Jorge Estevez celebrated his first day on air at WSB-TV on Jan. 13, officially making him the first openly LGBTQ anchor and second Latinx anchor in the station’s 72-year history.
“The nerves were going. The excitement was happening,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “I got the sweats. I got the meat sweats like when you go to a Brazilian steakhouse and they keep giving you meat.”
Estevez (photo) placed a fan underneath the anchor desk to help with those sweats. And he’s learning other ways to settle in at a new station in a new city since moving here from Orlando in late December with his husband, Enrique Betancourt.
The couple initially planned to move on Dec. 27. But on Betancourt's birthday on Dec. 26, he couldn’t wait.
“He woke up and said, ‘I got a crazy idea. Let’s start our new life in Atlanta today. Let’s go. I want to celebrate my birthday starting our new lives.’” And I was like, ‘Alright, let’s go! And it began,’” Estevez said.
But getting to this point in his life and career as an out gay man came with much tougher decisions and consequences along the way.
‘You can’t change people’
Estevez kept his sexual orientation a secret for several years after moving to Orlando for a job at WFTV in 2001.
“I was super in,” he said. “I was in the closet in the back with the old photo albums, under the box, buried in the blanket.”
For his 30th birthday in 2005, he told his parents he wanted a big party with meringue cake, guava pastries, croquettes and balloons.
“I said that because I had a feeling that would be my last birthday as a family, as an accepted member, as someone who they loved and admired,” Estevez said. “And I was right, because when I came out [in 2006], my father disowned me.”
His father, who he considered his best friend, still hasn’t spoken to him – 14 years later.
“I’m fine with that now because I’m older and more mature and I’ve done lots of therapy,” he said. “You can’t change people. You can only change your attitude toward people.”
Estevez’s friends and others in Orlando were much more accepting. He quickly became involved in the city’s LGBTQ community after coming out. He also helped the city heal after the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub shooting in 2016 by hosting a vigil that drew over 50,000 people, according to Estevez.
Estevez roaming LGBTQ Atlanta
WSB announced Estevez’s hiring in November, and he’s been busy getting to know Atlanta since moving with Betancourt into their Midtown home.
“The best thing about this place is it is a city in the forest,” he said. “And you have amazing bridges and creeks and railroads and paths and trails and parks, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to explore it all.”
Estevez documents his Atlanta adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for his 100,000 followers. He's already visited several LGBTQ favorites, including Piedmont Park, Henry’s Midtown Tavern and the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.
He also wants to get involved in LGBTQ issues in his new home city.
“I want to go to the fun stuff too, but I also want to see what we are doing for the youth, or for the older members of our community who often get forgotten or don’t feel like they get enough attention or help or assistance,” he said.
Estevez anchors the station's 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekday broadcasts with Jovita Moore.
“We really have gotten so close so quickly,” he said. “She’s amazing. She’s a rock star.”
He's been met with little resistance being WSB’s first openly gay anchor.
“Being the first of anything comes with its benefits and challenges,” he said. “I haven’t seen the challenges. I’ve seen a lot of benefits in that people really don’t seem to give it a lot of attention.”
At WSB, Estevez joins gay meteorologist Brian Monahan and anchors – including Moore – with long histories of hosting and appearing at HIV and LGBTQ events.
Atlanta lost an LGBTQ anchor in 2019. CBS46's Thomas Roberts quit the station in September, just over a year after joining, and the station dropped gay morning anchor Brandon Rudat in 2014. Gay weather anchor Sam Champion was based in Atlanta until 2016 when he was pushed out at Weather Channel.