Don Lemon Talks Colorism and Coming Out
The anchor lives up to the name of his new memoir, Transparent, in a chat with The Root about the complexion of broadcast TV and being a black gay role model.
TR: How has the response been since you publicly revealed last September that you were a victim of molestation?
DL: People were genuinely supportive. I've got [a] phone-book-size [folder of] responses from people who tweeted and emailed and texted and called and said, "You know what? I'm so glad you talked about that because it's something we don't talk about as a people." And in general, men don't want to talk about it, and people don't want to say it exists.
TR: What advice do you have for others who are dealing with having been sexually abused?
DL: A child should always tell -- always. When you're an adult, the best way to move beyond it is to get it out. Whether it's a confidant, a therapist or someone at your church, or your significant other, talk about it and get it out because it frees you.
TR: How has the response been since you publicly came out as a gay man?
DL: At first it was like getting shot out of the cannon; you're like, oh, my gosh, what's happening? And then you don't really know how people are going to react. But it's been overwhelmingly positive. I feel free. I feel lighter and I'm happy.
TR: You also write about positive examples of black manhood, which some people believe is always under attack. Can black gay men be positive examples of black manhood?
DL: I am a black gay man who is a positive example of manhood. And there are other black gay men who are like me -- who are thriving, healthy, happy, successful, who are centered, but many of them are afraid to come out because of questions like the one that you're asking.
Not that there is anything wrong with the question you're asking, because that's what people say. That's why people choose not to come out, and that's why we don't have a lot of examples of positive, black gay role models. Why can't I be [a] role model? Why do all role models have to be either an actor or an athlete or an entertainer?