Ohio Anchor Comes Out On-Air and Reveals She Has Girlfriend in 'Big Moment': 'Visibility Matters' (Exclusive)

"I’m just being myself — a journalist and a news anchor who loves her job and happens to be gay," Taylor Bruck tells PEOPLE

<p>Taylor Bruck</p> Taylor Bruck and Lauren Lanzaretta.

Taylor Bruck

Taylor Bruck and Lauren Lanzaretta.

To viewers, it sounded like a fairly typical on-air chat between two weekend morning news anchors at Spectrum News 1 Ohio — but for Taylor Bruck, it meant a whole lot more.

Alexa Maslowski, Bruck’s co-anchor, was discussing how she spent her Thanksgiving when Bruck said the extent of her plans centered around visiting her “girlfriend" in Cleveland.

Bruck, 25, tells PEOPLE that the decision to “come out” on-air during the Nov. 26 broadcast was a “spur-of-the-moment" thing.

“I told myself, ‘Just say it,’” she shares. “When I finally said it out loud, I smiled inside because it was a big moment for me."

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The Emmy-winning reporter, whose station covers Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, as well as other areas of the state, then shared the clip on social media to celebrate the first time she said “girlfriend” on television.

“A seemingly simple yet scary word… I said ‘girlfriend’ on air for the first time today, which some people may say 'ok, who cares?' … but to me it’s a step toward accepting and loving myself fully and being authentic on and off the air," she captioned the video. "IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS 🥰🥂🥳."

But the Ohio native, who graduated college in 2020, says she didn’t “realize how meaningful it would be for over a million people worldwide.”

<p>Taylor Bruck</p> Taylor Bruck.

Taylor Bruck

Taylor Bruck.

As of Monday, the video has more than 110,000 views on TikTok and 190,000 likes on Instagram — and there have been countless comments that laud her bravery.

“Messages are pouring in from all around the world, including Ghana, Germany, Australia, London, as well as many states across the U.S.,” Bruck tells PEOPLE of the surreal impact. “People are telling me how much this visibility means to them and that they’re so proud of me.”

“I remember being a kid hearing someone on the TV mention her girlfriend and it truly does make an impact for those not yet out of the closet :)),” one person commented on the video. Meanwhile, another social media user called it "the highlight of my day," writing, "I hope you know how impactful it is to others."

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Bruck met her girlfriend, singer-songwriter Lauren Lanzaretta, in Cleveland while the anchor was working in the city. The pair bonded over their love for Mariah Carey and “passion for living life to the fullest without taking it too seriously."

Coming out on-air was significant for Bruck, who has always been "very open" about being gay on social media. "I always try to encourage others to live their truths, so I decided to fully live mine," she says.

“I have been so lucky to have family and friends who have loved and supported me for who I am since the moment I came out,” Bruck adds. “And now with this social media post, I have been blown away by additional support.”

<p>Taylor Bruck</p> Taylor Bruck.

Taylor Bruck

Taylor Bruck.

Still, Bruck doesn’t see herself as a hero and says that her sexual orientation isn't solely what defines her. “I’m just being myself — a journalist and a news anchor who loves her job and happens to be gay,” she says.

She's also been inspired by other prominent LGBTQ journalists, like CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC's Robin Roberts, who push her to continue “being authentic and unafraid."

And as she approaches the end of a year in which she's been her most truthful self, Bruck is looking forward to being with family and Lanzaretta during the holidays. The couple has already shared some special Christmas events together.

Related: News Anchor Gets Engaged After Boyfriend Surprises Her for 'Special Report': 'I’m Going to Cry'

“Lauren and I went to Mariah Carey’s Christmas concert in Detroit and had a blast!” she says. “We also put up our first Christmas tree together and made Lauren’s apartment nice and cozy. We both plan to spend time with our families on Christmas and enjoy the rest of what 2023 has to offer!”

As she looks towards the new year, Bruck says she feels proud to have her personal and professional “support system."

“I’m so grateful for being able to be myself on and off the screen because visibility matters," she says, "and it saves lives."

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