Finding His Way
Scot Haney is living the life he’s meant to live
By Cara ROSNER / Photography by Todd Fairchild
When you know, you know. Before then, you just think you know.
Scot Haney first suspected he was gay when he was in first grade and a sixth-grade student came into his Long Island classroom to help the teacher.
“I had the biggest crush on this sixth-grade student. They looked like Christopher Atkins in ‘Blue Lagoon,’” Haney recalls, thinking back to 1970. “I was in love with this person. Then I found out that person was a girl, and I was upset. I was, like, angry. Because I wanted it to be a boy. As far back as first grade, I knew that something was different here.”
But, of course, having that realization and accepting what it means are two very different things. It would be nearly 20 years before Haney would come out, at age 26. And, like many young people finding themselves, his path took some confusing turns. In third grade, he dreamed one night he lived with a girl and woke up thinking, “I might be straight!” But years later, in middle school, he was “grossed out” playing Spin the Bottle with girls.
“The kids at school, the bullies knew. They knew before I knew,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m not gay because I haven’t acted on it.’ [But] they knew, and it was not great in high school.”
But his first kiss, in ninth grade with a girl named Karen, brought more certainty for him. “Everyone was like, ‘You and Karen should go out.’ And I kissed her, and I was like, ‘Ugh.’ I really didn’t feel anything. [I thought,] ‘I clearly like boys and I don’t like girls in that romantic sense.’”
These days, many in Connecticut know Haney as the meteorologist who delivers forecasts weekday mornings on WFSB Channel 3’s “Eyewitness News.” Over the past two decades, he has become one of the highest-profile on-air personalities in Connecticut and has helped thousands of people wake up and start their days. He also brings his warm and lighthearted personality to the network’s “Better Connecticut” lifestyle show.
While he loves his job, and appreciates the journey – both professional and personal – it took to get here, Haney, 56, says people have misconceptions about him.
“A lot of people see me as constantly happy, ‘on’ all the time,” he says. “You can’t be ‘on’ all the time. I suffer from a little bit of anxiety, just about things, the world. The way the world is today, it stresses me out. I suffer from more anxiety than the average person would [guess].”
Growing up on Long Island, Haney spent many weekends of his childhood out on his family’s sailboat. When he was between the ages of 8 and 17, he recalls fondly, they took many trips to Cherry Grove on Fire Island, which became a family favorite.
He remembers thinking, during those Fire Island visits, “This is like heaven here. I see people like-minded, like me. As I got older, my family would always walk down to the gay beach because that’s where all the action was happening.”
His parents, Marlene and Bill, were supportive of the gay lifestyle they saw on display in places like Fire Island and New York City’s Greenwich Village – to a point.
“My dad was accepting, I think, as long as it wasn’t us,” Haney says of his father, who was an artist and often worked in Greenwich Village. His mother, he says, was more progressive. “I remember walking down the street in the Village and my mom would explain to me when I saw two guys holding hands, ‘That’s just the way they are.’”
But as the years went by, the trips to the gay beaches stopped. “You just do what is expected and you don’t want to be different from anybody else,” Haney says. “I never had sex with anybody; I never dated anybody. I tried to date a girl in college, which didn’t go well.”
Then Haney met Steven, at a Pathmark supermarket in Long Island where Haney was working full time as he prepared to go to graduate school and had his “first real kiss.” It was 1990 and Haney was 26.
“Two thoughts ran through my mind: I was never gonna run for Congress, and it was one of the best moments of my life,” he remembers. The relationship soured quickly – Steven broke up with him after two weeks, sending Haney into a depression – but it was a turning point in his life.
The first person he came out to was a close female friend, who immediately wanted to introduce him to another newly out man named Dan. Haney dated Dan for only a few months in grad school, but it was this relationship that prompted him to come out to his mother in 1991. When Haney was home on break from grad school, Dan called his house frequently (in pre-cell phone days, when there were only landlines), which made his mother curious.
