Don Lemon hosted the seventh annual Native Son Awards on Friday in New York City, speaking out against all of the anti-LGBTQ legislation that has come to light this year, nationwide book bans and how companies have bowed to extremists.
He started by saying that while he may no longer work at CNN, he is still a journalist and can still share facts. He noted that more than 520 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted in states across the country in 2023 alone.
“Nearly half of those bills are aimed at our transgender and non-binary siblings. These bills range from banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth to banning cross-dressing,” Lemon said, before shifting his comments to another form of community discrimination.
“There has also been an avalanche of book bans trying to censor stories that center us,” he continued. So, let’s just be real. These book bans are rooted in anti-blackness and transphobia and queerphobia.
The former CNN this morning co-anchor explained that the “attacks” on the community are coming from all fronts, explaining that too many companies have lacked the courage to stand up to extremist demands.
“Some companies have even gone so far as to remove Pride gear and decorations from their stores,” he said. “They tie those actions to some sort of empty statement claiming they still respect our communities. … Businesses today need to be inspired to act on the side of justice and equality and never give in to the demands of a bigoted minority, because actions speak louder than words.
Lemon’s remarks on companies come shortly after Target has removed some of its LGBTQ merchandise from the 2023 Pride Collection due to backlash threatening worker safety. Target stores were in at least five states evacuated in mid-June after receiving bomb threats linked to the collection. No explosions were detected.
During his remarks, the journalist stressed that it is a strength to tell their stories on their own terms, despite people doing everything they can to silence the community.
“We have to be vigilant,” Lemon said. “We will not allow them to succeed. No matter how many bills they introduce.
We cannot and will not be abolished. Were here. We are strange. Get used to it.”