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Interview with Don Lemon, CNN anchor, for book signing at Outwrite June 22

CREDIT: CNN

CREDIT: CNN

CNN anchor/reporter Don Lemon, who lives in Virginia Highland, spent weeks wondering whether he should come out as a gay man in his book “Transparent.”

He had it in his original transcript but had the option of taking it out. Then last fall, Tyler Clementi, a closeted gay college student, killed himself after a roommate posted online a sexual encounter he had with a man.

That sealed it for Lemon: “I left it in there.”

Response, he said, has been “99.9 percent” positive and he feels happier than he ever has: “I’m lighter and freer. It makes me better on air. I’m not trying to hide anything.”

Now friends jokingly say, “You’re Don Lemon: gay icon!”

Meet him at Outwrite Books, the gay bookstore in Midtown, Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. where he’ll sign his book for you.

He said he was never in the closet. He just never talked about it publicly. But he realizes now that “there are so few people who are out in broadcast news journalism. And if you break it out to African Americans, it’s even fewer. I don’t even know any.”

“I write about it in the book matter of factly,” he added. “It’s important to do that. For that, it doesn’t have to be an announcement. The more people come out, we should celebrate it. It makes it normal. I want it to be normal.”

Lemon, 45, who has been with CNN for five years as a weekend anchor and weekday reporter, was approached a couple of years ago by publisher Farrah Gray to write a book after Gray saw him at a panel about black men in the age of Obama. Lemon said no. Then he changed his mind. “I was doing the same thing people do to me when they want me out of their face and aren’t interested,” he said. “Okay, fine. I’ll do it.”

When he began writing it, he thought, “We don’t need another book like this.” But once he got through his childhood near Baton Rouge, he felt more comfortable. And he had a bombshell in the book, which he ended up inadvertently revealing on air last fall.

While talking about the Bishop Eddie Long case, a guest said Long didn’t look like a pedophile. That’s when Lemon said that he had been abused as a child. That created a bit of a media storm because as an on-air anchor, revealing such a major revelation was highly unusual. Lemon said he felt it was relevant to the discussion at the time.

Coincidentally, Oprah Winfrey was seeking men who had been abused to show up in an episode and her producers asked him to be part of it. Lemon debated going to Chicago but in the end decided not to “I didn’t want it to appear as if I were capitalizing on that moment,” he said.  But he did talk to Tyler Perry, who also had been physically abused as a child.

“Tyler was very apprehensive about it,” he said. “In some way, I encouraged him to do it. He asked me about the support I’ve had and I said it’s been overwhelmingly positive. He decided to do the show.”

While Lemon’s book is titled “Transparent,” he didn’t talk about his personal relationships, including his current boyfriend. “He wasn’t ready for it,” Lemon said. “I haven’t been afraid to talk about it. I didn’t leave it out because I’m ashamed or I didn’t want people to know about it. If I were writing the book now, I’d probably include him.”

At CNN, he enjoys the mix of work he gets to do, including anchoring, reporting and long-form documentary work. In the book, the self-proclaimed “workaholic” expressed pride about his 2009 Michael Jackson coverage, which was helped by his connections to people like Rev. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson.

Down the road, he’d love to be a new version of Oprah. “Who wouldn’t want to have that power and freedom?” he said.

BOOK SIGNING
Don Lemon, “Transparent.”
Free
Outwrite Books
, 7:30 p.m., June 22, 2011


Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

56 comments Add your comment

Jennifer

June 21st, 2011
11:43 am

Good for Don, great guy and journalist, who the heck cares about his sexual preferences.

SMH

June 21st, 2011
11:51 am

I could care less about the fact that he is gay. I love watching him on CNN. He’s genuine!

Bruce Bandit

June 21st, 2011
12:27 pm

I love that he is OUT and comfortable with his true self…now Anderson….

