The newsman started off Monday’s show by addressing his experiences with having an intersectional black and gay identity.
“As black gay men, we carry the racism part, and we carry the gay part,” he said on the Facebook Watch Series. “We’re already a class of people who have been discriminated against,” he said.
Lemon and the “Red Table Talk” trio, which includes Pinkett Smith’s daughter Willow Smith and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, also discussed societal stereotypes of black men and black male masculinity, and the difficulty many people experience coming out.
Pinkett Smith asked the CNN anchor about his initial reaction to hearing reports that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and openly gay, was attacked in Chicago last month, reportedly by two men who had yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.
“My initial reaction was sadness,” Lemon said. “I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t like that it happened to him.” He added that he called Smollett shortly after.
Lemon then expressed his concern for the actor’s “well-being” while the police investigation is underway.
“On top of being ― one, he has to deal with discrimination as a black man, and then on top of that he has to be gay ― and he’s out,” he said. “And then fame. And fame is not natural. I don’t think people were meant to be famous.”
“We need to speak up for the young black people, especially young black men, kids, in the LGBT community,” Lemon said at the time.
Lemon told the co-hosts that he came out as gay to his mother when he was 30, after he’d broken up with a boyfriend.
“And it came out on the phone and she was very quiet ― but very accepting,” he said as he held back tears. “She said, ‘You’re my son. I’m going to love you no matter what. I’m your mom. I’m always going to love you.’ That meant the world to me ...”
Watch the full “Red Table Talk” interview here.