An ABC veteran has spoken out about the difficulties she faced early in her career as a lesbian journalist in the nation’s capital.
Patricia Karvelas, 42, had to keep her sexuality a secret to avoid missing out on professional opportunities as a trainee reporter in Canberra in 2003.
When she started In the press gallery, she made sure that certain anti-LGBTQ+ politicians didn’t find out she was gay.
Ms Karvelas said she now looks back on her beginnings in the media with “great sadness” because she couldn’t be herself at work.
After starting at the gallery, where she worked for The Australian, Ms Karvelas moved to Sky News before landing her current position at the public broadcaster.
ABC veteran Patricia Karvelas (pictured) has spoken about the difficulties she faced early in her career as a lesbian journalist in the nation’s capital
The award-winning journalist, 42, had to avoid using pronouns when talking about her partner (seen together) so that colleagues and politicians didn’t find out she was gay
The award-winning journalist told ABCQueer “Every day was a day of sailing,” as she tried to keep her secret.
However, one of the few figures in Canberra who knew she was a lesbian was now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was considered “quite gay-friendly”.
“I was very wary of my colleagues, who I found to be unsupportive. [and] “There were many politicians that I knew were hostile to gay rights,” she said.
“That would surprise people because I think I’m known in the public eye as someone who stands up and isn’t really afraid of people.”
“But that doesn’t happen when you’re in a social environment where people think gay jokes are funny.”
Although she now feels she was “complicit” for not speaking out at the time, Ms Karvelas said in hindsight: “I wasn’t just paranoid. I was right.”
“It was very, very something that I knew I was doing, a very active decision because I made the decision to do what makes me feel the most confident and that doesn’t hurt my career,” added them added.
The Press Club was a “boys’ club” that excluded her because she was already a woman, and she didn’t want to miss out on further networking opportunities because she was also a lesbian.
She said that in her early days she often refrained from using pronouns when talking about her then-girlfriend to avoid coming out.
Because of all this, Ms. Karvelas feels that she was not able to enjoy her youth.
Ms Karvelas is now “very out” but feels she wasn’t able to enjoy her youth
The radio presenter can be seen here at the beginning of her broadcasting career
During her more than a decade at the Press Gallery, Ms. Karvelas eventually became more comfortable taking her wife to balls and other social events.
She is now “very out” and has heard that young LGBTQ+ journalists working in Canberra are more accepted than they were 20 years ago.
However, she admitted her new roles as host of RN Breakfast and Q&A for ABC brought their own challenges.
Listeners to the national morning radio show who may have reservations about gays still cause her to ponder whether she should be too open.
“I don’t want people to feel like I’m not their channel. But if I’m not my authentic self, I can’t do my job well,” she said.
“I think when you’re your whole self, you do a better job.”