Out on the front line – Media

Out on the front line – Media – Brief Article

Matthew Hays

Openly gay ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman was among the first to report from the war in Afghanistan

Although gay and lesbian military personnel fighting in the war against terrorism can’t be out on the job, one of the first journalists to report on the bombing in Afghanistan has been openly gay for more than 20 years.

ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman had only six hours’ notice on October 5 before he had to leave his Miami base for the Arabian Sea, where he was stationed off the coast of Paldstan on the USS Carl Vinson for seven days. While on board, the 42-year-old filed reports for three of ABC’s flagship news programs: Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline.

The assignment was the kind “I dreamed of when I started out,” Kofman said, but it also required him to go four nights without sleep. “It was a very nice vote of confidence for them to send me, but it was also an onerous responsibility. This was the most physically taxing assignment I’ve ever had.” Now back in Miami, Kofman said he must be prepared to go overseas again at any time.

Kofman, cofounder of the Canadian affiliate of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, got his start in TV news in Toronto. He moved to the United States in 1997 to work at CBS and then jumped to ABC in January. “I am aware that part of my responsibility in this job is to be a role model,” he said. “It’s important to me because when I was a young reporter there were no role models. I didn’t know that it would be possible for me to be openly gay and do what I’m doing.”

Of course, everyone on the Carl Vinson had concerns other than Kofman’s sexual orientation. But he said his being out was crucial nevertheless. Because he had no direct communication off the vessel, Kofman had to rely on his producer, who was in Bahrain, to call his boyfriend–film and theater designer Michael Levine–every couple of days to let him know Kofman was OK.

“By being open, I can ask my producer to do things like that,” Kofman said. “I think it’s really unfortunate that more people don’t take that next step. I think newsrooms are stronger when they acknowledge diversity.”

COPYRIGHT 2001 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group