“I started to cry; I felt like a big disappointment,” Haney says of that moment, but his mother was supportive from the outset. “[Shesaid,] ‘It’s not gonna be an easy life. I just want you to be happy and I want you to be prepared.’ AIDS was still pretty rampant; she was worried about my health. She didn’t want me to get beat up. It was a real, honest conversation, but I had an ally. My mom’s always been my strongest ally.”
His two brothers, both Christian, weren’t as supportive when Haney came out to them; one even initially tried to talk to him about conversion therapy treatments.
But by then, Haney was with longtime boyfriend Paul Marte, who he would be with for 19 years until 2012. “I think [my brothers] saw the fact that I was with Paul, I was in a great relationship, I really hadn’t changed much since before the time I told them to the time after I told them,” says Haney. “I just loved them and hoped they’d love me back. Over time, they realized that I’m not any different.”
Today, Haney says, his brothers are “very supportive.”
Finding a Home On-Screen
Just a month after meeting Paul, the out-and-in-love Haney got his first job in television in 1993 – in Topeka, Kansas, home of Fred Phelps, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church minister known for his extreme anti-gay views. Phelps even went so far as protesting at gay people’s funerals.
“I was terrified,” says Haney, who feared being outed and was a constant mix of homesick, worried, and nervous. “I had just met my partner a month before I moved to Kansas and we decided we were gonna try to make it work. I was so miserable. The interesting thing was, the audience was very receptive and they liked me; I just didn’t like being there.”
After moving back to the East Coast, he took several years off from TV and was working in advertising in New York City when a friend from grad school called to say News12 was seeking a part-time weatherperson in New Jersey. After getting that job, Haney moved on to News12’s Westchester affiliate before landing at Channel 3 in 1998.
“I partially chose my career path because there are other gay men in television, and it’s good to be surrounded by like,” he says. “I was also fascinated by being on television; I would watch the news growing up.”
At Channel 3, he found his career home. “I’m so lucky; [being gay] was never an issue. Channel 3 has been so supportive. My management team there has been incredible,” he says. “I’m living the life that I’m supposed to be living, and the station is appreciative of that.”
Continuing the Journey
Haney looks back on his breakup with Marte with a mix of nostalgia and regret. The two remain very close. After moving out of the large home he and Marte shared in Canton, Haney now lives in a townhouse in Hartford’s West End.
“We parted amicably,” he says of Marte, who is senior communications manager at the Bushnell in Hartford. “We text every day. The first thing every day, I get a text from him, ‘Have a good day. How are you?’ It wasn’t always that way; it was hard at first. There was no cheating, there was no horribleness. I was probably the one to blame for the relationship ending. I was just always curious about what else was out there.”
Haney met Marte when he was 28, just two years after he came out. “Hindsight is 20/20, but I had a good thing,” says Haney of the relationship. “My career took front and center, sometimes when it shouldn’t have.”
With a rigorous day job and a packed philanthropic calendar, Haney is a busy man. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, at least two weekends a month were booked with public appearances, most of which were to help charities. He also is on the board of directors of the Hartford chapter of Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that rebuilds homes and revitalizes communities; speaks to schoolchildren; and attends many evening events. In his rare downtime, he enjoys retreating to his home in Fire Island with his 17-year-old cat, Dash. “It’s about 125 steps from the ocean; that’s where I go to recharge and refuel.”
So, after all he’s been through – what he’s achieved, what he’s lost, and what he’s learned along the way – what would he say to his younger self, that closeted kid in Long Island? “You’re gonna be okay, you’re gonna be good, and you’re gonna be great. You might not be great in every part of this country, but there are places to live your life where being gay is completely terrific.”
Through his ups and downs, he has strived to push away the negative and seek out the positive, a strategy that has served him well, even if it’s sometimes been challenging.
“People might reject you. Those are the people that are not worth having in your life; they just don’t get it,” he says. “My mother was kind of right in a couple ways. It hasn’t always been an easy life, but it beats being in a closet, married, with pent-up feelings. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. It might not always seem that way, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and you just gotta ignore the naysayers and move toward the positive people.”