It was a blind item that ran on countless gossip blogs last week, but now CNN Anchor Don Lemon is putting all of the rumors to rest by coming out as gay in his new memoir Transparent in stores on June 16. Lemon will become one of three openly gay anchors on network news along with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts. Lemon shared his very personal decision to disclose his sexuality and why it took him so long during an interview with The New York Times.
The New York Times reports:
Mr. Lemon has not made a secret of his sexual orientation in his work life; many of his CNN co-workers and managers have long been aware that he is gay. But he still acknowledged that going public in his book carries certain risks.
“I’m scared,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.”
Even beyond whatever effect his revelation might have on his television career, Mr. Lemon said he recognized this step carried special risk for him as a black man.
“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.”
In a press release Lemon reveals his struggle to tell one of the most important black women in his life about his sexuality-his mother.
"There was a time when I was terrified of revealing these things to the person I love most in this world - my own mother. But when I finally mustered the courage to tell her that I had been molested as a child and that I was born gay, my life began to change in positive ways that I never imagined possible. Yet I still chose to keep those secrets hidden from the world. I, like most gay people, lived a life of fear. Fear that if some employers, co-workers, friends, neighbors and family members learned of my sexuality, I would be shunned, mocked and ostracized. It is a burden that millions of people carry with them every single day.
And sadly, while the mockery and ostracizing are realized by millions of people every day, I truly believe it doesn’t have to happen and that’s why I feel compelled to share what I’ve written in Transparent.
As a journalist I believe that part of my mission is to shed light onto dark places. So, the disclosure of this information does not inhibit in any way my ability to be the professional, fair and objective journalist I have always been."
Lemon has already begun to receive enormous support from fans and members of the gay community. Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend made it very clear about her support of Lemon and the support she expects him to receive from the gay community.
"Let me be one to say it loud and clear - we have your back, Don. Coming out is a life-changing event, be it to yourself, those close to your or to the public at large. You'll never know how many young black gay or lesbian people you are giving the strength to do the same. It's one step at a time, and all need to bolster themselves for the possible consequences -- good and bad. But no one ever regrets coming out in the end.
As a gay black man, Don Lemon's coming out is particularly powerful -- it will generate conversations that have only recently been broached about the double minority status of being gay and a person of color."
Lemon is dedicating Transparent to former Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi. Clementi took his own life last year by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with another male student was streamed on the internet.
"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", says Lemon.
“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,” Mr. Lemon said, “to walk in the truth.”
Bravo Don! Bravo!