CJ

June 21st, 2011
12:37 pm

Good for him! Someone Atlanta can be proud of.

pw

June 21st, 2011
12:42 pm

I’m happy that the weight has been lifted from his heart and look forward to more of his thoughtful and intelligent reporting.

April

June 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

Am I understanding this correctly, that Don Lemon and Tyler Perry were sexually molested as children by men? Is that the reason these guys are gay today? Just trying to get an understanding here. Was Eddie Long also sexually molested as a child? What about Jim Earl Swilley? Why would a grown man do such a horrible thing to a child?

ABC

June 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

Good for you, Don. Glad you are out and proud…now if you can get your colleague Mr. Cooper to do the same…

Patrick

June 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

Don Lemon is always pleasant and polite to his guests on CNN. He is smart, well-spoken and a true professional. Go Don!

Will

June 21st, 2011
1:03 pm

He is an excellent journalist/broadcaster, I enjoy him on CNN. Who cares what he does behind closed doors. Mind ya bizness people.

Dee

June 21st, 2011
1:03 pm

Who is Don Lemon? Maybe Donna Lemon is who the article is referring to. Yuck…………..

Kat

June 21st, 2011
1:05 pm

@SMH: You mean that you “couldn’t care less”

Mitzymy

June 21st, 2011
1:05 pm

I love Don, and I am glad that he is out of the closet. I never knew that he was gay because he wears a wedding band, and I used to think how lucky his wife was to have him. He explained last week that the wedding band was his grandfathers. I still love him and think he is so cute. He treats people with respect and doesn’t try to talk over them to get his point across. He is a real professional. I’m glad you didn’t get fired.

Will

June 21st, 2011
1:11 pm

Does anybody proof-read their copy before they publish it? “Down the road, he’d love to do be a new version of Oprah. “Who wouldn’t want to have that power and freedom?” he said.”

james

June 21st, 2011
1:12 pm

He should make the jump to Fox News, like many other CNN correspondents have done. The diversity (I mean, other than diversity of pretty women -mostly blond) he would bring to FNC would be refreshing. Besides, he would probably make a lot more money with them and it goes without saying he would be seen by five times as many viewers!

Lois Lane

June 21st, 2011
1:25 pm

As Warren Ballentine always says ” He’s America’s Anchorman” I love Don Lemon

mechelle

June 21st, 2011
1:29 pm

damn….what a shame…such a GREAT LOOKING MAN….another one bites the dust….nothing against gay men…just REALLY hard to tell now a days ladies…good look dating in Atlanta

Larry15

June 21st, 2011
1:37 pm

The more people come out, we should celebrate it. It makes it normal. I want it to be normal.”
LOL THE WHOLE POINT IT”S NOT NORMAL, an as a educated black man how can he not see it.

worm

June 21st, 2011
1:47 pm

I’m sorry for you Don..On the other hand, Atlanta is loaded with black men.

Michele H.

June 21st, 2011
1:49 pm

Dr Mr Lemon,

I am so proud of you! I saw you speak about being a “gay male” on The Wendy Williams Show and The Monique Show. You are an intelligent, fun, handsome man, with a stellar character. I’m elated that you believe and know that you have nothing to be ashamed of! Your life work has helped you to empower self and others and “coming out” is an on-going example of your strength and determination – in regard to not allowing your negative experiences (”child abuse”) or others define you … good for you! Like they say Mr Lemon, “:WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE!” CHEERS!

La Toya In Absentia

June 21st, 2011
1:52 pm

“LOL THE WHOLE POINT IT”S NOT NORMAL”

Pal, you talk like a fool! And I say that with all the Christian kindness I can muster for the likes of you.

Oh, by the way “an as a educated”? And you have the nerve to talk about someone else being educated! How many times did you fail English 101?

RA

June 21st, 2011
2:02 pm

He seems like a genuine, great guy. I find it funny that people hate that people “come out” publicly and yet tell them they need to keep that behind closed doors. People would not feel the need to announce that they are gay if people would not treat them like they have something to be ashamed of. The more who come out, the more normal it will be and the less we will hear of public announcements.

