CNN Anchor Don Lemon: ‘I Was Born Gay’


CNN anchor Don Lemon has come out publicly in an interview with the New York Times. Lemon, who says he has never made a secret of his homosexuality at work, talks about the fear he has about the potential reaction he might face from the black community.

“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.”

He adds:

“I think it would be great if everybody could be out,” he said. “But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world.”

Lemon tweeted a message of thanks to all of those who have shown him support.


Lemon also sent out an offical statement in which he said his new book, Transparent is dedicated to Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi. His statement in part:

"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."

Lemon will be doing a lengthy interview with Michelangelo Signorile on his SiriusXM radio show on Tuesday.


  1. daftpunkydavid says

    welcome out baby!! here’s hoping none of the negativity surrounding adult celebs who come out will happen around this news. god bless!

  2. Joe says

    I think people like Charles Perez and now Don Lemon should be congratulated and supported! Best of luck to both Charles and Don!

  3. Aaron says

    wow i though he was already out. I remember the first cnn NY eve special with Kathy Griffin and Don said, “Hey Kathy, Woo girl, I love you.”

  4. bandanajack says

    damn, the gossip rags had it right. it was first a blind item around which newscaster was huddling with howard bragman (who seems to have built himself a nice little niche clientele)and after ruling out AC, the guesses went right to don lemon, and whaddaya know, right on schedule.

    maybe sam champion is ready to go public? or robin roberts?

    the uninitiated public is in for a rude awakening as the begin to realize we are everywhere.

  5. mstrozfckslv says


    I wonder how much if at all Rachel Maddows interview ,where she talked about news reporters/anchors coming out, might have helped him over the last hurdle

  6. Sam says

    He also shared a story of childhood sexual abuse by a priest on the air before. You can bet that the religious conservatives are gonna draw that connection and celebrate in style.

  7. Anonymous says

    Anderson Cooper should be ashamed of himself for continuing to hide in the closet. I hope Lemon’s career soars.

  8. Rowan says

    Everyone knows that Cooper is gay and I think there impact is COMPLETELY different.

    As a black man in the news, this is much more powerful then the liberal white guy from NewYork who takes his boyfriend everywhere with him from holidays to grand marshall parades to Oscar parties.

    There are some people who you want them to do the big ‘I am gay’ splash and there others who are already out by being visible with their partners plus being involved in gay rights.

  9. kodiak says

    i don’t have tv, but i’m glad he’s out. i can’t chastise anderson cooper, last thing he needs is hate from the str8 AND gay community. mr. lemon says in his statement that everyone needs to come out at their own speed. anderson needs to know we will be here waiting with open arms. i also wonder if it would be physically dangerous for him to come out. after all he does put himself at risk by reporting live from troubled areas around the world, in places where gays are openly murdered without fear of retribution.

  10. Chris says

    This is huge. Don is a great anchor and seems like a sweet guy. I look forward to him stepping into the spotlight within the LGBT community as a result of this. Let’s hope this leads to even more success and happiness for him.

  11. slippy says

    Remember-Don Lemon is mostly a studio CNN reporter-Anderson Cooper has gone out into the field to report from places where being homosexual is a crime punishable by death. Anderson has never made a secret of his personal life just saying that he prefers to”…. report the news and not BE the news.” In a recent event, Anderson was one of the Grand Masters of the Endymion Mardi Gras parade held this last March in New Orleans and brought his boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani, along to celebrate! Here is a link to a photo of them both looking quite proud and happy together . Coming out is a very very personal decision and I congratulate Don Lemon for his courage and also I respect Anderson’s very personal decision to live his life openly but discreetly .

  12. says

    My gardar gets rustier by the day, I had no idea Don Lemon was gay. But I knew he was an excellent anchor by the way he covered the riots in Iran last year – when MSNBC was rerunning one of its’ prison shows.

    Glad he’s come out – and I hope Anderson Cooper finds it in himself to come out also.

  13. TampaZeke says

    I have to say though, it is most unfortunate that he didn’t think about what a poor choice it was to state that he was molested and born gay in the same sentence.

