Oh you know we love talking about closeted black men. Thanks to stringent religious undertones and machismo in large parts of America’s black communities, African-America men who sleep with other dudes sometimes get their own sexual identity: SGL, or same-gender loving. Even the word “gay” is too gay! But that’s not why this weekend CNN segment is interesting: It’s because anchor Don Lemon revealed CNN is planning a “Gay In America” segment.
After ratings bonanzas with “Black In America” (which has aired twice) and “Latino In America,” it only makes sense for CNN to capitalize on another demographic: the Gs.
A petition launched in August has more than 800 signatures, urging CNN to create a special. And now, it appears CNN is doing just that: Lemon let slip that he’s working on programming for the special, and we hear there have been meetings about the special going back at least a few months.
So now that we know the special is a go, who will host the thing?
With “Black In America,” many believed CNN chose Soledad O’Brien to host because she is multiracial (her father is Australian-Irish; her mother is Afro-Cuban); though she was met with her fair share of criticism for not being “black enough.” O’Brien also hosted “Latino In America.” But she’s shrugging off critics: “The difficult part for me was that there were people who said ‘Is she black enough to do these stories?’ When [CNN chief international correspondent] Christiane Amanpour goes to Beijing, nobody says she’s not Chinese enough to do those stories. That’s an interesting element of our community, but on the other hand they’re valid questions.”
So will O’Brien host “Gay In America”? We’re not certain, but all signs point to yes. We couldn’t find any official release from CNN about the special, though we did reach out to O’Brien and CNN’s publicity department to check. (We’ll let you know what we hear.) UPDATE: O’Brien responds that she’s on vacation, and can’t confirm anything because she hasn’t lined up any of her 2010 documentaries.
But is it crucial that a LGBT person host the special? After all, a reporter is a reporter is a reporter. But also, who could CNN turn to? We hear neither Anderson Cooper nor Reggie Aqui (despite this graphic) have been approached to host, and most folks we talked to at the network indicated O’Brien, who is straight, would get the gig.