Reporter Bobby Calvan marked National Coming Out Day by telling the nuanced and sometimes excruciating story of his long journey to sharing his secret — and how he tried to come out to his deceased parents in an unusual way, with mixed results.
New York-based Calvan was having coffee with Paul Haven, AP’s vice president for newsgathering, earlier this summer when Calvan mentioned he’s long wanted to write about his experience of coming out at age 57. Haven referred him to Ted Anthony, director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation, who has long experience with first-person and memoir work and is also interim Global Enterprise editor.
Calvan worked with Anthony for more than two months to shape the story and have it unfold the way he envisioned. In the process, he surfaced his own memories, reporting on them and framing a story that was equal parts personal and professional, deftly balancing — as not all first-person stories do — the demands of journalism with the self-disclosure of memoir.
His intimate story, leading with his halting attempts to come out at the grave of his father, resonated with a digital audience that is attuned to experiential stories. It also served as an example of inclusive storytelling, centering a voice that might not otherwise be heard this way in the AP report.
The story ran on the front page of AP News for much of the morning on Monday, Oct. 10, the eve of National Coming Out Day.