Why Are You Not More Transparent Like Don Lemon?

Too many gay Black men hide behind relationships with women—even have sex with them—to avoid shame. They don’t want their family, friends, co-workers, and associates to know that at their core they are gay. I’m not talking about men who are truly bisexual. Authentically bisexual men exist and they men should tell their partners they are bisexual. However, my problem lies with those Black men who know they are gay and would desire nothing more to just be gay, but don’t have the courage to simply be gay, so they just hide their homosexuality behind public facades and dishonest relationships with women. Okay, even if these men are truly bisexual, why won’t they tell these women they are bisexual? Many gay Black men will get married and/or have babies with women just to attempt to conceal their homosexuality.  Don’t the women who are they are having sex with have a right to know they are sleeping with men?

Don Lemon, an African-American male Emmy award-winning news anchor for CNN, recently disclosed on CNN and in his new book, Transparent, that he is gay. He also promulgated that he had been molested as a young child. Although there are many narratives available about men being molested as children and living a homosexual life as adults, what I appreciated most about Don Lemon publically divulging that he is gay is how casual he revealed it and how it’s not such a big deal to him. The comfortable way in which Lemon communicated that he is gay has the potential to unsettle some aspects of the ways in which homosexuality is discussed in the Black community. His verbal and non-verbal communication expressed a powerful message that what he was publically unveiling about his sexuality and sexual orientation is just as common as heterosexuality, and that homosexuality is not something novel, considering you know people who are family members and friends who are gay—if you are not gay yourself.

He considered all of the other aspects of his book to be far more important than the fact that he is gay. He even talked about the fact that he could have taken out revealing that he was gay at any point, but it was recent developments concerning young people and homosexuality that caused him to leave his story about his own sexual abuse and gay identity in the book. You will, therefore, have to give me some stronger arguments and rationales that he just penned this book to publicly disclose that he’s gay to get money.  Even though he didn’t just compose this book to express that he’s gay to get money and/or attention, do you have the courage to do the same?

Speaking of courage, it’s the lack of courage that prevents gay Black men from telling their family, friends, and others that they are gay. While I’m fully aware that there are consequences for promulgating that you are gay to your family, friends, and others, you must remove the veil that you put on about your sexuality if you truly want to be a transparent person at your core. The target audience for my previous two sentences is really those Black men who are involved in relationships with women just to cover up their homosexuality. If you are accomplished and/or successful like Don Lemon, what would keep you from living a life where you are free to enjoy the freedom to live out your sexuality as publically as you live out other aspects about who you are?

Many Black married men are having sex with gay men and are not telling their wives. This lack of transparency threatens the lives of these women. It’s unfair to hide your homosexual affairs from the woman you are married to because she didn’t marry you for you to be loving up on some other man.

I find it quite interesting that supposedly heterosexual men will have sex with gay men and do things after they have sex to try to prove to the gay men that they are not gay. What? Really? Were you not gay when you were having sex with the gay men? You’re gay—face it! If you have sexual intercourse where you penetrate a man in his anus and/or you let a man penetrate you in the anus, you are gay. If you gave and/or received oral sex from a man, you are gay. If you have had sexual intercourse of any kind with a man, you are gay. If you are thinking about doing these things, then you are gay too. Face it!

Stop using these women as trophies to attempt to hide your homosexuality. If you want to be a homosexual, just be a homosexual. No, you don’t have to reveal your sexuality to everyone, but you should disclose it to the women you are involved with, married to, or considering getting involved with or marrying. Do you have the courage to tell them?

If you are transparent with the right people in your life about your sexuality, then you might just find out life is more free and enjoyable. Before just recently, Don Lemon had not told the world that he is gay, but he had let his co-workers and the people close to him know that he is gay. While you may not be gay, are there other aspects about you that you don’t have the courage to unveil to the people close to you? What factors, if any, keep you from living a more transparent life?

To Don Lemon, I salute you for having the courage to “be yourself.” I have been championing the message of “be yourself” all of my life. Don, you have given America an opportunity to wrestle with the importance of being transparent and have given us an opportunity to explore what being transparent really means. Thank you, Don Lemon!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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24 comments

  1. Well stated and well written. These cowardly brothers are killing our community. AIDS is still running rampant through our communities and gay men fronting as straight are not allowing females to make intelligent choices regarding their health.

    I certainly applaud anyone who is willing to be what they are, regardless of what that may be.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Although this article focuses primarily on gay men and the health risks they can present for women, men of all sexual orientations are threatening the health of women because they lack transparency, that is, they are simply not being honest. HIV/AIDS is real. While a gay/bisexual man who is not sleeping with a woman does not have to tell whether or not he is gay, the moment he decides to engage in a relationship with a woman he has a responsibility to tell her. Why? Because the woman needs to have a choice to decide whether or not she wants to get involved with a man who has or had sex with other men. If the woman does not want to be with the man after he reveals that to her, then that’s on her. However, we have to learn to be more sexually responsible and honest as a people. Thanks for reading and your response!

