An interesting story on NPR this morning about CNN anchor Don Lemon and his new autobiography, "Transparent," in which he reveals that he is gay. It's a story about one man's decision to come out in a business that might not welcome it. It's also a larger story about the superficiality of television news. I'm not a CNN watcher, but when I do come across the channel and find Lemon in the anchor seat, his calm demeanor is a welcomed change to the blustery delivery of others in cable news. From the NPR report:
"Do I want to be 'the gay anchor'?" Lemon said. He said his mentors and agents challenged him to consider whether he was willing to wear that label throughout his career. "And I'd have to say, at this point, why the hell not?"
American society has changed greatly in recent decades and the face of television news has changed a lot with it. Two women now occupy the nation's three network evening news anchor chairs, and the country's racial and ethnic diversity is reflected on the air as well. Yet Lemon says that change has not extended to sexual orientation — at least, not publicly.
"We live and die by people watching us," Lemon said. "If I give people another reason not to watch me, that is a concern for me and that's a concern for whoever I am working for.
But this made me wonder: does it really matter? Are even homophobes that afraid of who reads them the news? In 2011, we're still talking about whether a news personality's sexual orientation will scare people off? Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is yes.