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CNN’s Don Lemon Just Came Out. What’s Next: Lemons Or Lemonade?

CNN anchor Don Lemon killed two birds with one stone this weekend by coming out while plugging his new book Transparent in a New York Times interview. He also released a heartfelt official statement where he admitted being molested as a kid and staying closeted for fear of hatred, mockery, and rejection. His Twitter supporters have been awesome so far. But as NYT writer Bill Carter wonders, will Lemon’s admission carry any career or community repercussions?

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.”

Lemon got an Edward R. Murrow Award for covering the capture of the D.C. area sniper and other awards for his reporting on Hurricane Katrina and the African AIDS epidemic. Ebony magazine also voted him as one of the 150 most powerful African-Americans in 2009. He also came out as a victim of molestation amid the Eddie Long molestation scandal which rocked Long’s predominantly African-American conservative congregation.

So Lemon’s high standing, career accolades, and reputation for honesty have provided him a solid base on which to come out. And while it’s awesome he has done so in his own way—especially as one of the few openly-gay news anchors currently on TV—will he face any backlash for coming out? On the contrary, Lemon could easily position himself as an effective LGBT advocate both behind and away from the news desk. Listen for clues of his next moves forward when he appears on the CNN Newsroom and Joy Behar’s show this week.

Guess that means we can count Lemon out as a suspect in Howard Bragman’s big celebrity coming out.

On:           May 16, 2011
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    • Cliff

      And? Since when did kneegrows coming out count for anything?

      May 16, 2011 at 7:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EdWoody

      No, you can’t “count Lemon out as a suspect in Howard Bragman’s big celebrity coming out” because this IS that event.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Philo

      Lemon is a honey!

      May 16, 2011 at 7:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)


      I know!

      Hello guys? THIS was the big coming out. Check out blind gossip.com

      It is SOLVED.

      May 16, 2011 at 8:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • declanto

      I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO relieved, the suspense was just killing me. Anderson, you can go back to bed now.

      May 16, 2011 at 8:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      Congratulations to Mr. Lemon, and thanks for the honesty! :)

      May 16, 2011 at 9:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • A.G.

      Don Lemon is a celebrity ?

      May 16, 2011 at 9:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gigi

      @declanto – Why are people so glib about announcements like this? Even though I came out a long time ago I remember what torture it was, not knowing who would/would not stand by me. Not knowing if I’d have any friends of family after-the-fact. While I wish it were different, the sad reality is that oftentimes people feel that the have to remain closeted to be successful in their chosen field.
      Rick Welts, president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, just came out as well. We should be supporting these men and respect the fact that their strength and courage could mean that one less child takes his or her life today.

      May 16, 2011 at 9:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      Don Lemon has basically echoed my own sentiments about the homophobic nature of black culture. A lot of you attacked me viciously for bringing it up – even calling me a racist – but now I’ve been vindicated by a black man. So there.

      I have always said that, on an individual basis, black people can be ultra-beautiful people. There are black people I would have as neighbors over many white people. However, it is also an inconvenient truth that black culture is based on male heterosexual assertion and female submission. It’s a form of patriarchy that can also be seen quite starkly in Africa.

      I said some time ago that, if you look at black music, there has never been an openly gay or bisexual male in the top ten charts. Consider how many black artists there have been over all these years and yet not one – not one single solitary fucking one – has been openly gay or bisexual. What more proof do you need?

      And to all those who attacked me in the past, you can go and eat crow.

      May 16, 2011 at 9:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gregger

      @Gigi: This has to do more with Howard Bragman’s dangling the “major celebrity coming out” for the last week. Yes it’s nice to have GLBT role models, but I look forward to the day when a major celeb comes out and the public goes, “yeah and…” It’d really be a major thing to have people just think nothing of a person coming out.

      May 16, 2011 at 10:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran

      It’s great to live in today’s world when a man like Don Lemon comes out that both straight women and men wish they could have sex with. It must be confusing and disconcerting as hell for the heteroes who have been conditioned by the media to think of Richard Simmons when they think of gay men. Bravo Don Lemon!

      May 16, 2011 at 10:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • George412

      Not a surprise at all. Before I die I hope someone comes out that actually shocks me. Lemon has been rumored for years.

      May 16, 2011 at 10:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Southside Shorty

      @jason: I too have been called racist on this site for speaking truth to how so many minorities — black, hispanic, muslim, etc — have nothing but contempt for homosexuality of any sort, and yet Queerty and its many sycophantic readers continue to trumpet their solidarity with these groups, groups who if they had their way would deport or behead all of us. Glad to see I’m not the only guy around who views the world as realistic and not rose-colored.

      May 16, 2011 at 11:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rocky

      @jason: And White American heterosexual culture is more tolerant? I’m not trying to be sarcastic but Pat Robertson, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, The Catholic Church, and the Mormons are not black people or black organizations.

      May 16, 2011 at 11:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stephanie

      I am very happy for Mr Lemon. It took a lot of courage to do this and I hope others will follow suit.

      May 16, 2011 at 11:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Real

      Imagine that, he came out the same time he is peddling a book! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…

      May 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree

      I know a few local-ish TV reporters who are THRILLED that Mr. Lemon came out. It helps pave the way for less-established people, particularly those who are POCs.

      (BTW, when is David Muir going to follow?)

      May 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981

      Honestly surprised it was a news personality, and I stand corrected that it couldn’t be done. Anderson, Robin….I am waiting.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kory

      @Gigi: VERY WELL SAID!!! Str8 or gay we ALL NEED to support them. On the one had ppl say they should be honest about who the are then they come out and others throw rocks! Dumb!

