CNN weekend news anchor Don Lemon became the talk of Twitter timelines yesterday after sharing the link to a New York Times story in which he publically came out and admitted he was gay.
This revelation came as a result of Lemon’s new book, Transparent, in which he writes openly and honestly about his life and career.
Last year during the Bishop Eddie Long scandal, Lemon—who is more comfortable reporting news than making it—revealed that he was molested as a child. While these things—Lemon’s childhood molestation and his sexuality—are not connected, Lemon knows that some will say his homosexuality happened as a result of being molested.
“People are going to say: ‘Oh, he was molested as a kid and now he is coming out.’ I get it,” he told the New York Times.
Although Lemon was open about his sexuality to his family, friends, and many of his coworkers, he was worried about coming out in public because of the negative views some, especially African Americans, still hold about homosexuality.
The NY Times writes:
“I’m scared,” Lemon said in a telephone interview. “I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.”
Even beyond whatever effect his revelation might have on his television career, Mr. Lemon said he recognized this step carried special risk for him as a black man.
“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.”
For all of our progressiveness, homophobia is still a very divisive issue in the Black community. Just last week a student of mine (who is not gay) complimented a male teacher on his outfit, and the teacher immediately scolded the teen, telling him it is never ok to compliment a man on his outfit. This man—a teacher no less—once again reinforced the idea that men, and specifically Black men, cannot be affectionate or give props to one another without having their sexuality called into question.
While I understand that the majority of many African-Americans are religious, which informs our stance on issues such as homosexuality, many of us shun our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters when we should be embracing them with open arms.