We’ve all heard and/or read it. Every single time an athlete or celebrity or any one in the public eye comes out as gay, someone will weigh in with a well-meaning “who cares?” or “why is this still important?” Many Queerty commenters counter that the famous people should be able to maintain some semblance of privacy with their personal lives. CNN anchor Dom Lemon, who came out as a gay man in 2011, respectfully disagrees, saying he knows many people who live double lives, because they’re afraid of being judged or of hurting someone they love. Lemon also notes that some may fear losing employment opportunities due to still-persistent homophobia.
“I can’t speak for Robin Roberts, nor any of my recently out gay colleagues, I didn’t do it sooner because I was afraid of losing my livelihood,” he says. “I was afraid that you would no longer watch me. I was afraid of people like Phil Robertson, who claim to love everyone while simultaneously thinking that everyone’s love isn’t equal. The people who use religion and scripture to shield bigotry now toward gays and in the past toward women and African-Americans. Hopefully for Robin, like me, empowerment quickly replaced fear once I did come out. And if people like Phil Robertson are deserving of keeping their platforms and are even defended and celebrated, then people like Don Lemon, or Thomas Roberts, or Rachel Maddow, or Sam Champion, or Anderson Cooper, or Robin Roberts are also deserving of their platforms and should be celebrated as well. That’s why it’s still important to come out and say very simply, ‘I’m gay.'”