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Should CNN Have a Homo Host Its “Gay In America” Special?

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.


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  • Jack

    ‘…SDL, or same-gender loving.’

    Should that be SGL?

  • Jon

    I thought Don Lemon was out.

  • Josh

    Don Lemon is gay isn’t he??

  • Qjersey

    Many people like to distance themselves from the “G” word; it’s identity politics run wild.

    Doesn’t matter what you call yourself. If you are getting into bed with someone of the same sex you still have no rights, may be harassed, beaten or killed.

    Remember that “gay women” used to mean prostitute and the “fairies” that hung out with them soon got the label “gay” as well.

  • rrr

    Yes, Don Lemon is gay. He is glass closeted. He lives openly but never acknowledges his sexuality on air even when he is doing gay coverage (much like the other gay/lesbian CNN personalities). This was at its weirdest when Don had on the maker of the documentary Outrage and then had a panel discussion about whether and under what circumstances gay public figures should be outed .

  • Cornerframe

    Bring Thomas Roberts back. I’m sure he’d be proud to host the special.

  • David Ehrenstein

    That’s what so weird. Go “Google” Don Lemon and you’ll find out ot only htat he’s gay but white kind of white duded=s he fancies.

    But “publically” we’re not supoposed to know about that. Just like we’re not supposed to know about Anderson Cooper — whose relationahip with Julio Cesar Recio is going on 6 years bymy count.

  • Rick

    I would rather see a gay host for that series if they’re going to do it at all.

    Just like we’re not supposed to know about Anderson Cooper — whose relationahip with Julio Cesar Recio is going on 6 years bymy count.

    If by “relationship” you mean “friends”, then yeah, that could still be going on, but Anderson’s bf is Ben Maisani as the article in Queerty and other sites have stated.

  • mk

    At present it makes sense in a lot of ways to have Soledad host GIA like she did all the rest of the specials.

    I don’t see CNN as willing to bring in an outside journalist who is gay and out – they like to promote their own talent and keep things in house. I’ve never seen a CNN special that was not hosted by a CNN person. All the gay and lesbian CNN anchors and correspondents are not out publicly. If a closeted anchor or correspondent hosted the special they wouldn’t be providing their own personal insight anyway, they’d probably bend over backwards to show a lack of pro-gay bias, and it would likely be a huge distraction that would draw a lot of criticism and attention.

    Possibly it wouldn’t be such a distraction, though, since Anderson Cooper is the only one who most people know is gay and not formally out, and usually no one makes an issue about the rest of them. But would any of them want to risk getting the AC treatment by drawing attention to themselves by stepping up to host a special?

    The best thing would be if one of the CNN people took one for the team and came out and then did the special. Since they are already filming it apparently and no one is out, I would say that’s not going to happen unfortunately.

  • rrr

    Bring Thomas Roberts back. I’m sure he’d be proud to host the special.

    He’s definitely be available and it looks like he could sure use the work.

    He never expressly identified himself as gay when he was actually on air on CNN, did he? He didn’t talk about his orientation when he opened up about the sexual abuse he suffered from the priest. He did an interview with the Advocate after he’d left CNN and been let go from the Insider and he said in the interview he’d agreed to do a talk at a conference about being a gay broadcaster and hadn’t really anticipated it being reported on like it was (not that he was complaining about it).

  • Tommy

    This is political correctness gone way too far. I don’t see why a news report has to be hosted by someone who is gay because it is about gay people. I’m sure the special will include plenty of out gay people who will be interviewed in the special. The host is just supposed to be a narrator, not becoming part of the story.

    I never thought the reason Soledad O’Brien was hosting Black in America was because she was multiracial. I thought it was because she was a good reporter with an appealing personality. I didn’t know she was multiracial until later on. Just by looking at her, it’s not immediately apparent she’s multiracial, black and white. She could be hispanic, Italian etc. She’s not obviously multiracial as for example President Obama is.
    I don’t see color or sexual orientation when I look at someone. I see whether they are a good reporter and have a great personality.

  • YellowRanger

    Why is everyone so gung-ho to have Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper pop out of the closet live on air?

    Someone like Rachel Maddow can do that because she’s a commentator.

    Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, Shep Smith…They’re journalists. Reporters aren’t really supposed to bring their personal lives and opinions to work with them…

  • SteamPunk

    I don’t really care if a gay person hosts the documentary or not. Soledad did a really stand-up job with “Black in America” and “Latin in America”, so I have no reason to believe she couldn’t handle “Gay in America”. Also, heaven knows Anderson Cooper could probably take on almost anything you throw at him.

    “CNN Presents” is so awesome. I love these documentaries! (There was one about parents sex trafficking their children in Milan that I saw years ago that would blow your mind. Can’t think of the name of it, though.)

  • mk

    @ yellowranger

    Don Lemon, like lesbian CNN contributor Donna Brazile, injects his insight as a member of the black community into his reporting sometimes on racial matters, so I think there is an argument they should ideally do the same as members of the gay community in addressing gay issues. We can’t know if they would avoid identifying themselves that way while on air if race wasn’t an attribute so immediately obvious on the surface, though.

    Shep Smith is pretty even handed for FOX, but definitely brings his opinions to work with him sometimes. He is well known for occasionally ranting his opinions on matters other than gay issues. It sounds like FOX News expects even gays behind the cameras to beard if they want to get anywhere at the network, so I imagine for Shep coming out would mean moving on to another network.

  • Charles Merrill

    I hope it’s not Soledad. She loves the sensational dark side. She did a major program about Rev. Jim Jones reporting he had sex with young men at the camp.

  • PopSnap

    I was actually thinking this would be a good idea. Glad to see they’re doing it.

  • ibernard

    The graphics of GAY IN AMERICA are by my copyright and creation.


    Here is the entire series of photographic illustrations and the reasons why I decided to create the photo-illustrations.


    I love Soledad, but really: Black in America? SHE PASSES!
    I love Soledad, but really: Latino in America? SHE PASSES!!!

    I posted this CNN PRESENTS: GAY IN AMERICA on October 5. I also posted it on CNN’s own iReport site cited above.

    It’s not really in the pipeline, unless Don Lemon slipped on his “reverse oreo” tongue!


  • David Ehrenstein

    Ben Maisani eh? What’s the scoop?

    “Why is everyone so gung-ho to have Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper pop out of the closet live on air?”

    Because it would be so much more entertaining than the crap they have on now.

  • AlwaysGay

    I am very wary about this documentary. It’s unlikely heterosexuals will see anything positive about the documentary. Heterosexuals, their whole life is heterosexuality, that’s their only experience and they are always validated. There is a millennia long history of anti-gay oppression by heterosexuals. I’ll watch the documentary. I’m interested how they approach gay people’s lives.

    I think Reggie Aqui would do a great job.

  • Tom

    The main thing I hope for is an anchor for this proposed special who is smart enough to recognize lies when they are spoken and refute them on the spot. Any time something is done on the LGBT community, the producers feel they have to get some “expert” on LGBTs from the far right lunatic fringe who hates us, knows we chose to be the way we are, says we are less than human, deserve no human rights and need to give them money to get reprogrammed so we won’t go to hell. I want someone who will stop at nothing short of knocking them to the ground if they start that stuff.

  • rrr

    Ben Maisani eh? What’s the scoop?

    Gawker has been posting pretty heavily about it recently, so that’s the place to visit for the scoop.

    Gawker’s just playing catch up, though. It’s been well known online for months now AC and Maisani are an item. They’re always being spotted riding bikes together, eating out together or taking exotic vacations together. Maisani is a built french white guy who owns a NY gay bar. According to gossip they’ve been together about a year.

  • Keith Kimmel

    I think it should be hosted by a straight person. That way, we dont have to listen to more bullshit about how the gays, with thier gay agenda, are using thier gay friends in the liberal media to force the gay agenda on innocent school children, etc.

  • TimNCGuy

    I’m not suggesting with my comment that I think the program should or should not be handled by a LGBT journalist.

    But, anyone who thinks that CNN could ever have gotten away with a white journalist hosting either the black or latino “In America” programs is just fooling themself.

    O’Brien is already quoted in the article here that she was questioned as not being black enough to host “Black in America”.

    Just shows the double standard. Do you suppose any journalist who would host “Gay in America” would even be ASKED if the are gay let alone gay enough to host the program.

