AceShowbiz - Don Lemon has declared he is "still a journalist." The ousted CNN host, 57, who was fired from the network in April following a 17-year stint at the network as part of an apparent shake-up of its image as a liberal station, made the statement as he presented the 7th annual Native Son Awards at the IAC building in New York.
Don, who came out as gay in his 2011 memoir "Transparent", told the crowd of black gay and queer men, "I may not be on CNN, but I'm still a journalist."
He then addressed legislative bills targeting the LGBTQ community, hitting out, "In 2023, there have already been over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced in state legislatures across the country," he said. "Nearly half of those bills target our transgender and non-binary siblings."
Don also attacked corporations he said "lacked the courage to stand up against extremist demands to discriminate against us" that are "removing Pride gear and decorations from their stores." He said, "And to think they pair those actions with some type of empty statement claiming they still respect our communities."
Don also used his time as host to highlight he was one of the first Native Son Awards recipients back in 2016, adding, "I don't have a job now, so as soon as I'm done here, I’m going to have many drinks and we're going to celebrate."
Among the night's honorees were Jordan E Cooper, Chester Algernal Gordon, Elegance Bratton, James Cole Jr, Nicco Annan, Bishop O. C. Allen, Rashad Burgess, Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis, with the Native Son Awards aiming to highlight the "achievements of Black gay and queer men who are leaders in their respective industries."
Since he was ousted from CNN, Don has maintained a relatively low profile, and told Page Six he was planning to "enjoy my summer, spend it on the beach and have a great time… that's it!"
Don's ousting was widely seen as part of a move by network boss Chris Licht's campaign to shake up the network's liberal-leaning image and reinvent it as a down-the-middle and facts-first news organization.
It has been reported Don's tensions with Chris, 51, dated back at least to last autumn, when the outlet said a wardrobe dispute erupted during a rehearsal. The Atlantic said in early November 2022, during a final rehearsal before the launch of "CNN This Morning", Lemon baffled producers by arriving back on set from a break wearing a white jacket with fur collar over a turtleneck.
Chris is said to have asked in the control room, "What the f**k is he wearing?", according to a first-hand account from Atlantic staff writer Tim Alberta, who was there working on a lengthy profile of the boss. A junior producer was said to have reluctantly relayed Chris' concern through Don's earpiece, which apparently provoked a "miffed" look from the CNN host as he was allegedly told, "Don, uhh, we're not too crazy about the jacket in here."