  14. TampaZeke says

    Is Mr. Lemon the person we were told would come out this week? If so, kudos. I think he’s an even better choice than Anderson Cooper.

  15. Jake says

    I am happy for, proud of, and grateful to Mr. Lemon.

    I will listen to his Sirius interview with Signorile on Tuesday.

    Apparently, his tie was “born gay” as well.

  16. neverstops says

    that’s great

    this actually surprises me – watch this guy almost every day & it never really crossed my mind

    this must be the anchor coming out everyone was speculating about last week – everyone assumed it was Cooper

    handsome guy, brave move – have to applaud him

  17. kranbree says

    Kudos to Don.

    Anderson Cooper = Richard Chamberlain. By the time he comes out he’ll be a doddering old man.

  18. neverstops says

    @LionsShower – those CNN guys keep well

    that hot weather guy Rob Marciano is in his mid-40’s too… they have some sort of “Death Becomes Her” elixir they pass around or bathe in virgins’ blood or something

  19. says

    Glass Closet Cases always say “I don’t want sexuality to be the Big Thing about me. It’s just one part of my life.” OK fine. The trouble is when you refuse to discss it gayness becomes what Roland Barthes would call the ‘structuring absence” of your life. Look at rachel Maddow. The fact that she’s a lesbain isn’t the center of her being. She’s got her own (teriffic) style and deals with all manner of issues on her show. The fact that she’s out is enormously helpful in this regard. Same with Thomas Roberts and now Don Lemon.

    Meanwhile Anderson Cooper remains stuck in”I don’t want to talk about my oersonal life” mode, leading him to lie when he let slip the truth in that contentious interview he did with Jerry Falwell years ago. Remember that?

  20. Sean says

    The reaction here to Mr. Lemon’s coming out is largely positive. The reaction to Mr. Welt’s coming out is largely negative. I’m not entirely sure why that is.

    I’m supportive of anyone coming out at any time. It’s a personal decision that is cruel to question. All that matters is that we all come out.

  21. gaylib says

    “I have to say though, it is most unfortunate that he didn’t think about what a poor choice it was to state that he was molested and born gay in the same sentence.”

    Lemon clearly states that he was born gay. Unless he was molested before he was born I don’t see how anyone could make any kind of connection. I think his point in mentioning it is the relief associated with being open and truthful about who we are. I commend him on the courage to tell the truth on both accounts.

  22. Rin says

    @David E

    I disagree with your comment on Rachel Maddow and the implications about Anderson Cooper.

    Rachel DOES make it a big deal not only in how she presents herself, the reports she chooses to take on, and how she interviews particular guests. Of all the gay people on television I think that she makes her orientation an armbadge–and that is her choice.

    However, there are some who choose to live their lives like everyone else, neither hiding their sexuality or explaining it. Straight people don’t explain they are straight. They are just seen going to events with their SOs…just like Anderson Cooper.

    He has NEVER hid his boyfriend. The boyfriend goes everywhere with him. THAT is his statement. He makes the statement every single day that gay IS normal.

  23. Homo Genius says

    I am really really glad young black gays now have a positive role model. but……..

    I really cant help noticing that yet again the “coming out” coincides with a book no one would have bought a few days ago.

  24. Andrew says

    All this hating on Anderson Cooper is really old and tired. He IS out. He lives his life as an out man. He does not lie about his sexual orientation or parade around a fake girlfriend.

    Some people choose to make a statement on the cover of Time or People (for very legitimate reasons), and others choose to simply live their lives day-to-day, and be the best they can be at their work. I respect both.

  25. says

    He’s right to fear his own Black community. 80% of the Black votes in the CA Prop 8 election were for Prop 8 and against gay marriage. We owe him our support, encouragement and thanks for speaking out publicly and putting his career on the line as well as his life. Kudos to the guy!

  26. ohplease says

    “The reaction here to Mr. Lemon’s coming out is largely positive. The reaction to Mr. Welt’s coming out is largely negative. I’m not entirely sure why that is.”

