Pride in the Media is an ongoing series on local LGBTQ media personalities and ally representatives of queer-affirming local media outlets.
The OutSmart team is very pleased to include Blake Mathews, the weekend meteorologist for KHOU 11 News in Houston, in their celebration of Pride in the Media. Mathews has chosen this moment to introduce himself to the public as the happy and personable gay man that he is.
Blake Matthews grew up near The Woodlands and knew from a young age that he wanted to be a meteorologist. He was always fascinated by weather, and the Texas Gulf Coast never failed to fuel that boyhood interest.
“It’s easier to understand the crazy weather events thrown at you as a Houston meteorologist when you’ve grown up in the Houston area. I was here for just about every modern weather incident. From the 1989 arctic outbreak to the 1994 floods, the ’97 ice storm, Tropical Storm Allison, the 2004 Christmas snowstorm, the miserable 2011 drought, and Hurricanes Rita and Ike—I’m exhausted just thinking about them all!” he states with a smile.
Mathews attended the broadcast meteorology program at Mississippi State University. After graduation, he eventually landed a job at WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida.
Of course, Jacksonville is very similar to Houston in regard to its weather, so Mathews reported on more than his share of Florida hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, and heat. The position also provided him with national media exposure while doing live reports from the coasts of Mississippi and Florida during Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Karen. Those segments aired in major markets across the nation.
“I succeeded in Jacksonville because the climate there was very much like my hometown,” he recalls with gratitude. “I must add that the beach in Jacksonville was nice, and being close to Orlando was entertaining, but I am so happy to be back. There’s just no place like home.”
When Mathews joined Houston’s KHOU team in 2016, he was not living life as a fully out gay man. Having grown up as a religious conservative, he was still wrestling with who he was.
“Being gay haunted me for a long time,” Mathews explained. “I understood the unconditional love Jesus extended to all, so I couldn’t understand how I would be sent to hell for being gay—something I had no control over and played no role in determining. I could not reconcile it.”
This confusion caused Mathews to resist being authentic with others, and his defiance carried a hefty price tag. “I am a thinker, and when I reflect back on it now, I realize I alienated a lot of people and relationships over time. I was not true to my religious or conservative convictions, and I was not true to myself, either. I was not true to anyone, because I displeased myself,” Mathews states with sadness in his voice.
Before the weatherman decided to come out publicly during this OutSmart interview, he discussed it with his news director at Channel 11. Historically, KHOU has been deeply committed to supporting diversity and inclusion, so we suspected that Mathews’ proposed announcement would be no exception.
“When I sat down one-on-one with our news director, I told her I needed to share a secret, and then I explained that I was gay. She smiled and said, ‘Your secret is not that big a secret,’” Mathews recalls, laughing. “They knew it, but I didn’t!
“She said I was a part of the KHOU family, and like all members of our family, the very first thing KHOU wanted for me was to be happy and fulfilled. She told me not to worry, that nothing at work would change,” Mathews says.
Securing a position as a meteorologist in his hometown means Mathews is now living his dream. So what’s next for him? “I would like to enter a relationship [where I can] share the ‘burdens of life.’ I want to have a family, meet a mortgage, and get up early to take the children to soccer practice,” he muses. “I am 33 years old now. It’s time.”
Until then, you might find Mathews traveling to exotic lands, working out in a gym or, in his most peaceful moments, playing with his beloved dogs Winston Oliver and Chop Suey.
“I love dogs. Sometimes I wonder if we humans deserve these wonderful creatures. Talk about unconditional love—who provides more of it than our dogs? Is it really a coincidence that ‘God’ spelled backward is ‘dog’?” Mathews concludes with a laugh. “I truly doubt it.”
This article appears in the June 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.