Besides looking a little like Marvin Gaye on the cover of his new memoir, “Transparent,” CNN anchor Don Lemon has revealed some shocking news: He is 45 years old.
OK, that’s not really the news—although it is shocking because the weekend prime-time anchor looks to be a well-rested 25. The news is that Lemon is gay.
According to a “New York Times” profile, the newsman has always been up front with his colleagues but fears he will be cast as a stereotype. “People are going to say: ‘Oh, he was molested as a kid and now he is coming out.’ I get it,” says Lemon, who last September revealed that he had been the victim of a pedophile during an interview with three young supporters of Bishop Eddie Long.
Lemon says he was asked to write a typical African-American celeb-spirational tome: “You know: say your prayers; have a good, hearty handshake; say good morning to your boss.” But as the anchor who “abhors hypocrisy” wrote about his life, he realized he couldn’t hide something so integral.
For a black man, Lemon tells the Times, the risk of coming out is compounded by what he deems a higher level of homophobia in African-American communities:
“It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.
“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”
I have no beef with Lemon’s points about the rigidity of modern black masculinity, homophobia in the church, or the cliched single black female script that says “all the available brothers are in prison, unemployed, messing with white women or gay.”
I do wish the Times writer (or the piece’s editor) had shared more of Lemon’s thoughts about the relationship between homophobia and what the piece shorthanded as “the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans.”
After all, “praying gay away” is far from a black thang. For every ex-gay headline generator like Donnie McKlurkin and Caleb Brundidge, there are like 25 non-black ex-gay movement leaders such as minister Stephen Bennett, A. Dean Byrd, former president of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality; Abiding Truth Ministries’ Scott Lively, and Exodus International’s Don Schmierer. (In 2009, Lively and Schmierer—white guys—joined the above mentioned black guy Brundidge on that infamous anti-gay Uganda mission, which helped lay the groundwork for the country’s “Kill the Gays” bill still pending there.)