WATCH: Don Lemon Explains Why It’s Still Important For Public Figures To Come Out

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.’”

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  • Kieran

    People who say “who cares?” or “why is this news?” are just assholes. When America is free of the stench of homophobia, then and only then will it stop being newsworthy when people in the public eye come out. Give us more gay representatives like Don Lemon who are out, proud and VISIBLE and we can change the way America views gay men.

  • redspyder

    What a ridiculous story this is… Don Lemon, who was closeted for years and finally chose to come out (key word: CHOSE) now disagrees with the view that “famous people should be able to maintain some semblance of privacy with their personal lives”.

    Everyone has the right to privacy, and no one who is famous should have to open their entire life up to the world just because they are famous. Are they likely to receive more interest and/or speculation? Yes. Are their lives going to be under more scrutiny? Definitely. In light of that, are they still entitled to privacy? Absolutely. Just because you’re famous, it doesn’t give the public the right to know every aspect of your life. You should anticipate their interest, but you don’t owe anyone anything.

    Of course its no surprise that Don Lemon feels this way. He made it perfectly clear that he thinks he’s owed something by his twitter feud with Jonah Hill. Just because Don wanted to stop and talk, he felt Jonah Hill owed it to him to comply. When he didn’t, it was rude and unacceptable. What Don wants, Don expects to get. Being out, proud and visible doesn’t make him any less of an arrogant ass.

  • kernelt

    Agree. Like the issue of race and gender inequality, the process for full equality must constantly brought forth by voicing discrimination whenever it is and celebrating justice wherever it is. To put in the forth front the issue of inequality and the visual of those who is affected by it, because if we ignore the issue while it is still relevant, the problem will prevail and as a society we are perpetuating the problem further. Only when true equality reign can we be color blind, gender neutral, and sexuality indifferent.

  • jonjct

    nobody cares what you have to say Don. you are a D list bitc* and you always will be. :)

  • Renee C. Boydston

    my bf’s uncle just got an awesome year old Hyundai Veracruz SUV only from part time off a computer. learn this here now,…

  • AuntieChrist

    @redspyder: @jonjct: I think you girls are missing the point…Public figures do more for our community by coming out…I think my life would have been different growing up if I had positive role models, Anderson Cooper,Dan Savage…Young gays and future gays will benefit from their visibility.

  • KDub

    Typical closet status snobbery. Don was in the closet for years and is now gonna get up on his NEWLY out soapbox and preach to others about what they should do with their lives and “the correct way to be gay”. As if he couldn’t get anymore irritating. Guess what guys, no one owes you a better life! Come out for YOURSELF to make YOUR life better, but stop thinking the next guy owes you something through the way he chooses to live his life just because you’re both gay.

  • AuntieChrist

    @KDub: Sorry but what you said makes no sense, you sound like you have some anger issues…Nothing about what this man said or the way he said it suggests anything other than a sincere perspective on coming out.

  • KDub

    @AuntieChrist: Sorry but did you even read the article (all the way through)? Lemon’s being pretentious in his typical melodramtic fashion. He loves talking about what other people should do, ironically much like Phil Robertson. This isn’t much different from Robertson’s random pro-life speeches. If Don wanted to come out (at 45) to be a gay platform then great for him, but being a celebrity doesn’t mean you have to take on some silly responsibility to make your personal life available to total strangers. I’m truly surprised he didn’t try to speak for Robin Roberts or any other recently out celebs. Lol

  • AuntieChrist

    @KDub: I read the article and watched the video…I came out at 15 but I can understand why some people are late bloomers…He is a journalist and African American and my black friends say it is even harder for them coming out, they get a double whammy not only from their own but from other gays as well…I guess you have a point but I still think it helps young gays and our community whenever someone comes out.

  • KDub

    @AuntieChrist: And you actually bought that woe is me spiel? You know who else coming out is hard for? Everyone! Race card: Declined. Sorry but your friends seem just as melodramatic as Lemon. Bottom line is none of us have a responsibility to anyone but ourselves when it comes to how open we choose to be, whether coming out or anything else. Celebrity or average Joe doesn’t even matter. Having a fairly good knowledge of many of his past criticisms (disguised as activism), Don’s statement just reads as “all gay celebs need to do as I did.”

  • Black Pegasus

    I guess some of you chose not to watch the video or pay attention. Instead you couldn’t wait to spill your vitriol. Don said he was OUT to his family and coworkers in his 20s, but came out PUBLICLY in his 40s. That equates to almost 20yrs of his family and coworkers knowing about his sexuality. How you all managed to pull “snobbery and arrogance” out of that is beyond my comprehension.
    Mr. Lemon is right; coming out helps us all in ways we can’t always define.

    “Empowerment replaces Fear”

  • CCTR

    @KDub: “Still” is the key adverb here. I hope you re-read or watch the video again with that in mind. You are missing the point, and spewing anger for no reason.

    In the event that you still don’t understand, Mr. Lemon is stating his opinion that it remains important to continue to celebrate and allow public figures a platform to come out publicly. He is responding to the critics that feel that LGBTQ people should keep their sexual orientation private, critics that take the “OK don’t shove your sexual orientation in our face” attitude, critics that feel that coming out publicly has become cliche and has no value anymore in these times where there is more LGBTQ visibility in the media and some victories in equal marriage rights.

    He is nothing but sympathetic towards public figures who are not out publicly. His statements show a suggestion that he feels coming out publicly has an empowering effect. He feels they deserve the attention and opportunity to do so if they desire and if they do come out publicly it should be celebrated and a sense of importance placed on their decision.

  • CCTR

    @jonjct: nobody cares what you have to say Don. you are a D list bitc* and you always will be. :)

    I think he is on CNN because millions of people care what he has to say, if he is a D list bitc*, that makes you…?

  • CCTR

    @redspyder: Spewing anger for no reason, read the entire short article, watch the entire short video, and then take a moment to comprehend. Some people have hate and anger as an automatic response. Take a moment to find some empathy and understanding.

  • Darlene D. Thies

    like Theresa implied I am inspired that a student able to earn $4254 in 1 month on the computer. hop over to here…

  • sportyguy1983

    I don’t care that he is gay and I don’t care that his colleagues are straight. I don’t care about public figures private/personal lives (whether straight or gay). I groan when public figures start talking about their personal lives. Who cares

  • AuntieChrist

    @sportyguy1983: What an ass you are…Climb back in your closet you stupid dick.

  • KDub

    @CCTR: TL:DR

  • KDub

    @Black Pegasus: You guess wrong, but at least you admitted the reponses were beyond your comprehension. He’s not just talking about mom and dad. He’s saying gay celebrities have a responsibility to broadcast something very personal to the world. All this coming from a gay TV personality who was on TV for over 10 years before he decided he wanted to publicly come out. Now it seems he’s appointed himself ambassador of the celebrity out committee? Please.

  • sportsguy1983

    @auntichrist Going down to your level: Takes one to know one.

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