December 5, 2023


Don Lemon, renowned journalist and former CNN anchor, recently hosted the seventh annual Native Son Awards in New York City. During his impassioned speech, Lemon shed light on the alarming rise of anti-LGBTQ legislation, nationwide book bans, and corporate capitulation to extremist demands. This blog post will delve into Lemon’s remarks, highlighting the concerning statistics, the impact of book bans, and the importance of corporations standing up for justice and equality.

The Alarming Rise of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation:

Don Lemon commenced his speech by sharing an alarming fact: over 520 anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation have been introduced in various states across the United States in 2023 alone. Nearly half of these bills specifically target transgender and nonbinary individuals, seeking to restrict their rights and freedoms. Examples range from prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth to banning drag performances. This surge in legislation underscores the urgent need for advocacy and protection of LGBTQ rights.

Nationwide Book Bans and Their Motivations:

Lemon highlighted another form of discrimination targeting the LGBTQ community – an avalanche of book bans aimed at censoring stories that center around their experiences. He emphasized that these book bans are rooted in anti-Blackness, transphobia, and queerphobia. By silencing and erasing LGBTQ voices, these bans perpetuate harmful stereotypes and hinder progress toward inclusivity and understanding.

Corporate Complicity and Courage:

Don Lemon criticized corporations that have succumbed to extremist demands, compromising the rights and visibility of the LGBTQ community. He pointed out instances where companies have removed Pride gear and decorations from their stores, accompanied by empty statements claiming continued respect for the community. Such actions represent a lack of courage and a failure to stand up for justice and equality. Lemon urged corporations to act on the side of justice, never conceding to the demands of a bigoted minority, as actions speak louder than words.

Target’s Controversial Decision and its Consequences:

The discussion on corporate complicity was exemplified by Target’s recent removal of certain LGBTQ merchandise from its 2023 Pride collection. The decision was prompted by backlash and bomb threats that jeopardized the safety of Target employees. Lemon highlighted that actions like these not only hinder progress but also create an environment of fear and intimidation. Despite the lack of explosions, the incident underscores the urgency of addressing the intolerance and hate faced by the LGBTQ community.

The Power of Telling Our Stories:

Amidst these challenges, Don Lemon emphasized the importance of the LGBTQ community reclaiming their narratives and sharing their stories on their own terms. Despite concerted efforts to silence their voices, Lemon urged vigilance and resilience. He reiterated that the community will not be legislated out of existence and called for a wider acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. His powerful closing statement, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it,” encapsulated the spirit of perseverance and determination.


Don Lemon’s speech at the Native Son Awards shed light on the growing threat posed by anti-LGBTQ legislation, nationwide book bans, and corporate extremism. Lemon’s call to action urges the LGBTQ community and allies to unite, advocate for justice and equality, and ensure that their stories are heard. It is a reminder that progress is not guaranteed, and the fight for acceptance and inclusion continues. By understanding and addressing these issues, society can work towards a more equitable and compassionate future.

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