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CNN's Don Lemon Reveals in Memoir: I'm Gay

Don Lemon

“I think it would be great if everybody could be out. But it’s such a personal choice," he says.

CNN anchor Don Lemon reveals in his new memoir, Transparent, that he is gay.

"I think it would be great if everybody could be out,” he says in an interview with the New York Times. “But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world.”

Clementis is the Rutgers University student who jumped off New York City's George Washington Bridge after a sexual encounter with another male in his dorm room was taped by fellow students and broadcast online.

“I think if I had seen more people like me who are out and proud, it wouldn’t have taken me 45 years to say it, to walk in the truth,” Lemon said.

Still, it wasn't easy for Lemon to open up about his sexuality.

“I’m scared. I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for," he told the Times.

He notes there could be ramifications for his TV career, as well as race issues.

“It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.”

“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women," he went on. “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”

Lemon was approached by a publisher to write a book several years ago after speaking on a panel called "The Black Man in the Age of Obama."

“It was supposed to be a little pamphlet,” he said. “You know: say your prayers; have a good, hearty handshake; say good morning to your boss.”

But as he was writing, he realized he wanted to tell his whole story, including how he was molested as a child. Later, he had second thoughts about revealing so many personal details, but then decided to go forward with his deeply personal memoir.

“But as I started to read it back, I said, no, leave it,” he told the Times. “I abhor hypocrisy. I think if you’re going to be in the business of news, and telling people the truth, of trying to shed light in dark places, then you’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to have the same rules for yourself as you do for everyone else.”

CNN has booked him Monday on daytime show CNN Newsroom and Joy Behar's show on sister channel HLN to promote his new book.