Early Monday morning Don Lemon issued a personally written statement to the media, announcing that he is gay. The CNN news anchor told the New York Times, "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."
Coming out was made even more difficult for Don Lemon, who explains, "It's quite different for an African-American male. 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."
"You're afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women," Don went on. "I guess this makes me a double minority now."
"I think it would be great if everybody could be out," Don said. "But it's such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that."
The following is the full statement from Don Lemon:
"Today I chose to step out on faith and begin openly living my own truth. And let me say right up front that I hope many of you will be inspired to do the same thing in your daily lives. Some of the things I've chosen to reveal in my book Transparent were very difficult to share with even those closest to me.
There was a time when I was terrified of revealing these things to the person I love most in this world -- my own mother. But when I finally mustered the courage to tell her that I had been molested as a child and that I was born gay, my life began to change in positive ways that I never imagined possible. Yet I still chose to keep those secrets hidden from the world. I, like most gay people, lived a life of fear. Fear that if some employers, co-workers, friends, neighbors and family members learned of my sexuality, I would be shunned, mocked and ostracized. It is a burden that millions of people carry with them every single day. And sadly, while the mockery and ostracizing are realized by millions of people every day, I truly believe it doesn't have to happen and that's why I feel compelled to share what I've written in Transparent.
As a journalist I believe that part of my mission is to shed light onto dark places. So, the disclosure of this information does not inhibit in any way my ability to be the professional, fair and objective journalist I have always been.
My book is dedicated to the memory of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from a bridge after his dorm mates streamed his private business over the Internet for the world to see. Tyler might still be with us today if more gay men and women had chosen to live proudly and openly. It is also dedicated to the millions of young, gay people who believe they are alone when dealing with their own sexual identities. You are not alone! There are people, like me and many others, who are thriving in their personal and professional lives and although we sometimes have a hard time with it ourselves, we are here to show you by example that you too can overcome any obstacle as long as you stay strong and, most of all, stay alive."
With love and honesty,
May 16, 2011