Former B.A.R. reporter Chuck Colbert dies

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday August 17, 2022
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Chuck Colbert. Photo: Courtesy Facebook
Chuck Colbert. Photo: Courtesy Facebook

Chuck Colbert, a gay man who was a freelance reporter for the Bay Area Reporter for many years, died June 30. He was 67.

According to a friend's post on Mr. Colbert's Facebook page, he experienced a serious medical issue while traveling in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and was admitted to a hospital in Pittsburgh, where he developed complications and passed away.

Mr. Colbert, who lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, frequently wrote about the Catholic Church for the B.A.R., as well as other issues.

In 2012, he wrote about the mixed reaction LGBTQs had to Salvatore Cordileone, the former bishop of Oakland who was named archbishop of San Francisco. He also wrote about Netroots Connect, an LGBTQ group that gathered just prior to the progressive Netroots Nation conference in 2014 in Detroit.

According to an obituary in the Windy City Times, for which Mr. Colbert also reported, he was a former NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists national board member and Boston/New England chapter president. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he also held advanced degrees in business, psychology, and theology, from Georgetown University, Harvard University and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, now part of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

He was a longtime contributor to the National Catholic Reporter, where he covered the child abuse sex scandal in the Boston archdiocese.

In addition to the Windy City Times and the B.A.R., Mr. Colbert was a senior reporter and columnist for the now-defunct In Newsweekly. He was a contributor to Press Pass Q, Keen News Service, and Boston Spirit magazine. Also, he had written for major mainstream daily newspapers and magazines, including the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and Harvard Business Review, the obituary noted.

Karen Ocamb, a lesbian former longtime journalist at the Los Angeles Blade, remembered Mr. Colbert in a Facebook post. "Chuck Colbert had a touch of old Cary Grant in him — dashing and debonair in his tuxedo at swank LGBTQ events," she wrote. "But he was also deeply humble and bursting with joy from his lifelong devotion to the core beliefs of the Catholic Church."

Ruth Goran, a friend of Mr. Colbert's, recalled meeting him.

"I first met Chuck at Temple Israel in Boston at Torah study on Saturday mornings when he was studying to be converted to Judaism," Goran, a lesbian who moved to Oakland several years ago, wrote in an email. "He was very friendly and warm and was very open about his disillusionment with Catholicism after the pedophilia scandal in Boston. We remained friends for as long as I lived in Boston and often spent time texting one another after I moved to California in 2014. He was a warm, intelligent, funny and charming person and I will miss him greatly."

Cathy Renna, a lesbian who's communications director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, knew Mr. Colbert for many years.

"Chuck was a colleague but more than that he was a good friend," she wrote in an email. "His commitment to helping make sure his work was always the best journalism he could be and his desire to make sure our community was covered in a fair and accurate way made him a pleasure to work with.

"I have so many fond memories of spending time with him at conferences and events and in particular working together to expose the Catholic Church is hypocrisy in scapegoating queer clergy during the abuse scandals of the last several decades," Renna added. "His unwavering faith was in many ways the motivation for that and made me admire him as someone of great integrity."

Updated, 8/17/22: This article has been updated with comments from Mr. Colbert's friends.

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