ABC star Patricia Karvelas reveals why she had to keep her sexuality a secret at the start of her career – and how Anthony Albanese was one of the first to know
An ABC veteran opens up about the challenges 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 so she wouldn’t miss out on workplace opportunities as a cadet reporter in Canberra in 2003.
When she first started at the Press Gallery, she prevented certain anti-LGBTQ+ politicians from finding out she was gay.
Ms Karvelas said she now looks back on her early days in media with a “great sense of sadness” because she could not be herself at work.
Since starting at the gallery, where she worked for the Australian, Ms Karvelas went on to work at Sky News before landing her current role at the public broadcaster.
ABC veteran Patricia Karvelas (pictured) talks about the challenges 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 colleagues and politicians didn’t find out she was gay
The award-winning journalist told it ABCQueer “Every day was a day of navigation” as she tried to keep her secret.
One of the few figures in Canberra who did know she was a lesbian was current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was known to be ‘quite pro-gay’.
“I was very cautious of my colleagues who I thought were unsupportive, (and) of politicians who I knew were hostile to gay rights, and there were many,” she said.
‘People would be surprised about that because I think I’m known to the public as someone who can stand up and not really be afraid of people.
“But that’s not what happens when you’re in a social setting where people find gay jokes funny.”
Despite now feeling that she was “complicit” at the time because she didn’t say anything, in retrospect, Ms. Karvelas said, “I wasn’t just paranoid. I was right.’
“It was very much something that I knew I was doing, a very active decision, because I made the decision that I was going to do what made me feel the safest and what didn’t hurt my career,” she added.
The Press Club was a “boys club” that already excluded her because she was a woman and she didn’t want to miss any more networking opportunities because she was also a lesbian.
During her early days, she said she often avoided using pronouns when talking about her then-girlfriend so she could avoid coming out.
Because of all this, Mrs. Karvelas feels that she has not been able to enjoy her childhood.
Ms Karvelas is now ‘very out of the closet’, but feels she did not enjoy her childhood
Eventually, Mrs. Karvelas became more comfortable bringing her wife to balls and other social functions during her more than decade-long tenure at the Press Gallery.
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 did admit that her new roles as host of RN Breakfast and Q&A for the ABC came with their own challenges.
Listeners of the national morning radio show who may have concerns about gays still make her think about their over-openness.
‘I don’t want people to feel like I’m not their broadcaster. But if I’m not my authentic self, I can’t do my job well,” she said.
“I think when you’re completely yourself, you do better.”