Prizm News / December 6, 2018 / By Bob Vitale

His open, happy and gracious life as a Central Ohio TV mainstay was its own form of activism. We’re all better off for it.

 

By Bob Vitale

In our community’s struggle for equality and acceptance, Chris Bradley did as much for the cause as anyone with a protest banner and megaphone.

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The Columbus meteorologist was a fixture on Central Ohio TV—and around the region at community events, in classrooms and more—for 20 years. And in a personality-driven business that hasn’t always been hospitable for LGBTQ personalities, he succeeded as his authentic self.

Bradley died Wednesday at age 53 of acute myeloid leukemia. He shared his April 2017 diagnosis and much of his 20-month battle on social media, just as he shared all other aspects of his life.

Chris Bradley was an out, proud gay man whose openness with TV viewers of Central Ohio came during a tumultuous time for LGBTQ people.

We’re told that it’s vitally important, for the greater good of our community, for us to come out to our friends, families, neighbors and coworkers because it’s more difficult for people to oppose us if they know one of us. Bradley’s openness about his identity—his celebration of his love, his family and his community—meant that every one of his viewers knew one of us.

With a reach into 900,000 homes across 21 Ohio counties, his impact on the lives of all of us can’t be underestimated.

He married his husband, Jason Bradley-Krauss, on Oct. 3, 2014, when Ohio still restricted marriage rights and as Jim Obergefell’s marriage-equality lawsuit was working its way through federal courts in our state.

He posted photos on their wedding day, on their first anniversary and twice more: on June 26, 2015, the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality, and on Nov. 18 of this year, the day he announced that he had stopped treatment and was beginning hospice care at home in Worthington.

“This photo was from the happiest day of my life, the day we married with our two kids right at our sides,” he said last month.

Bradley would stand on stage with Jason and their two children, Spencer and Maria, when he emceed Picnic With the Pops and other local events. They were regulars at Columbus Pride, and he jokingly took the blame for a 2015 downpour that washed out the festival in Goodale Park.

On WBNS-TV, where Bradley had worked since 2006, anchors Jerry Revish and Yolanda Harris, sportscaster Dom Tiberi and meteorologist Mike Davis wiped away tears Wednesday night as they remembered their friend.

“He touched so many lives by sharing his life with us,” Revish said.

In its tributes to Bradley, WBNS aired an entire segment on what he meant to LGBTQ residents of Central Ohio. Revish called him a role model for the LGBTQ community.

WATCH 10TV’S TRIBUTE TO CHRIS BRADLEY AS AN LGBTQ COMMUNITY LEADER

Don Wallick, a former associate pastor at King Avenue United Methodist Church told reporter Glenn McEntyre that Chris and Jason, at least briefly, contemplated how publicly out they wanted to be.

“The essence of Chris and Jason both is that they wanted to live authentically and genuinely,” Wallick told McEntyre. “And Chris being a public figure on TV, if you’re going to be genuine and authentic, then that means being genuine and authentic everywhere. And so they kind of took a deep breath and started doing that.”

It couldn’t have been easy to read judgmental comments posted under your wedding photos, but Bradley’s social media posts and public appearances with his family were greeted far more often with the same kind of warmth, support and love that he shared from his own heart.

Former Kaleidoscope Youth Center Director Amy Eldridge told WBNS about the time  Bradley hosted the LGBTQ group’s annual fundraiser. He spoke about his own struggles as a young person coming to terms with his gay identity. But he also shared his happiness and success, Eldridge said.

“Here was someone highly successful in his career, really beloved by the wider Columbus community,” she said. “And seeing that example, sometimes it saves lives. It can turn people around, make them less lonely, make them realize that they, too, are valuable and can be loved for who they are.”

Chris Bradley truly was a role model, not just as a member of the LGBTQ community but also as a professional, a citizen and a person of faith. And in the last 20 months, as he shared his hope in new treatments and the setbacks that eventually followed, he became a role model of grace and dignity in the face of adversity.

“Please always remember that which we share in common is stronger than our differences,” he wrote on Nov. 18 in what became a farewell to the communities he loved. “I am sincerely humbled to know I can call you all friends.”

We’re honored to have been able to call Chris Bradley a friend as well.

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.