|In "Hot-lanta" you stay "in the closet" as CNN’s Don Lemon did|
|PEW Research Center|
CNN’s Don Lemon has penned a memoir titled "Transparent" that will come out in September. In writing his book, Lemon said "the decision to come out happened organically."
One of the motivating reasons for Lemon, 45, now revealing his sexual orientation is because of the suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Clementi, if your remember, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after finding out that his college roommate and another classmate used a webcam to secretly broadcast his sexual encounters with another male, highlighting the dangers of "cyberbullying" -- teasing, harassing, or intimidating with pictures or words distributed online or via text message. Clementi’s suicide along with the other eight lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and young adults went viral in September 2010 and they saturated the media.
In this era of acceptance of LGBTQ people in news broadcasting like Lemon’s colleague Anderson Cooper, ABC’s Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her colleague Thomas Roberts, to name a few, one would wonder about the source of the media brouhaha with Lemon’s disclosure, especially since it was not secret at work about his sexual orientation.
"It’s quite different for an African-American male," Lemon told Joy Behar on her HLN show. "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."
And Lemon is right. With homophobia running as rampant in historically black colleges and universities as it is in black communities, there are no safe places for GBTQ brothers of African descent to safely acknowledge their sexuality or to openly engage the subject of black GBTQ sexualities.
"I was born gay, just as I was born black," Lemon told Behar.
But black GBTQ sexualities within African American culture are perceived to further threaten not only black male heterosexuality, but also the ontology of blackness itself.
With certain aspects of hip-hop culture displaying a hyper-masculinity, this male-dominated genre is aesthetically built on the most misogynistic and homophobic strains of Black Nationalism and afrocentricism.
Lemon courageously goes on to explain to Behar another reason why it took him so long to come out.
"And our community is steeped in religion, with the church preaching against homosexuality. I prayed a lot growing up that I would change, that I would be straight," he said. "But no matter how good I was, how much I prayed and denied what I was, it [being gay] was always there."