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