Don Lemon is probably my favorite CNN anchor. You can have your Anderson Coopers and Wolf Blitzers, but there’s something about Lemon’s presence that I find invariably soothing, particularly when reporting on news that makes me want to bash my head into the wall, which face it, is most news these days. He’s charming. He’s genuine.
Don Lemon also proved himself to be unequivocally badass last year when interviewing the frustratingly steadfast supporters of accused pedophile Bishop Eddie Long. Much to CNN’s surprise, Lemon confessed on air that he too had been a victim of pedophilia and that the techniques described by Long’s victims rang very true to him.
A couple of years ago, Lemon appeared on a panel called “The Black Man in the Age of Obama,” at which a publisher approached him about writing an “inspirational book.” It was supposed to be a “little pamphlet” but once Lemon started writing, he found himself writing about his personal life, like his struggles with racism and colorism, growing up without a father and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
In Transparent, the 45-year old anchor talks for the first time publicly about being gay. Don Lemon is gay!
Like Rick Welts, the Phoenix Suns owner who came out this weekend, most of Lemon’s colleagues knew about his sexual orientation but he’d kept it a secret from the rest of the world.
“People are going to say: ‘Oh, he was molested as a kid and now he is coming out’, I get it,” Lemon told The New York Times. “I’m scared. I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.”
After turning in the manuscript for his book to the publishers, Lemon freaked out and said he wanted to take all the personal stuff out. Then he decided against it: “I abhor hypocrisy. I think if you’re going to be in the business of news, and telling people the truth, of trying to shed light in dark places, then you’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to have the same rules for yourself as you do for everyone else.”
Lemon grew up in Louisiana and his Emmy-Award-winning career started in New York City, where the Brooklyn College undergrad worked as a news assistant for WNYW. Lemon moved on to become the co-anchor for Chicago’s NBC5’s 5pm news. Subsequent stints included correspondent work at The Today Show, NBC News and NBC Nightly News. Lemon joined the team at CNN in August 2003. He seems to have not aged since that point.
CNN is supportive of his coming out and he’ll appear on Joy Behar’s show on HLN and on CNN Newsroom today (as a guest).
About the importance of coming out, Lemon says:
“I think it would be great if everybody could be out. But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world… I think if I had seen more people like me who are out and proud, it wouldn’t have taken me 45 years to say it, to walk in the truth.”
In the preview of Transparent available on Amazon.com, Lemon dedicates the book to Tyler Clementi, writing:
“I believe that now is the time for all of us to acknowledge, once and for all, that God made some of us straight and some of us gay. I believe that now is the time for all of us to take a stand against the heinous behavior that far too many young people battle on a daily basis simply because of their sexual orientation.”
It seems to be going well so far: