For the last three years, CNN viewers have counted on Don Lemon to bring the raw, honest, and unfiltered truth about the goings-on at Trump’s White House. But beyond the day to day headlines he covers on his nightly news show, the well-known television journalist is an advocate for LGBTQ issues, often spotlighting injustice and inequality experienced by the community. 

For his dedication to the cause, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, has chosen to honor the Emmy-winning anchor during the organization’s seventh annual Time to THRIVE Conference.

“When Don Lemon came out in 2011, he brought inspiration and hope to LGBTQ youth across the country. As one of the most recognizable people on television today, he has used that profile to raise issues of inequality, held public officials accountable for their actions and shared powerful stories of the LGBTQ community — including reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando,” Ellen Kahn, HRC’s Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships told ESSENCE of the organization’s decision to honor Lemon.

Don Lemon has hosted CNN tonight since 2014. In this position, he has elevated LGBTQ issues on a national stage.
Don Lemon has hosted CNN tonight since 2014. In this position, he has elevated LGBTQ issues on a national stage. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

Kahn also added, “Next month, he will take the HRC stage to speak about the power of visibility and using your platform for good to hundreds of youth-serving professionals who interact with LGBTQ youth every day. We are thrilled to honor him at this momentous event.”  

Educators, mental health providers, and religious leaders will be among those attending this year’s THRIVE Conference which takes place Feb. 14-16 in Washington, D.C. The goal of the weekend is to engage youth-serving professionals and better equip them with the tools to “create spaces in which LGBTQ youth are affirmed, supported and have the ability to thrive.” An estimated 100 LGBTQ-identifying youth are also expected to attend.

HRC President Alphonso David noted that Lemon was a natural choice for the honor given his ability to inspire LGBTQ young people across the country. 

“His tenacious reporting and dedication to telling stories that matter, as well as his commitment to holding politicians and public officials accountable, are invaluable qualities in today’s news cycle,” David added.

In a statement to ESSENCE, Lemon expressed appreciation for the recognition. “I am so grateful for HRC and their amazing work with the LGBTQ community. They inspire me every day to do my very best and live my truth — which is my hope for everyone,” Lemon said. ” It is with humility and gratitude that I receive this award. Thank you HRC!”

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