Arielle Orsuto spent the early portion of her career pretending to be someone else. As a young woman starting out in TV, she was told she had to look a certain way: long hair, dress, smile on her face.
After starting her career in Rapid City, S.D. (media market no. 169) and Wichita, Kan. (media market no. 70), Orsuto received her big break when she got the call to work for 9NEWS in Denver. Colo. (media market no. 16). It was a career-changing job; but more importantly, it was a life-changing opportunity.
When Orsuto sat down with the affiliate’s style consultant, the first words out of her mouth validated Orsuto in a way that she never felt before in the aesthetic-obsessed world of TV news.
The consultant told Orsuto she would look good if she cut her hair.
“That was the moment I finally exhaled, and felt like I belonged,” Orsuto told Outsports.
Orsuto, who grew up in a liberal New Jersey suburb outside of Philadelphia, came out to her family and friends when she was 15 years old. She spent her teenage years going to various Pride events, and couldn’t imagine not living an open life.
Orsuto thought it was that easy for everyone. Her thinking changed when she moved to the more conservative Great Plains.
Trying to establish herself, Orsuto didn’t think it was prudent to publicly come out — professionally and personally. There is a dearth of out TV sports reporters, especially women.
She thought there was no reason to rock the boat.
But Denver was different. Immediately, Orsuto saw how the progressive city embraces its LGBTQ community. She cut her hair, traded in her dresses, and started being more of her gay self.
“When I got here, it was a pretty immediate sigh of relief. Anywhere you went, if you went to the grocery store or a park or anywhere, you kind of just felt a vibe of people just being so kind and being so open and being like you,” she said. “It felt like it was a family here. I really felt like I belong in Denver.”
Orsuto has covered many big sports stories since joining 9NEWS in July 2019, including the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup win last season. She says she’s received no pushback from players or viewers over her sexuality.
“I’ve had just the greatest experience. It’s been so not talked about, it’s been so normal,” she said. “It’s been so like, ‘Yeah, no, that’s who she is. And that’s that.’ I don’t know that it could’ve been like this all along. I really think that I chose the right path.”
While Orsuto loves covering big events, ranging from “Monday Night Football” to the NHL playoffs, she’s now free to highlight the stories that matter the most to her. Some of her reporting is featured in a series called “Fair Game,” which explores female athletes and other sports stories impacting marginalized communities.
Journalistically, Orsuto feels liberated as well.
“I don’t think I would’ve done that had I not been proudly a part of one of these marginalized communities,” she said.
Speaking of being proud, Orsuto is happily married, tying the knot with her partner in June 2021. Though Orsuto says her partner doesn’t like the spotlight, she was allowed to post a few wedding pics on Instagram.
Earlier in Orsuto’s career, she presented an airbrushed version of herself to the audience. Now, they see her for who she really is.
That includes other LGBTQ sports reporters, who might be experiencing the same trepidation about coming out that she once felt.
Orsuto is proud to be an example.
“I thought it didn’t matter, until I realized there are so many people who are hiding and feel uncomfortable and don’t feel like they can be as open as I was,” she said. “Not everyone can live that way. They need to be able to see that you can live a life where you can be accepted, where you can be successful, where you can be happy, where you can be free. You can have that breath of fresh air, and life can be good.”