    Here’s why:

    Welts is a rich old white man with absolutely nothing to lose ever — he had the support of his entire family, friends and even his employers — who would rather deny his own partner’s death than be honest with all the people who already knew what was going and supported him while he insisted on their silence.

    Lemon is a black man working in a highly visible field whose livelihood depends on his being accepted by a mass audience and whose acceptance by his own community is in no way guaranteed.

    What Lemon did is heroic. What Welts did is pathetic. In 2011, it’s acceptable for a black man whose face is on TV every day to wait until his 40s to come out, but it is cowardly and idiotic for a rich white man who has everyone’s support to wait until his 50s to come out and to do so in the damn New York Times as if he’d actually done something other than reveal what a stupid fool he’s been his entire life.

  27. Mark says

    Kudos to Lemon and to Welts.

    Lemon didn’t need to announce. All he had to do is show up in that tie!

  28. anon says

    Roberts didn’t last long at CNN after he came out, so let’s see what happens to Mr. Lemon. He’s probably getting up there in years too, and only lead anchors are allowed to age.

  29. Brian in Texas says

    @ Anon

    Roberts had nude photos and a profile on a hook up site surface. That is why he disappeared from the air for a few years. Also, its not about how old you are, its how old you LOOK. Lemon doesn’t look a day over 33.

  30. Derrick from Philly says

    “He’s right to fear his own Black community. 80% of the Black votes in the CA Prop 8 election were for Prop 8 and against gay marriage. We owe him our support, encouragement and thanks for speaking out publicly and putting his career on the line as well as his life. Kudos to the guy”

    Oh, yes, he can really put his trust in you…after he shows three forms of indentification, of course.

  31. d says

    I’ve always respected Don. This just makes me like him even more.

    I don’t understand all the vitriol toward Welts and Cooper. Unlike some closeted politicians and clergy, those men, like Lemon, have never been hostile to our community. Our hateful comments will only discourage them from coming out.

  32. Gregv says

    @Brian in Texas: Wishful thinking aside (Who wouldn’t want to imagine Thomas Roberts under the suit!), I won’t buy every rumor I read on the Internet. Somebody found a pic of a hunk dark-haired man’s butt,and thinks it looks like what Thomas Roberts’ butt would look like… Ever notice (referring back to wishful thinking) that no one ever finds pics that look like Walter Cronkite’s butt?).
    I don’t know any more than you do, but I think moving to the nation’s capital to be with his partner, nearby his family’shome state, and work Ina high-profile position on a progressive network sounds like a more likely reason he left CNN than the rumor you found by a random dude on the Internet.

    Anyway, I’ve always known that Don Lemon was fair and compassionate in his views, but I had no idea he was gay.

    It feels like there is a multiplier effect going on here. A gay anchor is no longer huge news, and that’s a great thing! I’ve noticed every mainstream news team has become more understanding (or “less misinformed”) as of late. A gay co-worker tends to help people to re-think.

    I’m so proud to count Don Lemon among us!

  33. Leroy Laflamme says

    Well, look who just got a whole lot cuter! Yes, he’s going to get a lot of flack from black viewers, but he’s a brave man & clearly tough enough enough to weather the storm. Hopefully, the storm blows over before it even gets started.

  34. says

    To tell the truth I don’t remember whether I was gay or not at birth…..I remember nothing about it….
    I know I was never straight…..does that help ?

  35. Derrick from Philly says

    ” Yes, he’s going to get a lot of flack from black viewers”

    Yes, and he’ll become the darling of Southern White Baptists.

  36. Joe says

    Thanks for covering Don and Rick’s stories! Now, if you had only covered Charles Perez’s book, that would have been nice, too.

  37. hephaestion says

    Don Lemon is fantastic. One of the best anchors out there. This is GREAT news!! Bravo to you Don!

  38. Matt says

    Well good for him, but he was outed ON-AIR months ago. I was watching the actual show when a gay guest said they looked forward to seeing Don at some gay event. Don was clearly caught off guard and embarrassed.

