This profile is part of Queerty’s 2022 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.
Name: Jerrod Carmichael, 35
Bio: Jerrod Carmichael is nothing more than a multi-hyphenated creative force. This North Carolina native can confidently call himself an accomplished comedian, writer, actor, producer, and filmmaker. His first on-screen opportunity came in the role of Garfield in the 2014 Seth Rogen-produced comedy Neighbors. He then landed his first taped comedy special Love At The Store, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee.
But, in 2015, he flexed his creative muscles with The Carmichael Show. Serving as the series’ creator, writer, and producer, as well as starring in the series, Carmichael’s comedy premiered with positive reviews. Three seasons and several GLAAD Media, NAACP, and Image Award nominations later, Carmichael moved on from his show to pursue new creative opportunities in 2017.
However, 2022 became the “Year of Carmichael.” He released his latest comedy special Rothaniel (which takes its title from a revealing personal detail we won’t spoil here) to rave reviews, hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time, inked an overall two-year deal with HBO, and won his first Emmy Award for the special.
Coming Out: Coming out to family and friends is one thing, but to come out to the world in your own comedy special is another. Carmichael’s Rothaniel was an emotional and transparent account of his life, family history, and secrets. Of course it was peppered with jokes, but what stood out within the special was his honesty on his sexuality.
Taped in February in New York City’s intimate Blue Note Jazz Club, the comedian let everyone into his world and came out as gay after recounting a story of his father’s infidelity.
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“After that was out in the open, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret,” he says in the special. “One that I kept from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I’m gay.”
The declaration was met with nothing but love from the audience, a feeling that wasn’t shared by those close to the comedian. Carmichael stated that he received mixed reactions from friends and family, but specifically mentioned that his relationship with his mother was more fraught than ever due to religious beliefs. Still, Carmichael found freedom in being himself worth the cost.
“As much as she believes in God, I believe in personal growth and feeling free,” he says. “And I do feel freer.”
Outstanding Talent: After premiering his comedy special Rothaniel and appearing on SNL, Carmichael found himself nominated for one of TV and film’s highest honors, the Emmy Awards.
The 35-year-old arrived at the 2022 Emmy Awards red carpet donned in an epic fur coat, bare chest, and plenty of confidence to match. All three made another appearance on stage, once Carmichael won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special.
“I wanted to win, I’m happy I won. Thank you very much,” he said on stage.
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Viewers were reminded of what can happen to those who come out and aren’t well-received in doing so. Still, as a Black queer man, he shined on stage, becoming a beacon for many other Black queer creatives. Living your truth comes with a cost, but as Carmichael found out, freedom is always worth it.
“I made something that was of great personal consequence to me and this definitely contributes to the meaning of it. I’m not a sore winner, but I’m going to go home because I can’t top this right now.”