Don Lemon has opened up about how difficult it is to be black and openly gay in the US.
“So as black, gay men, we carry the racism part and we carry the gay part.”
Watch Don Lemon on Red Table Talk:
Lemon, who came out publicly in 2011, explained to hosts—Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow and mother Adrienne, “We’re already a class of people who have been discriminated against, so why do I want to have another mark against me?”
“Some of us say we’re too black to be gay. Or are we too gay to be black?”
— Don Lemon
“Historically, black men have stayed in the closet. You have to decide your identity: Do I want to be black? Or do I want to be gay?
“And sometimes, some of us say we’re too black to be gay. Or are we too gay to be black?”
Lemon said that as a gay, black man, discrimination could come from all sides.
“You get it from your own folks or from the larger community,” Lemon told the hosts. “And you’re worried about your job, will you be able to advance?
“And you get it from your sisters, who are like: ‘Why not me?'”
Don Lemon tearfully reveals how he came out to his mum
Lemon, 52, revealed to the presenters that he came out to his mum when he was 30, after a painful breakup.
“I just started crying, and it came out on the phone, and she was very quiet—but very accepting. She said: ‘I’m your mum. I’m going to love you no matter what.
“‘I’m your mum, I’m always going to love you.'”
He teared up as he continued: “That meant the world to me. The hardest thing was: I could tell anyone else. But I couldn’t tell my mother.”
After that, Lemon said, he was “free. Nothing else mattered after that.”
Don Lemon discusses attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett
Lemon said he was saddened but not shocked by the suspected racial and homophobic attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett last month, which led to Smollett being hospitalised.
He told the hosts: “I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t like that it happened to him. My concern is for him and for his well-being.
“On top of having to deal with discrimination as a black man, he’s gay and he’s out, and then, fame. And fame is not natural. I don’t think people were meant to be famous,” the CNN anchor added.
Lemon also revealed that he had exchanged text messages with Smollett since the attack.
He said he told the actor: “I know you think I’m annoying, but I just want to know how you’re doing and that you’re okay. If you need somebody, you can talk to me, because there’s not a lot of us out there.
“Sometimes he responds, sometimes he doesn’t. When he responds, he says: ‘You are not annoying.'”