Sonia

June 21st, 2011
2:02 pm

A sin is a sin. THere is no small one or big one. God still loves that person, but not the sin.. I think signs of the times are coming to past… •Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”1
•Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”
•1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is the word..

Crumpy yum yums

June 21st, 2011
2:08 pm

I bet Rodney LOVED covering this story

bigcrimson75

June 21st, 2011
2:09 pm

Consulting Tyler Perry —- I knew it!!!!!!

JT

June 21st, 2011
2:10 pm

@ Sonia….Coming from someone who was raised in the church, you are the very reason I stopped attending. People get so sick and tired of Bible quotes!

Patrick

June 21st, 2011
2:12 pm

Sonia, doesn’t the bible also say a little bit about not judging others? How about letting those without sin throwoing the first stone? Sounds like you not following your own rules.

[...] Interview with Don Lemon, CNN anchor, for book signing at Outwrite June 22 – Atlanta Journal C… [...]

Larry15

June 21st, 2011
2:22 pm

I love black people and black culture as a whole, but just for a minute does anyone feel this is destroying are black culture as a whole. just a question in general?

Dee

June 21st, 2011
2:23 pm

To JT:

You didn’t stop attending church because of people. You stopped attending because you chose to stop. Stop making excuses for your actions!!!!!!!!!!!! You are an adult who lives in AMERICA!!!!!!!

Boca Baby

June 21st, 2011
2:34 pm

I will choose not to cast my pearls before swine. I’ll just say that the God who is there will require every human being to give an account for his life. And the God who is there has moral standards. You can call it myth. You can call it outdated. You can call it irrelevant. But, in the end, the nightmare you will awaken to is reality. And there will be no place to run and no place to hide. And tragically there will be no remedy.

Pebblebeach

June 21st, 2011
2:37 pm

who cares about his sexual preference…he does an extremely good job on CNN and that is enough for me…

Ezra

June 21st, 2011
2:37 pm

What did you expect! CNN and the AJC have been promoting homosexuals for a while. They all knew how many gays were on the payroll. Instead of it costing them for hiring abnormal behavior they now want cash in on it. Typical liberals–if it is vile and disgusting they are for it.

Ezra

June 21st, 2011
2:39 pm

JT

June 21st, 2011
2:10 pm
Yeah God’s word is a kind of stick in the craw huh!

Q

June 21st, 2011
2:42 pm

Yes April, you are correct. Unfortunately, a very large number of Gay or Bi-Sexual males were molested as a youth. It is a horrible disgusting tragedy that happens everyday. The bi product is a society of men who have a difficult time relating to women sexually. It’s alot like Sodom and Gomorrah in the bible (read the account and it will all make sense). It’s not an excuse, you end up desiring who you desire. Some men (nor women) will never become gay because they were molested. People do need to talk about their abusive childhood before marriage. It helps women detect more guys who are down for DL activity.

Reg

June 21st, 2011
2:46 pm

You are a great man, Mr. Lemon! That is the key, man! Sexual orientation shouldn’t make a difference to no one but the individual. Keep up the good work, from your comrade; same age, same race, and individual!

The Bruhs

June 21st, 2011
2:46 pm

BE OUT, BRUH!!!

Hittman65

June 21st, 2011
2:48 pm

We love you Don !!!!
Dee and Sonia…Two old ignorant bible thumpers who need to learn how to spell………Yuck !!!!

God's Girl

June 21st, 2011
2:57 pm

WAY TO GO SONIA! You quoted it all. JT, take the blinders off. I feel sorry for you. If you go back to church, maybe you will be the example of the one non-judgemental person there. People who practice a lifestyle of sin just love to fall back on judge not least you be judged. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so sad.

roosemary davis

June 21st, 2011
3:00 pm

I just want to thank you Mr.Lemon for taking the time to write your beautiful black Sisters a letter Via Essence Magazine since today some feel that we are ugly you on the other hand think that we are in deed beautiful people.I must say that you are in deed handsome and the epitomy of a strong black man with a warm heart,kind and with deep compassion.I want ever forget the interview that you did in Chicago with a Mother whose son had been tradically beaten to death the love and compassion that you showed this Mother can not be expressed in words so keep up the good work and my plan is to still watch you every weekend and some week days when Brooke is not there above all and without exception of the afore mention you are an excellent Journalist.

