Don Lemon on Colorism and Black Homophobia

The CNN anchor talks to The Root about coming out in the news industry as a black, gay man, and responds to claims that the industry prefers light skinned anchors.

By Asraa Mustufa Jun 29, 2011

Since coming out last month, CNN weekend prime-time anchor Don Lemon continues to speak frankly about being gay and black in broadcast journalism.

In an interview with The Root, Lemon was asked about colorism, or bias according to skin color, in network news, a topic he discussed in his memoir "Transparent"- particularly if it exists at CNN.

"Well, I do have eyes, and I do see that a lot of the anchors of color on television are light-skinned — not all of them — but a number of them are," Lemon said. "You will have to ask the people who hire the anchors that because I don’t know that. When I look around the entire television landscape, I do see — I don’t know if it’s lighting, I don’t know if it’s makeup — there are many anchors of a lighter hue. I don’t know where that comes from. I think that is part of our society. [But] there are some beautiful brown-skinned brothers and sisters on television."

Lemon encouraged CNN viewers to ask the network about the rumor that they have a "brown-paper-bag test" for anchors’ complexions. He also encouraged the black community to stand with the fight for LGBT rights, instead of harboring homophobia, "Black people know what it’s like to be discriminated against. I wish that we would take the lead in supporting people who have been discriminated against rather than discriminating against them more. That’s really my personal wish for the black community."

The news anchor reported that he feels free and happy since coming out publicly, and that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Check out the whole interview over at The Root.