      May 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sullivan

      I already knew simply by being in “the game” as long as I have, so blah. However, congrats, Lemon. Now a few others on CNN such as Anderson Cooper needs to come on out and admit, since his pics of him and his male-lover are all over the net. So next!

      May 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sullivan

      @Shannon1981: Lol…exactly. especially Anderson Cooper since his theme on his show, nightly, is “Keeping ‘Em Honest” and pics of him and his gay-lover are all over the net.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DMWN

      @jason: I’m not eating crow “jason.” I still stand by my past assertions that you are a racist, a coward, and an idiot. With a chip on your shoulder, you troll for attention gay blogs — such as this and Towleroad — posting a bunch of repetitious gibberish, while taking comfort in your ability to be able to simultaneously hide behind a computer monitor to say things you’re tiny, grape-sized testicles would never give you the nerve to say to someone’s face in person. Quite frankly my man, you’re a pussy. Delusions of grandeur; Don Lemon did not vindicate you in any way. And I take nothing back.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DMWN

      @jason: I’m not eating crow “jason.” I still stand by my past assertions that you are a racist, a coward, and an idiot. With a chip on your shoulder, you troll for attention gay blogs — such as this and Towleroad — posting a bunch of repetitious gibberish, while taking comfort in your ability to be able to simultaneously hide behind a computer monitor to say things you’re tiny, grape-sized testicles would never give you the nerve to say to someone’s face in person. Quite frankly my man, you’re a pu$$y. Delusions of grandeur; Don Lemon did not vindicate you in any way. And I take nothing back.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hesmine

      @jason: Slyvester and Jermaine Stewart

      May 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • matt baume

      @DMWN: Thanks for weighing in, but we don’t talk to or about people that way here. So please rein in the personal attacks.

      May 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker

      @Southside Shorty: That’s rich coming from a self-proclaimed rethug. Your own party hates you, but you still vote for them. That’s your right, but a little self-awareness, please!

      May 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker

      Why is every gay republican on queerty racist? They don’t have to be, but they are. They are on some mission to prove every black, Muzz, Hispanic, etc. wants to slice their throat, but they belong to a party of inbred southerners would would do the same thing to them! wtf?

      May 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sunset12

      I had no idea that Don Lemon was 45 years old. He must have a Dorian Gray-like portrait stashed away that ages while he stays perpetually young.

      Btw, why make sweeping generalizations about homophobia amongst African Americans?

      Yes, there are homophobic black folks, many of whom justify their behavior due to supposed religious convictions. But does that mean all or even most black folks are homophobes? I don’t think so.

      May 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker

      @Sunset12: black don’t crack!

      May 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Southside Shorty

      @delurker: I know you can’t help your lack of knowledge, but FYI, I don’t live in the south. Not on any “mission” to deride minorities, either, I’m just honest and realistic. Sorry if that doesn’t fall in with your definition of the perfect gay (i.e., a hardcore lefty who despises all things white and heterosexual).

      May 17, 2011 at 9:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker

      @Southside Shorty: i didn’t say you lived in the south. i said your party is comprised of southern crackers who hate your [email protected] ass. you give them a pass and grovel at their feet but you deride minorities. why?

      May 17, 2011 at 9:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CJ

      I noticed in a recent interview of him that he appeared to have a wedding ring on. But, unfortunately the reporter (Joy B) never asked him about relationships in his life. Maybe it is “too soon” to acknowledge that he actually has a relationship.

      In that same interview he encouraged other news anchors to come out. It seems a bit early for him to start encouraging others to come out – when he only just came out himself.

      My guess is that Anderson Cooper will come out in a much less publicized fashion. Either he’ll let one of his comedian friends humorously “spill the beans” during an on-the-air interview with him, or he’ll casually mention it himself. I doubt that he’ll make much news out of it.

      May 17, 2011 at 11:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeff4justice

      He’s handsome.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • askduane

      Everytime I hear something like this I can’t help thinking of the story in the Bible about “Lot” and his family in Sodom and Gomorrah, they became so wicked God said to his angels, destroy this place but save “Lot” and his family. My point is this, when the angels materalized went to Lots house to warn him, Lot pushed them inside to hide them, why? the men of the town saw them and wanted to have them, so a crowd went banging on his door to let them in. You know the rest of the story. My point is this, “Lot” represents believers and there families, the house is God’s Kingdom, the angels like the “blood of Christ” protecting you. If your home is not protected with the blood, they will come in and molest your kids. Well we let our guard down and let them in, nothing else to do now but send the death angel to destory the new sodom/gomorrah of today. Don’t look back when it happens. When you get baptised, don’t look back. Each parent must ask the question, how did they get in my home to get my kids? maybe by videos and game consoles.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • askduane

      Don Lemon and Eddie Long, when I first saw each of them, in the back of my mind a flag went up, but i just brushed it aside till now. This is not nice, it’s Nasty! it’s Demonic all the way.Nothing against these men personally, they are in bondage to demons spirits.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ruforreal

      Huge disappointment! I’ve watched Mr. Lemon for many years, but I guess I’ll have to find my news source somewhere else. It’s a crying shame that so many talented people choose unnatural affection as a lifestyle. Even though many people give acceptance to it, it is still despicable human behavior.

      Aug 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • roseanne

      @askduane Great comment, may God continue to bless u with more wisdom.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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