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A new marriage dilemma

By Don Lemon, CNN
updated 10:30 AM EDT, Tue August 23, 2011
Don Lemon poses on the red carpet at a fundraising event for gay youth suicide prevention.
Don Lemon poses on the red carpet at a fundraising event for gay youth suicide prevention.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • As same-sex marriage is legalized, many are asked, "When are you getting married?"
  • Don Lemon was asked about this on the red carpet by New York Magazine
  • "Not all gay people want to or should get married," Lemon said

Editor's note: Don Lemon anchors "CNN Newsroom" on weekends during prime time and is a correspondent for the network. He will guest host "The Joy Behar Show" on HLN each night this week at 10 ET. He's also the author of a memoir called "Transparent." You can follow him on Twitter, @donlemoncnn.

(CNN) -- Ah, the confirmed bachelor.

Think George Clooney, Gerard Butler or even old Hollywood's Clark Gable. We anticipate whom they'll turn up with on the red carpet at the next Hollywood premiere or which starlet will be photographed hanging from their arm as they slip out of the hottest, newest restaurant or nightclub.

Though it wasn't celebrated by larger society, it used to be that gay men once enjoyed that same freedom to play the field. But thanks to our freedom-fighting brethren, not anymore.

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I long for the good old days when gay men and women had to hide and lie about themselves and their partners by calling them "friend" or "roommate." Not at all! But as same-sex marriage is becoming legalized in places like New York and beyond, many of us suddenly have to face the reality and the question that many of our straight friends have always faced: "When are you going to settle down and get married?"

More and more these days, I hear gay couples lamenting over it in restaurants, at work and at dinner parties. My friends call me with their own similar accounts.

Lucky for them, they don't get called on the carpet over it in public. But I did, literally on a red carpet. And it lives in print and on the Internet for all to see. It was my first red carpet experience earlier this summer after coming out publicly in my book "Transparent."

It didn't go well when a New York Magazine reporter inquired about my own marriage intentions.

Here's the exchange:

So there we were, chatting with newly out CNN anchor Don Lemon at Monday's Trevor Live event, and just like annoying Aunt Sadie, we asked if he and his partner of four years are planning on tying the knot. After a long, awkward pause, Lemon laughed and said, "Listen, I am not planning on getting married. I'm not planning on not getting married." Another pause. "You mean, you're asking me if I'm planning on getting married in the near future?"

Yes, that's what we're asking, we pressed. "Since I was a kid I've always wanted to get married. And I think that now that, you know, there is a possibility for me to get married, I think that, yeah, one day I would like to get married, and maybe soon," Lemon said. "I have no immediate plans, but I say why not? I am in a very happy, very solid relationship, so sure, one day I'd like to get married, and I might do it."

Obviously Lemon was not comfortable talking about this, but just like Aunt Sadie never takes the hint, we blustered on with questions about this hypothetical wedding. When our conversation ended and Lemon was walking away, we overheard him say to his rep, "Did I dance around that enough?"

I warned you it didn't go well.

I wasn't ready for that question from a persistent reporter. Nor am I ready for it from family members, friends, neighbors or random people who approach me in public.

Honestly, I hadn't pondered marriage since I came to terms with my sexuality almost two decades ago.

But it really hit home for me when to my and my boyfriend's surprise The New York Observer named me a 2011 media power bachelor and I got the news in an e-mail that my colleague Joy Behar had tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend, Steve Janowitz. While the power bachelor thing was fun, the Joy thing got me thinking. I haven't had the opportunity to ask her directly why she decided to get married after 29 years of unwedded bliss.

Maybe it had something to do with her new grandson and her public support of gay marriage. Perhaps New York's new marriage law had greased the skids for Ms. Behar-Janowitz. Whatever her reasons, Joy's last tweet before running off with Steve was a sign for me. It simply reads, "gone fishing."

So just as I did when I came out publicly this summer, I'll get ahead of all those "fishing" for an answer about my marriage plans. While I respect the gay couples who have or are planning on tying the knot soon, the truth is, just like straight people, not all gay people want to or should get married.

But perhaps the best answer and the one closest to my own comes from a personal quote on the website IMDB from another confirmed bachelor, Leonardo DiCaprio.

"People always like to make up stories. I am not planning on getting married. Then again, I might wake up tomorrow and decide to get married!"

Thanks Leo.

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