another Black gay man, going back to Daniel Miller, who I could look up to — who knows? There could be someone just like me, who was down in New Castle County, Delaware, or Cumberland County, New Jersey, or Ocean County, New Jersey, who was looking at me as being their role model. And, for me, that is the important part — making sure that if someone looks at me, they can see themselves in me, and hopefully not have to go through 30 years of their life hiding themselves. And I never actually thought about that [until now]

What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ professionals in the workplace?
Come out and let yourself be seen. Let yourself be heard. Know that you’re already there. You’re in. You already have a seat at the table. And make sure that everyone at that table knows where you are coming from.

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