  • mk

    I think a lot of people seeing a well known person hosting a show called Gay in America will naturally wonder if that means the person is gay unless they have already established their orientation well, so I do think it is a question that would come up. I also think it would be good if an out CNN journalist hosted the show but there aren’t any there are just people who may not be “gay enough”. Wouldn’t the black community be conflicted about having someone who won’t publicly acknowledge they are black host a Black in America special?

    If there is a gay host it’s true they will be accused of hijacking the news with their gay agenda, just like I’ve seen people bitching about Soledad and other black or mixed people at CNN hijacking the news with their racial agenda.

  • *J_C*

    “”””it all depends in the way you intrepid scripture””””
    every time somebody decides to choose this story over that story,in the bible. A new religion is created. and they say were trying to make there religion our way, but the truth is that they make there own religion which ever way they want but when they disagree were the devil.

  • dpbfeb

    I think it would be interesting to have a person of color do the show. Doesn’t really matter who but at this point there has to be a bridge between the minority community (It’s not just Blacks who have anti-gay sentiments but pretty much Hispanics and Latinos have a lot of anti-gay sentiments).

    Even though I don’t think that Solad did a great job with Black in America or Latino in America I was impressed that she touched a little on the little secret of how there is a divide between Latino’s and Blacks. I would like to see someone really have the balls to talk about the racism in the mainstream Gay community. We’ve heard about the DL in the Black community but let’s talk about the fact that the Gay community have room for Blacks when they are the drag queens or the queeny friend. It’s uncomfortable but must be talked about. If more minority Gays spoke up, came out and demanded to have a seat at the White gay table and if White Gays admitted to the racism in the mainstream Gay community we would be a force to be reckoned with.

  • David Ehrenstein

    Just checked Maisani out. Hubba-Hubba! If he and Coop are indeed a couple does that mean he’s “Tired of the dark ones” and will shortly be “Famished for the blondes”?

  • ...

    When did Don Lemon “let it slip”? I watched the youtube posted here and didn’t notice anything to that effect.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    I had sex with Don Lemon! He’s such a big girl about the wet patch! Pussy-bitch!

  • Josh

    Anderson use to date Julio. They’ve been spotted together since 2006 and Anderson even dedicated his first book to him and paps even caught Anderson and Julio vacationing together last Christmas.

    But shortly after that Anderson was with this Benjamin guy and they remain together currently. They have been on vacation in India.

  • allstarecho

    Ummm, so is it going to be about “Gay in America” or “Gay and Black in America”?

  • mk

    You know, I watched the clip again and I’m having my doubts now that there is going to be any special. Don Lemon said he was researching something for “our gay in America SERIES” not “CNN’s gay in America SPECIAL”. CNN anchors call it a series all the time when they do a short segment on the same subject on each episode of their normal show for a period of time, often the period is a week if it is a daily show.

    I haven’t been watching Don’s show lately, has he been doing a series of segments on being gay in America?

  • me

    REGGIE AQUI IS GAY? FFFFFFFFFFFFFF i’ve been crushing on him for years. this is spectacular news!

  • Rick

    If he and Coop are indeed a couple does that mean he’s “Tired of the dark ones”

    I think Anderson’s dark days are over.

  • rrr

    The new boyfriend is a foreigner with dark hair and eyes. It’s not like AC is suddenly all about fair haired all American boys.

  • The Artist

    Does it really matter who does the reporting? Keep it real! PEACELUBNBWILD!

  • elsa

    gay’s have told themselves they are normal for so long that they are now living in a fantasy world. Normal is having your own children the way God intended. He would have made a way for them to have their own children In the scriptures there was a reason for some women to be barren. Marriage between male and female is normal. God destroyed two cities with fire and brimstone because of the homosexuals. God loves everyone but He hates their sin. If you ask forgiveness He forgives but you can’t continue living that life style after forgiveness. The sinner will stand before the Great White Throne Judgement one day pleading for mercy but it will be too late. On earth is where you straighten out your life with God. The Christian will stand before the Mercy Seat of Christ and be judged for things we didn’t do in Jesus’s name and for His sake and where we failed to warn unbelievers what will happen to them and after death what they will be facing. The Christian will have a clean white robe to be given to us. One group with be cast into Hell and the other group will go to Heaven. Two choices, two ways to live for Satan or God. No in between.

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