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CNN anchor Don Lemon encourages others to come out of the closet: There's 'deception in silence'

May 18, 2011 |  6:30 am

Lemon CNN anchor Don Lemon, who comes out in his upcoming memoir "Transparent," said he thinks "there's a degree of deception in silence," and encourages others to speak candidly about their sexual orientation.

In a lengthy Gawker interview, Lemon agreed at least in principle with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who ignited a bit of a firestorm last month when she said TV personalities and media pundits have a responsibility to come out publicly.

While saying that he respects a person's choice to keep that information private, "I equate it to people who used to pass for white during the civil rights movement. It's disingenuous and dishonest and you should live in truth and give a hand to people who are struggling and help pull them up rather than turning your back on them."

Lemon has been open about being gay with friends and colleagues, he said, and didn't realize until Monday's announcement (as part of the advance promotion for his book) that the news would be carried so widely. He was a trending topic on Twitter after speaking to the New York Times and NPR.

"I had no idea it would hit this big," he told TVNewser journalist Gail Shister, mentioning the "thousands" of tweets and Facebook posts. Now that word is out, "I can just continue to be a good journalist and a good citizen."

A number of bloggers and fellow journalists have commented on the move, some noting that negative reaction shows how far the country still has to go toward tolerance and understanding.

Keith Boykin said in a Huffington Post piece that the revelation will "take on special meaning in the black community. By standing up for who he is, Don Lemon will help to placate the fears of other black gay men and lesbians who are waiting to do the same."

The Philadelphia Daily News' Jenice Armstrong wrote in a column, "With all the religious leanings, coupled with a cultural 'no-homo' bias toward hyper-masculinity as evidenced by many of today's popular rap icons and professional athletes, it's clear why it took Lemon 45 years to come out."

Lemon told Gawker that he thinks gays in the public eye, whether they're in media or Hollywood, need to make "the big announcement" about being gay. "One day we won't need to, but now it's still necessary, until people think differently."

RELATED:

Rachel Maddow on closeted gay anchors

-- T.L. Stanley

Photo: Don Lemon. Credit: CNN

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