Francois Clemmons – Episode 209

Francois_Clemmons, Officer_Clemmons, Mister_Rogers_Neighborhood

Celebrate Pride with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood star Francois Clemmons.

These are uncertain times. Riots in the streets, a pandemic going on, and a general sense that the world is changing–and not for the better.

It is my hope that Pride month this year will be a beacon of light in the dark days that are upon us. Because it reminds us that the world has changed for the better in many ways.  I want Pride in 2020 to be a reminder that we have come too far to give up now.

Someone who has come very far with his own self-acceptance and love is Dr. Francois Clemmons. Most will remember him as Officer Clemmons, the African-American policeman on Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

You may remember that Rogers broke racial barriers with Francois, especially during the landmark episode where Fred invited France to dip his toe into a kiddie pool with him. At the time, public pools were segregated.

But Dr. Clemmons had another secret: He was gay. He lived a closeted lifestyle for many years in order to protect his career. Now, Francois is speaking out about his journey in a book, entitled simply, Officer Clemmons.

And if I had to take away one thing from reading his beautiful book, it’s this–If there’s anyone out there carrying the baton for Fred Rogers, it’s Francois Clemmons.

I had the distinct pleasure to talk with Dr. Clemmons about his life, specifically about the journey to his truth.

Now, I’ve never felt it necessary to speak my –own truth on this show. It’s just one part of myself. But Those of you who listen closely could understand. But I do not believe I’ve ever said those two little words on this show before. But I said them to Francois–to speak so openly about myself with a man I have admired for many years is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will be moved. But mostly, I hope you’ll be distracted from the gloom and doom outside your door.

Stay safe, keep a positive attitude, and just show one another love.

Come with me now, to Doctor Clemmons’ Neighborhood.