Smith referred to his partner as “Gio” in an emotional, 13-minute tribute to former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Ailes died in Palm Beach, Florida at age 77 on May 18 after falling the week before.
Here is what you need to know about Shepard’s boyfriend.
1. Graziano Worked Several Jobs at Fox News & Fox Business
According to his Linkedin page, Graziano has worked numerous jobs at Fox News, starting as a summer intern in 2008, before moving up to become a production assistant for Smith.
Gawker reported that Graziano was moved from Smith’s show to Varney & Company because it would have been a “conflict of interest” for Smith to date a subordinate.
Graziano is currently an associate producer for Varney & Company.
2. He Studied Journalism at Penn State University
According to social media profiles, Graziano studied broadcast journalism at Penn State University between 2005 and 2008.
Gawker reported that Smith and Graziano were spotted at sports bars watching football games when either Ole Miss or Penn State were playing.
Smith attended the University of Mississippi, but did not graduate. As People Magazine noted in a 2003 profile of Smith, he dropped out before he could get the final two credits he needed so he could marry Virginia Donald. Their marriage ended in 1993 and they did not have any children together.
3. They’ve Been Seen Around Manhattan Together
There are reports that Smith and Graziano have been seen together, numerous times, at different hot spots around Manhattan. This was also reported earlier by Gawker when the two were seen together at Bathtub Gin.
The site later reported that Shepard Smith yelled at a waitress at popular Manhattan speakeasy Bathtub Gin. The waitress shared that one of the men accompanying Smith that night was his “boyfriend.”
Slate responded to the story wondering why Gawker felt compelled to “kick open the closet door” in the middle of a story about Smith’s barroom tantrum. Their finding, “There’s no other way to do it [outing Smith] without seeming sleazily reactionary.” Slate also criticized the now-defunct Gawker for publishing an article that revolves around the gossipy detail that Smith has a boyfriend.
4. Smith Finally Spoke About His Sexuality At an Ole Miss Talk in April 2017
Smith tried to refrain from talking about his sexuality for as long as he could, even as OUT Magazine put him on their list of 50 most powerful LGBT media personalities.
Smith finally confirmed that he is gay and has a partner during a talk at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, in April 2017. As The Clarion-Ledger reports, Smith said his sexuality is a non-issue.
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with.”
Smith did come very close to confirming that he’s gay in a Huffington Post story in October 2016, when he denied rumors that Ailes kept him from coming out publicly.
“That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” Smith told HuffPo. “I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”
Smith also told the site that Ailes always treated him with respect. “I wasn’t new in the business when I came here ― I’d been doing reporting for 12 years ― but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place,” Smith told HuffPo.
5. Smith Confirmed His Partner Is Named ‘Gio’ in His Ailes Eulogy
In his Ailes eulogy on May 18, Smith confirmed that his partner’s name is Gio. He also told viewers that Ailes helped him out when someone tried to blackmail him.
“He would try to prepare me for that and lead me through it,” Smith recalled. “When a blackmailer entered my life and the lives of my family, he held my hand and saw me to the other side. When details of my personal life became public, he supported me.”
Smith also recalled a time when he went to a company party at Ailes’ house with Graziano for the first time. Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth Ailes, took Graziano on a tour. He said that the Ailes treated them “like family,” even though Elizabeth had never met his partner before.
“It was a signal to our Fox community, to everyone else, that our relationship was a good thing,” Smith said through tears.