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AP reporter’s intimate story of yearslong journey to coming out

Bobby Calvan poses in New Yorkm Oct, 9m 2022, in front of a painting of the view from his childhood home in Waimanalo, Hawaii. His journey out of the closet has taken decades. Now 57, he is still sharing his truth about his sexuality. The journey hasn’t ended— it’s just beginning as he now lives his life as the man he believes he was meant to be. (AP Photo / Julia Nikhinson)

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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.

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In photo at left, 4-year-old Bobby Calvan, front left, holds his younger brother’s wrist while posing with his siblings in December 1969 as the family prepared to leave the Philippines for Hawaii. At right, in a 1997 photo taken about a year before his father’s death, AP writer Bobby Calvan, center, poses with his mother and father, Erlinda and Florentino Calvan in Morgan Hill, Calif. – Photos courtesy Calvan Family via AP
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