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Topics In the News
Robin Roberts' Casual Coming Out
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/30/13
Last updated on: 12/30/13
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Robin Roberts.

On December 29, 2013, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts came out in an end-of-year Facebook message that casually included her longtime partner Amber Laign among those who helped her through a trying year during which she recovered from chemotherapy and a blood marrow transplant. In her first public acknowledgment of her ten-year relationship with Laign, Roberts expressed gratitude to all who supported her in her battle against MDS, the blood disorder that threatened her life.

The Facebook message looks like this:

"At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude.

I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health.

I am grateful for my sister, Sally-Ann, for being my donor and giving me the gift of life.

I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.

I am grateful for the many prayers and well wishes for my recovery. I return every one of them to you 100 fold.

On this last Sunday of 2013 I encourage you to reflect on what you are grateful for too.

Wishing you a Healthy and Happy New Year.

Peace, love, and blessings to all..XO."

Roberts' burying what she certainly knew would make big news across the country in the middle of the message is typical of the recent practice of closeted celebrities choosing to come out in a very low-key manner in which the information is presented matter-of-factly. Rather than calling attention to itself, the fact that Roberts has a longtime girlfriend is presented simply and straightforwardly as one of many relationships that she enjoys.

Roberts did not give her partner's last name, but People magazine and other media outlets have identified her as Amber Laign, a licensed massage therapist from the San Francisco Bay area who has a private practice specializing in patients recovering from injuries. She and Roberts have been together for 10 years after meeting through mutual friends.

Roberts' sexual orientation has reportedly been known to friends and family and associates for years. Although her revelation is not surprising to many viewers who have simply assumed that she was gay, it is nevertheless significant because Roberts is among the most beloved public figures in America.

Long admired for her intelligence and grace and good humor, she attracted the respect and deep affection of millions as a result of the courage she exhibited during her recent illness.

A native of Pass Christian, Mississippi, one of four children of a Tuskegee airman and his wife, Roberts grew up in a close-knit and high-achieving family. She was an outstanding basketball player at Southeastern Louisiana University, where she received a degree in communications. After college, she pursued a career as a sports reporter and anchor at local television stations in Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Nashville, and Atlanta.

In 1990, Roberts joined ESPN as a sportscaster and host of Sportscenter, where she earned a reputation for her wide-ranging knowledge of sports trivia and news. While still at ESPN, she made frequent appearances as a reporter on ABC News and on Good Morning America.

In 2005, Roberts became co-anchor with George Stephanopoulos of Good Morning America. With them at the helm, GMA soon became the number one ranked morning news show in the country.

On May 9, 2012, when President Obama decided it was time to announce that he had evolved on the issue of marriage equality, he summoned Roberts to the White House for a hastily arranged interview in which he declared, "It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

In 2012, Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the bone marrow. In October 2012, she took a leave from Good Morning America. Her sister, Sally-Ann Roberts, a beloved television anchor in New Orleans, donated the marrow for a transplant. In February 20, 2013, Roberts returned to Good Morning America.

The episode in which she was welcomed back to GMA received a 2012 Peabody Award. The Peabody citation credited her with "allowing her network to document and build a public service campaign around her battle with a rare disease" and "inspir[ing] hundreds of potential bone marrow donors to register and heighten[ing] awareness of the need for even more donors."

In 2012, Roberts was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame. At the 2013 ESPYs, ESPN awarded her its Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

In the video below Roberts accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

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