It might not be considered breaking news, but the handsome CNN Tonight host Don Lemon is off the market. In fact, the cable news fixture has spent the last two years planning a wedding with his long-term partner Tim Malone. But for years, there were rumors that Don Lemon and actress Stephanie Ortiz were married. We have the facts on his dating history. Get the real story here, and find out when Malone will officially say yes to being Don Lemon’s husband.
Don Lemon Has Been Working At CNN Since 2006
Don Lemon, 55, joined CNN in 2006. He’s hosted CNN Tonight since 2014. Prior to his work at the cable news channel, he was a correspondent for NBC News, The Today Show, and NBC Nightly News. He was also a co-anchor for NBC5 in Chicago, where he earned three local Emmys for his reporting.
Lemon has delivered some of the biggest breaking news stories of the last decade, including the Orlando shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016, the Charleston church shooting in 2015, the George Zimmerman trial of 2013, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
This week, Lemon announced that he and fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo will launch The Handoff. The unscripted podcast will expand on the lively banter that the two hosts share in the minutes between CNN Tonight and Cuomo Prime Time.
He Was Rumored To Have Been A Husband To Stephanie Ortiz
Lemon has been out and proud for years. Nevertheless, he’s been plagued by a rumor that he was married to a woman in the past.
Various gossip sites have mentioned that he was once quietly married to actress Stephanie Ortiz. However, not a single mention of this juicy tidbit is ever linked to an official source. We have no evidence that this story is true, and neither Lemon nor Ortiz has ever gone on the record to address it.
We’ve chalked it up to being a baseless claim. But even if it was a well-hidden secret, Lemon is now living in his truth. With the release of his 2011 memoir, Transparent, he opened up to the world about his sexuality.
Ahead of his memoir’s release, Lemon told the New York Times that he originally set out to write an inspirational book. Instead, he shifted his message and released the memoir.
“It was supposed to be a little pamphlet,” said Lemon. “You know: say your prayers; have a good, hearty handshake; say good morning to your boss.”
But as he began writing, he couldn’t help but recall how certain personal experiences had shaped him as an adult. Editors gave him the freedom to decide whether he’d move forward and make those facts public knowledge.
“As I started to read it back, I said, no, leave it,” he said. “I abhor hypocrisy. I think if you’re going to be in the business of news, and telling people the truth, of trying to shed light in dark places, then you’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to have the same rules for yourself as you do for everyone else.”
“I think it would be great if everybody could be out,” Lemon continued. “But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone.”
Don Lemon Felt ‘Scared’ About Coming Out In 2011
It’s not that Lemon was eager to make big news of his sexual orientation. Before the release of Transparent, there was a tiny number of openly gay news anchors. Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts of MSNBC were the most prominent at the time.
Lemon told People in June 2020 that coming out to his mother, Katherine Clark, was fraught with tension and emotion. According to the anchor, he had called her in the 1990s after breaking up with a boyfriend. He described the event as “one of those scenes.”
“She asked me what kind of relationship we had, and I told her, ‘He was my lover,’” Lemon revealed. “That’s when I started crying.”
“She was okay with it for a while,” he continued. “But as I became stronger, she became weaker.”
Lemon says Clark was concerned about her son’s safety and well-being. She also bemoaned the missed opportunity to be a grandmother. Fortunately, she eventually came around.
“She started to learn about my friends and my life, and she really started to accept it,” he said. “She realized that all [her fears] weren’t true, and she was building that up in her head.”
When Lemon was ready to come out to the public years later, the jitters returned.
“I’m scared,” he told the New York Times just before his book hit the shelves. “I’m talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.”
But at the end of the day, Lemon mustered the courage to do what felt right. “I think if I had seen more people like me who are out and proud, it wouldn’t have taken me 45 years to say it,” he said. “To walk in the truth.”
Listen to Lemon elaborate on his decision to come out in this interview with Dr. Drew Pinsky:
Tim Malone Became The Perfect Partner For Don Lemon
If you follow Lemon on Instagram, you know that his life with Tim Malone is practically a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.
“We sometimes joke about it with our friends — how heteronormative we are,” Lemon told Gay City News. “We like to watch football, we go ice skating, we cook dinner, we do puzzles.”
Malone, a New York real estate agent, first met Lemon in 2015 at a Hamptons hot spot. The couple started dating the following year and went Instagram official in April 2017. By 2018, they engaged in the ultimate act of PDA by sharing a New Year’s kiss live on CNN.
On April 6, 2019, Malone surprised Lemon by popping the question. Ever the family man, he enlisted their fur babies—pups Boomer and Barkley—to help:
Lemon and Malone are well aware of the fact that they’re an unlikely match on paper. However, they refuse to let superficial differences stand in the way of their love.
“As a couple, I think we have a pretty interesting story, just in terms of our age difference,” said Malone, who is 18 years Lemon’s junior. “We have different backgrounds, different racial backgrounds… There were a lot of questions when we started dating of what was going to be the issue, and honestly, the fact that we were gay was, like, last on the list.”
Malone’s biggest concern was hitching himself to a public figure and ensuring that his partner was ready for a commitment.
Lemon assuaged his boyfriend’s fears by making a public declaration as he rang in 2017 on CNN.
“I need a little bit more balance in work/life,” he declared. “I may be open to a relationship this year.” He then proclaimed that he had found love before sharing a public kiss with Malone.
Are Don Lemon And Tim Malone Married?
It’s been over two years since Lemon said yes to Malone, but there’s no word on an official wedding date. Perhaps the pandemic slowed things down? Whatever the reason, Lemon’s Instagram doesn’t seem to suggest that either is getting cold feet.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this moment of bliss. And then, whenever we get married, we get married,” Lemon told People in 2019. “The advice I get from most people is: Don’t become obsessed with the ceremony or wedding planning—just enjoy it.”
One thing we know is that Lemon isn’t scared to be labeled a groomzilla. When Chris Cuomo joked that Liberace would be embarrassed by the size of his engagement ring, Lemon replied, “If I’m gonna get married, then I want some bling, and who cares? It’s my finger and it’s my marriage.”