NEW YORK – CNN anchor Don Lemon has come out as a gay man in his new book, a disclosure he knows comes at a risk.
While Lemon’s memoir, titled “Transparent,” also covers his journalism career, he’s prepared for much of the reaction to focus on more personal matters, which include growing up without a father and his revelation that he was sexually abused as a child.
In his book, the 45-year-old Lemon writes of having lived with “dark, ugly secrets” that took him years to bring into the light.
Being black made being gay feel even worse, he said in an interview Monday, “because of how the black community perceives a gay person. An African-American male is taught that he has to be masculine.
“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 was always there.”
Lemon says it would be naive to assume that the public won’t have strong opinions about what he has written, and he’s braced for some people to react negatively.
“But it’s important for everyone to be truthful about who they are,” he said, adding that CNN has been “very supportive” of his decision to go public.
Few national television news anchors have publicly acknowledged being gay, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow perhaps the best known.
Lemon, who serves as a correspondent and anchors “CNN Newsroom” during weekend prime time, joined the network in 2003. “Transparent” will be released next month.