CNN anchor Don Lemon made a startling revelation live on the air during the height of last September's news coverage on the four sexual coercion lawsuits filed against anti-gay mega-church pastor Eddie Long: The anchor revealed that he had been the victim of a pedophile as a child. Lemon discusses that ordeal and for the first time publicly discusses that he is gay in the new memoir Transparent.
"It’s quite different for an African-American male," he said. "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.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.
"You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women." He added, "I guess this makes me a double minority now."
Mr. Lemon said he had been on a panel a couple of years ago called “The Black Man in the Age of Obama,” and was approached afterward by a publisher’s representative about writing an inspirational book.
"It was supposed to be a little pamphlet," he said. "You know: say your prayers; have a good, hearty handshake; say good morning to your boss." But as he began to write, he came to realize that he could not hold back the truth of who he was. He started to pour out the details of his personal life. How he had grown up not knowing his father, how he had suffered abuse by someone close to him.
The anchor joins a growing list of high-profile out newscasters, including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts. But the newsman was never "in" per se: Lemon anchored at my old station NBC 5 in Chicago and was fairly out to management and staff.
Don Lemon also becomes one of the very few Black openly gay personalities in cable or national news. Lemon's coming out was welcomed across cyber-space and media—especially by other Black gay television and film professionals.
"I am so proud of Don Lemon for being honest, proud and coming out," filmmaker Maurice Jamal told R20. "Don has been honest about his sexuality with management and co-workers, which is admirable in this industry. And now his revealing his true self to the masses marks an important step. I hope that others follow his footsteps."
Noah's Arc director Patrik-Ian Polk agreed. "When a high profile person like Don Lemon—who many let into their homes daily via their TV's—comes out, it makes a difference. The more of us who come out, the more they'll see—we're here 2 stay and we ain't going away."
Bravo and thank you, Don.
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CNN's Don Lemon Reveals Childhood Sexual Abuse