  2. “If you are accomplished and/or successful like Don Lemon, what would keep you from living a life where you are free to enjoy the freedom to live out your sexuality as publically as you live out other aspects about who you are?” – Being Black and gay.

    I think the transparency should come with the partners. I don’t think you have to be transparent with the entire world. Nobody has the right to know who you’re sleeping with. Telling them is a privilege. Like Lemon stated in interviews, people already knew. This was just made public information. Good post! And congrats to Lemon- I’m sure he’s an avid reader of the Paideia!

    1. Being Black and gay should not be barriers for accomplished and successful men like Don Lemon to freely live out their sexuality as publicly as they live out other aspects of their life. Yes, I agree that they should be transparent with their partners. No, you don’t have to be transparent with the entire world. If you are in a committed relationship, considering marriage, or are married, one’s intimate partner has a right to know who one is having sex with. To not tell the person who you are in a committed relationship who you are having sex with is simply dishonest. It triggers how dishonest the person is at his core and how he will be dishonest in virtually every other area of his life.

      Yeah, he stated people already knew; more specifically, he stated that it was the close people around him who knew. Yes, he just made this public to everyone. Don Lemon is too busy of a person to be an avid reader of my blog, although T.J. Holmes, a fellow University of Arkansas alum, may read my blog. Thanks for reading and your response!

      1. Although being Black and gay are barriers-

        Are you implying the more successful you are the easier it is to come out? Or the more successful you are the easier it should be? I’m confused.

        1. If a Black man, no matter his credentials or bank account, would muster the courage to truly be himself and to truly love Truth, then this notion of “coming out” or “coming out of the closet” (which I find both to be the oddest expressions) would not be a big issue in the first place. Regardless of whether or not you have anything in your bank account or behind your name, a commitment to Truth should be what guides you. When people are not willing to be transparent, which does not mean you have to tell everybody everything publicly or privately, this is what determines what kind of person he or she really is. It’s all about what kind of human being you want to be. Some people rather live in the nightshade instead of the light, which gives us a range of diversity in terms of what kind of human beings we have here on the planet.

          Yes, capitalism makes it a little more easier for the rich and successful man to be more public and/or open about a sexuality that is not heteronormative. Yes, that’s most unfortunate.

      2. Earlier you just said it’s easier because he has the money, now you’re saying it’s going to be easier for anyone, as long as they are committed to the truth. I think either way the barriers are still there. Don Lemon (successful) is no different from any regular Black Joe coming out of the closet. I don’t think we should create cases.

        1. Here’s what I mean, regardless of what has been previously said or not said: If a person is gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, transgender, or whatever, he or she should feel free to be transparent about aspects of his or her life deemed to be important, including his or her sexuality. Regardless of people’s varying income levels, they should be allowing themselves to freely explore and embrace their sexuality. Regardless of their varying income levels, people must muster the courage to freely be themselves without masking anything. It’s all about one’s willingness to muster the courage to simply be one’s true self. We have too many spineless sleepwalkers on Earth who lack the courage to simply be themselves. The less transparent a person is the more dishonest he or she can potentially be.

          Don Lemon never came out of any closet because he was never in a closet. He made his sexual orientation known to the people it was necessary to disclose it to: the people close to him. On the issue of being transparent, I agree with your “I don’t think we should create cases.” However, I argue that it’s certainly easier for some people to reveal that they are gay than others–for a whole list of reasons and factors. Yes, barriers are still there for all; however, those barriers are not always the same and have varying degrees of intensity from person to person, from situation to situation.

  3. Maurice, Maurice, Maurice,

    Bear with me: I’m going to be all over the place with this one. Some content will not pertain to issue at hand.

    You live for transparency, don’t you?!! Why?

    Silence is golden, Privacy is PLATINUM! Whenever someone probes me about my life, I divert the conversation to the escalating cost of gas, Osama’s death, and Obama’s re-election…..

    “Even though he didn’t just compose this book to express that he’s gay to get money and/or attention, do you have the courage to do the same”

    The money aspect got my attention. I’m sorry but I do not believe someone would waste their precious time typing away, publishing their story without considering the financial gains. I know many say that, “I was writing to help others like me….blah blah”. And end up making gazillions.

    You also touched on the issue of courage….I don’t think humans have embraced homosexuality as they have heterosexuality. So until then…it’s deuces to us as a human race accepting reality.

    New word today: Antonym for Umime is Submime (There’s no history available as to how I came about with this one)

    1. Yes, I live for transparency because what defines me is a commitment to Truth and Justice. All my life I have been advocate for Truth and Justice. When one has such a commitment to and love of Socrates, the individuals sees just how important transparency is to the pursuit and achievement of Truth and Justice.

      All of the those problems that you listed can be linked back to a lack of transparency. If folks would have been more transparent instead of telling lies, then those problems would not be problems.

      Don Lemon is a tremendously successful Black man and an Emmy award winner. He does not need to use his sexuality to sell books. Of course, in a capitalist society, one is always aware of how one could profit from something that he or she does, but to suggest that this is the reason or primary reason he penned this book is a weak argument that is in no way connected to the past decisions that this man has made. Psychology teaches us to judge people by their previous actions, and at no time in Don Lemon’s past has he made decisions primarily for the sake of money, that is, for the profit motive.

