The picture on the right is CNN's Don Lemon being auctioned off this weekend for $1,050 at the NLGJA (National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association) conference for charity. He delivered the keynote speech at the Journalists' convention, along with Ann Curry.
It's not a coincidence that Don Lemon has recently been discussed in the LGBT blogosphere for his kerfuffle with a transsexual activist at the NAACP LGBT forum, and his clueless interview with trans entertainment figures on The Joy Behar Show, and then appears at a conference for gay and lesbian journalists. Both Lemon and the NLGJA can't seem to figure out all those letters. Don't get me wrong, I have high regard for Lemon's courageous coming out, and for NLGJA's role in fostering LGB(t) journalism. But I'm not out of line for pointing up that trans people could use a little acknowledgement and encouragement, as the most marginalized minority within the LGBT community.
I noted with interest Monica Roberts' recent TransGriot post on Mr. Lemon, Yo Don, We Need To Talk - Again. Ms. Roberts, a long-time writer, award winning trans activist, lecturer, speaker, native Houstonian and Texan, is one of the trans community's longest-running and outspoken voices, and she has never been shy when it comes to pointing out injustice.
She explicitly rebutted Mr. Lemon's contention that people aren't ready for interviews of trans people beyond "how does it feel to shave?" and "did you have your surgery yet?"
"And the fact that you're one of the few high profile out African American gay males makes this slowly ossifying impression one that concerns me as a fellow African American.
You may think America is at a Trans 101 level of discussion but I submit we're actually at Trans 201 or 202 level. Elements of the African American community are playing catch up to get to that 201 level.
I and other transpeople of all ethnicities believe it's past time for Americans to get past their fixation on our genitalia, skip the trans makeup and trans shaving photo ops and get busy discussing our lives and how the anti-trans attitudes, transphobia, and people actively working to oppress us negatively impact them."
I'm glad that Mr. Lemon is getting well-deserved recognition in the LGBT community. He is in a position to do a lot of good on many of our community's issues. His recent coming out was an act of courage. I know he's new to all this. But it's time for him to get with some trans community advocates and study up on his community. It's also time for the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists' Association to move into the 21st century and find an inclusive name.