Meet ABC’s Gio Benitez, Upstander and Host of TCF’s Biggest Event of the Year!

The ABC News journalist shares his experience with James Clementi about being bullied and how technology is opening up new opportunities to connect and end bullying.

Portrait of Gio Benitez

TCF is delighted to announce that ABC’s Gio Benitez will host this year’s Upstander Legacy Celebration! Tickets are going fast, and we look forward to celebrating with you and Gio on Monday, November 14th, 2016.

James Clementi: Have you or someone you been personally impacted by bullying? 
Gio Benitez: Absolutely. I was bullied and made fun of all throughout my younger years (when I was about 10-15). Everything from my teeth, to the pitch of my young voice, to how skinny I was, to not playing any sports — I was torn apart by it all, and found comfort going home and watching cartoons and afternoon comedy shows — my way of an escape, I guess.

James Clementi: As an openly gay Latino journalist, you are paving a way to make things easier for the next generation to succeed in their chosen career. What are some obstacles you encountered on your path to success, and how did you overcome them?
Gio Benitez: When I was first starting out on TV in Miami, I was told by another young reporter that I couldn’t be both openly gay and successful. I remember seriously wondering if that was true. And I think that’s a challenge for many people in the public eye. But I decided I couldn’t keep that to myself my whole life. That personal decision, I believe, allowed me to feel much more comfortable with myself and my work.

Gio Benitez Social TileJames Clementi: Much of your reporting has centered on social justice issues, such as the Trayvon Martin case and police brutality. As you have worked to raise awareness, what do you hope to see our society do with this awareness?
Gio Benitez: I hope as a society, we are able to show kindness to each other — true, real kindness that comes from the heart.

James Clementi: You are the first TV reporter ever to shoot a story entirely on an iPhone. How do you view the role of technology is our lives?
Gio Benitez: I think technology completely envelopes our lives. Most of us reach for our phones the moment we wake up — Twitter, newsfeeds, email, texts, videos. We are bombarded by information! It’s the greatest age for sharing information. During presidential debates, everyday citizens are fact checking the candidates — it’s remarkable and exciting. But there’s also a truly dark side: cyber bullying. So many, including myself, can’t escape cruel words on social media. That’s incredibly sad, but it also means that every person can use those same digital tools to help prevent and perhaps even stop online bullying. For example, my husband created a digital campaign with the hashtag #WorldNeedsMoreLove. How great if we all woke up each day with a phrase like that in mind.

Come meet Gio Benitez at the Upstander Legacy Celebration to join him in our work to end bullying! Reserve your spot today, and help the Tyler Clementi Foundation make a measurable difference in the health and safety of today’s youth.

Gio Benitez is an ABC News correspondent and host of Fusion’s edition of “Nightline” based in New York. He reports for all ABC News programs and platforms including “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight with David Muir,” “Nightline” and “20/20.” Benitez was born and raised in Miami and fluent in both English and Spanish. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.