      The majority of Americans have not embraced homosexuality, but it’s just as normal as heterosexuality.

      Yes, we have some disagreements on this topic, especially when it comes to the notion(s) of transparency. Thanks for reading and your response!

  4. “The money aspect got my attention. I’m sorry but I do not believe someone would waste their precious time typing away, publishing their story without considering the financial gains. I know many say that, “I was writing to help others like me….blah blah”. And end up making gazillions.”

    I have to agree with African Mami here. I hate to be cynical but why else does one write? And seeing as how he didn’t make the announcement to the world before the book…..

    1. He made the announcement to share his own experience with sexual abuse to respond to the tragedy of the boy in New Jersey who committed suicide over the pressure of being gay. I’m sure he was well aware that revealing this would produce money and attention, but one typically uses the literary genre of the memoir, as Don Lemon did, when he or she has experienced such a level of success that money is really not a big deal for him or her.

      Academics, like myself, write and publish scholarly and/or empirical articles and books all the time not for money, but for the pure love of writing and the advancement of scholarship. Most bloggers are not getting paid but they still write. He just seems too casual about it for it to be the primary motivation for him writing the book. He even thought about taking it out at times, so it could not have been his primary reason for penning the book. He has plenty of money already too. It was the process of writing his own memoir that caused him to even consider revealing his sexual identity.

      Memoirs are intensely and deeply personal. One’s sexuality is something that is natural to be disclosed in a memoir. I, therefore, don’t really see how, in light of the fact he wrote a memoir, that his intent about revealing his sexual identity was necessarily for economic gain. Capitalist ideology is so powerful that it makes us think almost everything that’s being produced is for the purpose of being bought and sold, since capitalism is based on the massive production of commodities.

  5. I agree with you on the following points:

    “Academics, like myself, write and publish scholarly and/or empirical articles and books all the time not for money, but for the pure love of writing and the advancement of scholarship. Most bloggers are not getting paid but they still write.”

    “Memoirs are intensely and deeply personal. One’s sexuality is something that is natural to be disclosed in a memoir.”

    But I cannot agree that the timing of his disclosure to the media had nothing to do with the upcoming book. As you have already stated, Lemon is an accomplished member of the media. As such, I find it difficult to believe that he gave no thought to the fact that his disclosure would generate publicity and revenue for his project.

    I’m not being critical of Lemon at all. I think he has shown himself to be a man of character during this whole process.

    1. I agree that he had to give it some thought, but I’m just not willing to go as far as it was his primary purpose for composing the book. Yes, he had to know that revealing his sexual orientation would generate cash, but I’m just not sold on the idea that it was his primary purpose for writing the book. He’s a smart man and knows that sexual identity issues and sexuality politics are popular topics. However, if this was someone else, I would be more inclined to support the position that it was his or her primary purpose for penning the book. I agree that he has demonstrated great character throughout this whole process.

      1. I am not all saying that his primary purpose for writing the book was financial gain. That is an overstatement of my position. I am only agreeing with Drew that his announcement was timed to promote the book.

        1. For me, it was not timed to promote the book. I think it emerged as a natural dimension of memoir writing. When anyone writes a memoir, especially a memoir that is going to be serious and grounded in Truth, it forces the individual to expose some of the deepest aspects about one’s identity or identities and many unsettling realities about one’s life. While I certainly understand that it was possible for him to time this revelation to promote the book, I just don’t believe that he timed it. I think that it emerged as one of many other revelations in the book that materialize when any individual, including Don Lemon, engages in the process of writing about one’s self.

          When I have had my students to begin writing their autobiographies, all of them have stated that they revealed things in their autobiographies that they never thought they would, but that was so liberating just to put on the page and share them with others. This is also consistent with other writers of memoirs and autobiographies. I just think this is the case with Don Lemon. When you are a public figure like Don Lemon, any critical self-examination of one’s own life will produce things that the public wants to read about and know about, especially when it comes to this Black successful, attractive (from perspectives of many), and unmarried man at that.

          I could be completely wrong, however, and you and Drew could be right.

  6. I agree with your statements. I think its sad when any person, of any color, cant be their authentic self. I dont think this is just a black man issue though, I think white men and asian men and just… “MEN” are going on the down low behind their significant other’s backs.

    Its getting easier to be “gay” now in society, but i can understand why some men would want to hide behind women. Im not saying it right, I’m just trying to understand the mentality.

    Im bisexual and have had relationships with women. The hate you get from some people is crazy. Straight up violence even.

    Some men probably just arent strong enough to deal with all that, and its easier to just hide behind a woman and be “the same” than be “yourself”. This is a heartbreaking to me.

    Don Lemon is a very strong man, and its awesome that we have him and people like him to be a pilar for people who are a lot less strong to help open up society’s mindset of the homosexuality community as a whole.

    1. I agree with your response very much. One of the most important things that I use this platform here is to advocate for people to simply be themselves. I often give them ways that they can begin to muster the courage to truly be themselves. Thanks for reading and your response!

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