When Don Lemon began his CNN interview with three young African American members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, he had no idea the turn it would take. He treated his guests gently and with respect, first allowing them to say why they stand behind their Bishop Eddie Long in the face of recent law suits alleging unwanted sexual conduct with young Church members. They spoke of their duty to support their spiritual leader, referring to that "something" about the Bishop you "just respect."
After Mr. Lemon played a clip of the attorney describing the Bishop's alleged inappropriate conduct with one of the plaintiffs and turned to his young guests, their silence was deafening. What they said next was sadly unconvincing. One had a "feeling" those were not the Bishop's intentions. And the only woman on the panel said that when she "looks at pedophiles," she really doesn't see him as one.
It was subtle, but something in Mr. Lemon changed, stood up inside him. He explained that what the attorney was describing is how it works. And young victims are assured that what is happening doesn't make them gay. He pointed out that four young men came up with the same story, at least one not even knowing the others. How did they know the buzz words? And then he admitted that he had been the victim of an older pedophile when he was young, something he didn't even tell his mother until he was 30 years old. He encouraged his guests to stand by their Bishop but have an open mind.
Mr. Lemon deserves our respect and support for courageously choosing to reveal his own painful story. How very few role models we have in our society for "telling," especially when it is the abuser who is perceived to have, or actually does have, the power in such relationships. So far, I have seen nothing in the media to suggest that Mr. Lemon's story is being challenged. No one has suggested that he is lying about his past. He changed the game by being a successful survivor with a powerful voice of his own. So he has the great luxury of being believed.
The Bishop made a dramatic much-hyped appearance Sunday at his mega-church with the world watching and the huge crowd cheering his every breath. He never actually denied the allegations, stating that he was under attack, and felt like David against Goliath. Goliath later told his story late at night in the dark parking lot of a 24 hour store.