    But none the less, welcome Don! And yes, he’s a very good-looking man.

  39. says

    He’s right to fear his own Black community. 80% of the Black votes in the CA Prop 8 election were for Prop 8 and against gay marriage. We owe him our support, encouragement and thanks for speaking out publicly and putting his career on the line as well as his life. Kudos to the guy!

    Posted by: OS2Guy | May 16, 2011 11:22:03 AM

    OK Miss 0S2Guy you idiot…Now the black vote for for Prop 8 has now went to 80%???

    Here queen read this it’s fundamental

    I knew someone was going to mess up a good moment!

  40. Beth says

    Any thing goes for non-believers. But for those who believe in Christ, Knows this is an abomination in the site of God who did not create another man to be the companion for Men. You desire your own Flesh, and just nasty behind close door and want the world to accept it. when you know deep down in your soul it is ‘Not Right”. If this were not so, why do we need to know you are gay or straight.

  41. Born ThatWay says

    The time is fastly approaching when people will finally begin to see that there are so many Gays in the world today, some whom you may be working or living with even, that the old prejudices of the day and age of long ago cannot withstand scrutiny. It is never a choice to be Gay. It is what one is born with, in fact, so much so as the color of your skin that is unchangeable. Time to End the Prejudice and coexist peacefully with Gays and Lesbians.

  42. Sinful Not says

    One must ALWAYS remember that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, spoke absolutely NOTHING as to being Gay or Lesbian being sinful. It is also not one of God’s Ten Commandments either, so what does that tell you? That it is actually *man’s* own prejudices and fears that bring them to use Biblical passages that do not apply and that speak to something else! And people, also remember that it is by the Blood of Jesus Christ that we are Saved and He said absolutely nothing against being Gay or Lesbian. Enough said. End of story.

  43. Bella says

    I support him coming out and admitting his sexual preference. I wish him all the best. I dont think he was born gay…allot of individuals who were sexual abused as a child are gay. You are being introduced to a sexual lifestyle at an impressionable age.
    I wish he had told him mom at the time when it happened to him. The shame of sexual abuse prevents us from dealing with this issue when it needs confrontation.
    All circumstances are different and i wish all the children who are sexually abused had the option to choose for themselves instead of being introduced to a sexual lifestyle involuntary….
    A concerned mother

  44. Derrick from Philly says


    A lot of children are sexually abused because they are ALREADY Gay–especially Gay boys. Sometimes the attacker will justify (in his demented thinking) his sexual assault because the boy is Gay.

    And that’s about as much patience as I can muster on this part of the topic…Andy Towle doesn’t allow profanity on this blog anymore, and I’m about to go there.

  45. David Laster says

    Don, I am sorry but I do not buy the fact that you think that you was born gay. There is no such thing! I very sad to learn that you are gay. How does this connect to your believe in God and way He feel about this belief.

  46. JPM says

    Im sorry to learn that you are gay, Don. Trust me, you were not born that way. God meant for men to be with women, not men, according to the Bible. Only Satan himself has spread that lie that people are born gay and that they can’t help it. If you really “want” to change, with God’s help you can. The Bible says that God is going to destroy fornicators, adulterers, men who lie with men, women who lie with women etc. Why would you want to displease God? While He is a loving, caring and merciful God, He still has standards and He wants us to live up to them. When He, God, put Adam with Eve, He made no mistake. If you can’t procreate naturally with your mate as God intended, Don, then you shouldn’t be with that mate!!!!