Just be straight up, if not straight.

June 21st, 2011
3:03 pm

Don Lemon is a great new anchor; he does a great job. But the frequency of all these men being gay has become a major issue, especially in the black community and it is likely not all biology. Most of these folks–guys or gals–weren’t born that way based on them mostly reporting some form of sexual abuse as a reason why they float that way. It’s nurture, not nature in most cases.

Ironically, Don Lemon is mentioned a few times re: colorism and other issues he spoke about in the pages of Living Well Despite Catching Hell, a book for black women’s health, which mentions the growing loss of straight black men in our community, in the church and this society. Folks need to be what they are and not try to fool people or be on the down-low. But neither do I feel everyone needs to broadcast (no pun intended) who or what they choose to sleep with. (PS: Not suprised DL talked to TP).

Barney Frank

June 21st, 2011
3:08 pm

When will Stedman Graham come out of Oprah’s shoe closet ?

hoodtechie

June 21st, 2011
3:19 pm

Don Lemon on a scale of 1 to 10 as an anchor rates a 5 at best. I’m sorry you were abused as a child but somehow think that you coming out living a twisted pervertive lifestyle do not add points to your ratings as an anchor. If you are gay you should have kept it to yourself and those involved, no one wants to know your sexual preference. Just don’t expect or demand that everyone accept it, those actions are not natural, believe me. Maybe one day you will see the light and seek companionship with a female and pursue a true relationship that is more natural and accepted.

Hittman65

June 21st, 2011
3:21 pm

@ God’s Girl…religion only exists in your mind. You have been played by the oldest con game around. Church people are usually dumb and uneducated. I think you serve as a good example of both. lol Stupid Christians !!!

Hittman65

June 21st, 2011
3:22 pm

@ Hoodtechie…..back to the hood….Troll !!!!

Roz

June 21st, 2011
3:29 pm

I’m sorry, but who in their right mind ever thought this man was straight? This is like Elton John coming out. He is trying to sell more than 2 copies of this pathetic book. When a grown man in the south wears UGH boots and has super plucked eyebrows, you were OUT the second you moved here. What a joke.

Shequitta Jackson-Lee

June 21st, 2011
3:47 pm

Don needs to spend some quality time in the arms of an African princess …

Nat Turner

June 21st, 2011
4:05 pm

No, Larry, that is not what is destroying black culture as a whole. It is the rampant violence, the disrespect for education and women, the angry black women that are keeping it real by talking trash to their man, criticizing him, and so forth.

cjspeaksfreely

June 21st, 2011
4:15 pm

Andy Warhol said everyone will be famous for 15 min…. I am tired of people coming out and claiming to have done it for the individuals who suffer in silence. So what you came out, do you want a cookie for your effort? Don Lemon and his coming out episode was nothing but a avenue for fame and more dollars in the bank! I have read the book and honestly speaking, I am still trying to find my receipt to check for the refund policy! Don… the new version of Oprah? Have you lost your mind?

Boca Baby

June 21st, 2011
4:16 pm

Hittman65: Time magazine made similar statements about Christian a few years ago and subsequently had to retract its position as they were overwhelmed with letters from PhD bedecked Christian expressing their faith. Maybe it is you who needs to crawl out from beneath that rock where you reside.

Boca Baby

June 21st, 2011
4:26 pm

I am absolutely amazed by those who are walking headlong to their own destruction who draw comfort and affirmation from those who are destined for the same fate. What is more amazing is the criticism they heap upon those who do not share their points of view.