David BernardPhoto: YouTube screenshot
David Bernard — the chief meteorologist for news station WVUE-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana — received an email on July 16 from a man calling himself Stephen LaFrance. It read, in part, “Good job predicting the weather fa**t.” The homophobic slur was misspelled.
Instead of simply deleting the email or ignoring it, Bernard posted it on his Facebook wall and wrote: “Yesterday I received a disturbing email from someone upset about the forecast. After 30 years, I can bear and accept criticism when I’m wrong. What I will not accept are personal attacks on me.
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest LGBTQ news
Bernard said the email came from a company business address that the meteorologist decided not to share publicly. “And by the way,” he added in his Facebook post, “the word fa**** ta two G’s.”
Her Facebook post received more than 2,500 comments, mostly supportive. Many were from people who said they were local viewers. Others came from other TV weather forecasters and broadcasters.
WAFB-TV reporter Liz Koh wrote, “David, I’m sorry to hear that people like this take time to be hateful and ugly. Thank you for sharing your story so boldly and for sharing resources for others.
Scot Pilié, a gay weatherman for The Weather Channel, wrote: “The amount of love always outweighs the hate, but that doesn’t mean hateful comments still don’t sting,” according to The Herald of the Sun.
Bernard does not hesitate to share his life online. He often shares pictures of his dog Dolly and her husband Charlie. He also shares updates on weather conditions as well as beautiful landscape photos and images of local events.
“Being a gay man in public has had its challenges,” he wrote in a comment on his post, “especially 30 years ago when I got on TV, but because of the support from so many family members, friends and people like you, it just got a whole lot easier. But the reality is that it is NOT easy for many people even today who feel marginalized.
“Comments like the one in the email are like a death by a thousand cuts for those who don’t have that support network in place,” he added. He then said he donated to the Trevor Project and encouraged his followers to donate to any organization “that helps those who have less or feel less”.
A study published in 2019 found that 57% of LGBTQ adults had experienced anti-queer slurs in different social settings. The Trevor Project, which focuses on preventing suicide among young gay men, said such harassment can cause mental distress or cause people to attempt suicide.
However, The Trevor Project also said that supportive communities can help improve the mental health of LGBTQ people. Bernard’s message shows that such support can be revealed even in the face of hatred.