Don Lemon opens up about being gay in the black community

Lemon shares why he chose to speak out in the midst of the Kevin Hart controversy.
8:53 | 01/11/19

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Transcript for Don Lemon opens up about being gay in the black community
We need to speak up for the young black people, especially young black men, kids in the lgbt community. We in the African-American community, we have to stop low-key co-signing homophobia. It is not cool. And we won't tolerate jokes that tell those youth otherwise. That was CNN anchor don lemon with a heartfelt plea for a more tolerant treatment of lgbtq people in the wake of the recent Kevin hart controversy. Here to hopefully enlighten us even further is my our friend, don lemon. Hey, don. Good morning, ladies. Good morning, good morning. Good to see you. This story was getting traction before you dealt with it but you seem to be particularly passionate about it. Why is that? Because there's -- honestly, how many out people with a platform, black men, gay men who are out, how many do you know? You. Are if no one speaks for that community, then who's going to? If I don't speak for that community, who's going to. Are you really the only one? I'm not the only one but I'm aware of my profile. Think about it, how many out -- famous if you want to say that -- gay black men do you know? I never thought about that before. Not many. So, right. You also take it upon yourself. I felt that I had to speak for my group, my people, or nobody else was going to speak up for my people. And this wasn't an attack on Kevin hart. I'm not attacking Kevin hart at all, but nobody's perfect and I needed him and society to see sort of the error of our ways when it comes to homophobia in our society. And I remember you and I talked about -- when I saw your segment afterwards, we had a conversation. Look, it's a sensitive issue. One of the things you told me was you were getting people telling you don't come for the black man. Right. I think that in minority communities because it takes so much work for people to break through, there is this protection around our people and we're seeing it, I think, with R. Kelly, you know, and I think what you are doing which is an issue that you also brought up, I think what you are doing is really important because you are going places that are too sensitive for other people to go. Why bring R. Kelly into the situation? Because that night he also talked about that which is something I thing affects the black community. It is black girls who are being preyed upon. I saw the show when Terry crews was on and it's not that it doesn't happen throughout the larger culture, but I can speak for the black community because it is my experience. It's the same thing for homophobia in the black community. It's not there there isn't homophobia in the larger communities because when you look at the policies it's the larger community creating policy that are detrimental to people of color and the lgbt in general. The policies of the president who doesn't believe in gay rights are much more detrimental than Kevin hart at all. Of course. You feel it more if you are a black person, a black man, and you see someone like Kevin hart glossing over or making jokes calling people the F word -- Wait a minute. It's coming from what feels like family. But threatening violence is really the part that bothered me more than anything, was that he was going to beat the kid up if he thought he was gay. My god. You feel like as a person of color, our community is so targeted by bigotry and bias, you would think that our community would be an ally to another community that is oftentimes also so targeted by bigotry and bias. Right. You would think that, sunny, but it doesn't work that way because even in the gay community there's racism that we don't talk about. The gay community is not perfect when it comes to this issue either. No one is. No one is. There's a lot of looksism. Right. How did being African-American affect how you came out, and did it? Well, you're a double minority, right? You feel that there's already one strike against you. You're being discriminated against because of your color and then you try to hold the other thing in because you dent want to be discriminated against again. I also left home very quickly. I left Louisiana very quickly and came to New York City where I felt like I could be myself, in a city where there were much more people, much more diversity. I could hide a little bit. I could be who -- hide in plain sight and be who I was without having to pretend that I was somebody else, that I was a straight man. You know, one of -- when your clip went viral about Kevin hart I came into the meeting in the morning and I said I completely agree with don on this one because I believe he missed an opportunity to be an ally. If he said we've all made huge mistakes and now I want to be an ally in this community. I still haven't heard him say that. What does being an ally mean to you? It means understanding, it means having compassion. It means knowing that the same religious text and bible verses and doctrine that was used to discriminate against African-Americans and say that people shouldn't marry outside of their race are the same things they're using to discriminate against the lgbt community, against gay people. And so, I want people -- there's so few of us -- we're talking about Kevin hart hosting the oscars and when you host the oscars, you're in Oprah territory, right? It's one level under god. But when you do that, you become this other thing, and so you have people who are in your community who are looking to you for some sort of understanding. So I think that it is incumbent upon you to be an example for other people. So what did you want him to do? So to answer your question, I don't think that Kevin hart has to -- he doesn't have to go out and wave a rainbow flag. He doesn't have to March at a gay parade but he should be understanding of those issues. And there's something very profound in a simple, I'm sorry. Didn't he do that? Yes, he did, eventually he did. I'm sorry, I was wrong. And you don't have to give all of those other excuses about I'm a victim in some way, insinuating that you're a victim. You don't have to do that. Again, I spoke with Kevin. He called me and we had that conversation. That's great. And he said -- I think he got it because two days later he said I'm sorry, I apologize, and he did it in his way and I think we have to accept it. We can't bully people. If he doesn't want to be an ally for the gay community, that's his prerogative. That's exactly what I wanted to ask you. It is missing an opportunity. Everyone at this table has said things they've had to publicly apologize for and you've been in that position a number of times. Sometimes you apologize, sometimes you don't apologize and you stand by what you say. At what point do we say an apology is genuine enough and it's forgiven? Do you feel like when you apologize it's coming from a genuine place or a network is telling you to apologize? You can tell. You can tell. If I said something -- Meghan, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to do that, and you end it there, but if you say, look, I told you I'm sorry -- like, wait -- People are forgiving. Do you guys get what I'm saying? There's a difference. There is a difference, and I think you have to weigh every opportunity -- you have to weigh every situation. Sometimes you have to apologize as many times as, you know, it takes for people to understand that you're really sorry. It's always great to have you here. We love you so much. I'm love you so much. I'm with you by the way, I lost my sister last year. You lost your dad. I think of you all the time and I pray for your family. Thank you. We went to Thomas Roberts, our friend's wedding. There's a photo of us where I look not sober. Our friend Thomas Roberts, one of the best. I just want to say one last thing. You really came out at a time -- you came out earlier -- On my show on HLN. It was incredibly brave. You're still brave. We disagree on a lot of things but you're a brave man coming out and saying a lot of things. Oh thank you. I miss you on CNN and I miss

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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