CNN anchor Don Lemon has made a name for himself covering stories for the venerable news channel, but, now, Lemon is making headlines himself after revealing in his new autobiography, Transparent, that he is gay, a decision which he claims is frightening but hopefully inspiring for other closeted LGBT individuals.
In a recent telephone interview with The New York Times, Lemon explained that he understands that his sexuality will bring about criticism.
“People are going to say, ‘Oh, he was molested as a kid and, now, he is coming out.’ I get it,” he said. “I’m scared. I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.”
Lemon, who has been out to most of his CNN co-workers for years, also explains that, besides the impact that the revelation will have on his public persona, he recognizes the added difficulty in coming out as a gay man in the black community.
“It’s quite different for an African American male,” said Lemon. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man. You have to be masculine. In the black community, they think you can pray the gay away.”
Lemon adds that he believes the black community’s negative attitude toward homosexuality stems from the long history of discrimination that blacks have endured, which has affected their perception of race and other minorities as well as the mindset of black women toward gay and bisexual men.
“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women,” said Lemon. “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”
For Lemon, the decision to come out came about after being approached by a publisher to write a short inspirational book. As he explains, as he began to write, details of his personal life began to spill on the page and, with the support of his publisher, he decided to share his story with the world.
Lemon hopes that his revelation can help others come out of the closet and prevent suicides like the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.
“I think it would be great if everybody could be out,” explained Lemon. “But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world,” said Lemon, adding “I think if I had seen more people like me who are out and proud, it wouldn’t have taken me 45 years to say it, to walk in the truth.”
What do you think of Lemon coming out of the closet? – nicholas robinson