  50. says

    please read this letter. i feel so confused and offended about myself with regards to the way i am, and i think i need a psychologist or a psychiatrist or some kind of therapy to let me know what it is i need to know…because not knowing my true identity is causing me to be drastic in the way i cope.


    i was reading on some “born this way” website about someone – let’s call him “randolph” – who was trying to justify his being “born gay” with a picture of him as a small boy wearing a female’s hat on his head. “the cat was already out of the bag,” he wrote. i will ask if it’s true that a life is set in stone at such a young age, because i am living a lie if it is true. for crying out loud, i enjoy the way malt-candy tastes today but i was sickened and revolted by the taste as a boy. what is the meaning of this, i thought the cat was out of the bag that i hated malt-candy! WHY WERE MY PREDETERMINED TASTES CHANGED, I HAD HATED MALT-CANDY SINCE BIRTH AND NOW I LOVE IT.

    my parents have a picture of me being on a soccer team at age 5 or 6 – was the cat was out of the bag that i was born to be a soccer player? soccer once attracted me like joni attracted chachi, so am i supposed to be a soccer player and am i denying my true identity by not playing sports? i would like to learn the truth of who i was predetermined to be, because the last thing i want to do is deny myself of my true wants and desires simply because those wants and desires were discouraged through other peoples’ negative opinions of my being a sportsman.

    i have recently become somewhat of an incessant player of slot machines. i’m somewhat entranced when i’m seeing and hearing the slots – slots attract me like honey does to a bee, and it’s so difficult for me to keep from wrapping my hand around the big long pole and jerking it down to get the slot machine ejaculating out money. my mind is in a different place when i am faced with a row of sinfully-attractive slot machines, they are such a temptation. i kind of want a psychologist or other head-therapist to help me become the non-gambling person i want to be., i don’t want to see slot machines the way i do and i don’t want to be attracted to slot machines the way i am, but i’m sure it is illegal for psychologists to change peoples’ orientations. if gambling comes so naturally to me, if i am oriented to the gambling world, then i have a gamblers’ orientation and i fear a psychologist would get in trouble for helping me change my orientation. i fear i will just have to accept having been oriented to gambling.

    i wouldn’t think i was born a gambler, as i had never wanted to gamble before age 37, but maybe my inner gambler was stifled by christians who made me believe that gambling is bad. maybe the choices i’ve made in life were a product of christians’ values which just didn’t orient me to gambling. maybe i was actually born a gambler, maybe my true identity was stifled by christians, but even if it wasn’t then i’m sure i could find some “gay rights” groups to help me believe that i was always just afraid to proclaim the truth about myself.

    by age five, i was imitating john travolta singing “greased lightning,” so i wonder if actors are predetermined. i memorized “ferris bueller’s day off” at 13, i memorized “dirty dancing” at 14, i acted in high school plays, was i born to be an actor? i joined the soccer team at about the same time as i emulated john travolta, am i supposed to be an actor with a hobby of playing soccer? am i supposed to be a soccer player with a hobby of acting? i guess i was born with so much knowledge and so many interests and desires already formed inside my brain, that it’s hard to determine who i was meant to be.

    i’ve had a love for dogs since i was 8 years old, i’ve always wanted them to be protected from harm and to live a happy life, i’ve always seen dogs of the world through the eyes of a caretaker – was i born this way? was i born to be an animal-rights activist? am i predetermined to be a soccer player with a hobby of acting, doing a weekend job at the local animal shelter while spending my free time giving in to temptation at casinos? i’ll assume that this is just what randolph would assume – he’d maintain that my behaviors should reflect my childhood. he’d maintain that i was born with lusts for acting and gambling, though my gambling-lust was stifled by christians until my30s, and that it is self-denial not to act on my lusts. he’d also maintain that i destroyed a part of myself because i had let other people stifle my desire to play soccer so much that it doesn’t exist anymore.

    i’d wonder if randolph would maintain that i was born a dog-lover, since i’ve loved dogs even before i started loving members of my own gender. i don’t trust randolph, i don’t even know if he’s a psychologist, so i want to ask the following question to someone who knows something about predetermined lives: who am i, why am i attracted to slot machines if other men are not, why do i now like malt-candy when i’ve hated it for as long as i can remember? and why does my mind process images of slot machines and flavors of malt-candy differently than the way other mens’ minds do?


    president obama has spoken, and i know that life is not what i make of it. i know that life is like a business and that one person is not responsible for either, therefore i want to live the life i was supposed to live and not the life i’ve made for myself.


    dylan terreri, i
    jaggedlittledyl dotcom/essays