Former Chicago NBC Anchor Don Lemon is, arguably, changing the game. Now, a CNN anchor, Don Lemon recently posted a Twitter link to a New York Times article
announcing his new book, Transparent, in stores on June 16, in which the
anchorman reveals that he is gay. Lemon will become one of three openly
gay anchors on network news along with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Thomas
Lemon shared his very personal decision to disclose his sexuality and why it took him so long during an interview with The New York Times.
"I'm scared," he said in a telephone interview with the New York Times. "I'm talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for."
Mr. Lemon has not made a secret of his sexual orientation in his work
life; many of his CNN co-workers and managers have long been aware that
he is gay. But he still acknowledged that going public in his book
carries certain risks.
It's really awesome that he's been getting positive feedback throughout the LGBT community, and especially
in the black LGBT community.
Because of Lemon's prominence as a TV news anchor, "Transparent" will undoubtedly reach a wide audience of readers from all backgrounds. But it
will take on special meaning in the black community.
I recently did a blog about whether news anchor should be transparent about their sexuality. I voted "no" because I felt that it would take away from the news or people's stories - stories we're there to tell. But, in this case, I'm having second thoughts. This situation is different because Don Lemon's coming out opens a long-overdue dialogue that could potential shake up homophobia in the black community. With this public announcement, he is probably the most high
profile "mainstream" black gay man, and journalist, alive today, and this simple act of
courage can, and will, help redefine how society sees black gay men. It's actually quite emotional. Seeing this type of courage will help encourage other gay black men or gays to be honest with their friends and family. To me, this basically says, you no longer have to be scared.
I first met Don about 6 years ago here in Chicago when I was a reporter for N'Digo
Magapaper. I was asked to write a coverstory on the, then, NBC Anchor. He had
just been asked to be apart of the CNN family, and he was planning to
leave NBC and Chicago. When I met him, I remember being enamored by his
confidence, compassion and blatant frankness. Throughout the interview, he was really honest about his career and what journalism meant to him - it was quite admirable. Although, I never asked him if he
was gay - because, I kind of knew at the time - we shared a special
connection and I looked up to him as one of my journalism mentors. I'll never
forget what he told me once we finished the interview, "Lenox, listen, journalism
is tough... but you're tougher!" It sticks with me to this day.
And, he's proving to be pretty damn tough himself.
Well done, Don Lemon! You continue to inspire this young journalist to do great things...