Don Lemon: CNN anchor is authentic, honest and approachableFeature Story Friday, September 9th, 2011
Don Lemon has won multiple Emmys for his primetime news anchor position at CNN. He startled the world with two powerful announcements on air. One, that he was molested as a child, and two, that h
San Diego LGBT Weekly: With not much history behind you yet, because you are so young, why did you write your book Transparent?
Don Lemon: I’m 45 years old, dude, I’m old! The publisher kept approaching me to write a book, and I kept saying no. Justin Beiber wrote a book for Heaven’s sake! He’s just out of the womb. I thought I would try it and write a little inspirational book.
Why did you come out when you did? Was it the honest thing to do?
In the course of writing a memoir, I just didn’t see how I could write about myself and not include that. It would be completely hypocritical, and I abhor hypocrisy. It’s one of the things I insist upon in my work. If you’re going to come on television, don’t espouse one thing in public and then do another behind closed doors. It happens a lot with American figures. So, why would I omit it? That’s who I am. I have gotten my success, in part, by being who I am, which is a gay man. Why would I lie? Why not just admit it? It’s not like it’s a great coming-out book. It’s not a huge revelation.
Were you out in your daily working life?
In the course of my life, I had moved to New York City (from Baton Rouge). I graduated college. I had worked for the local Fox station and I was able to come out in my daily life with whom I chose. It was sort of organic to do it that way.
It’s kind of refreshing and honest to say you are gay. In all the years I have been interviewing celebrities and movie stars, no one will ever admit being gay!
There are no gay movie stars! I just can’t believe there are no gay movie stars. Can you believe it? They defy the population in general. Nobody is gay in movies. Astonishing!
We have a positive outlook on life much as you do. Has it helped you in your journalism career?
You have to. You have to have a sense of humor, you must. It has helped to have a positive outlook. When I came out on CNN, I had been doing serious interviews all day about being gay. Then I went on Joy Behar, and she made me laugh. I thanked her for that! You can’t take yourself that seriously.
Joy Behar is very pro-gay, and she makes it known.
Yes, she is. She’s the most pro-gay person you can be! I love Joy. I think she’s a good journalist because she’s not a journalist. She’ll ask human questions that every person at home wants to hear the answers to themselves. She does great interviews.
You recently hosted the Joy Behar Show and interviewed three transgenders. That was unusual! It brings it to the forefront of America’s consciousness.
What an interesting show, huh? This was history. There were gay and transgender people on the show, Chaz Bono and me! Chaz said we were doing a ‘Transgender 101’ show. Don’t think everybody in America understands about transgenders. You have to give them a 101 course. Chaz was kind of cranky. People tweeted for him to lay off the testosterone!
Are you open to being a gay icon to gay youth, and especially black gay youth?
No, I’m not hoping to be a gay icon for anyone. That’s not why I did it. I was just being honest and authentic. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that just by saying the words and owning it, I’m an accidental role model. I accept that. If it means by owning it that it helps other youth, then I’m all for it. I dedicated the book to Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who jumped off a bridge for being bullied.
Your book is called Transparent, but there was nothing in it about your personal life. We want all the juicy gossip!
You mean whether I’m dating someone? The book isn’t about that. I guess I’ll have to write another book. I‘ve been dating someone for four years in October. He said, ‘This is about you, honey. It’s your time and it’s about your platform to help young gay people. It’s not about me.’ I’m not hiding it or ashamed of my personal life.
I was searching through the book wondering where all the juicy gossip was hidden. I was dying of curiosity to find out something revealing and scandalous.
Well, there’s not much gossip. My life is pretty boring.
Oh yes, your life is so boring! You’re on worldwide TV every night, you travel around the world, you meet Kings and Queens (real ones), have fabulous guests on the show. It’s just so boring! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
Would you ever want to appear in a movie?
I would love to do movies. I did some small parts. I play a reporter in Brass Ring with William Hurt. I’d love to be in a movie or TV show. It’s so awesome. (Lemon is actually appearing in the new Lionsgate spectacular drama-fight film Warrior with Australian hunks Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.)
What would you like our readers to know about you?
I’m just a normal guy. There’s no putting on airs with me. I treat everyone with the same respect, from the gardener to the president. I’m very approachable. That’s how my mamma raised me.
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