Jerrod Carmichael came out as gay in his newest HBO comedy special Rothaniel, which premiered on Friday, April 1st.
During Carmichael’s funny, vulnerable and brilliant special, that was taped in February at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Manhattan, he opened up about how this secret has deeply affected his life.
After telling a story about realizing his father had been cheating on his mother for years, Carmichael takes a beat and looks out at his audience. “After that was out in the open, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret,” he says. “One that I kept from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I’m gay.”
He then continued, after a pausing to collect himself, amid a few “we love yous” from the audience:
“That’s really sweet. I really appreciate that. It means a lot, it means a lot. And I’m accepting the love. I really appreciate the love… I rebelled against it my whole life. I never thought I’d come out. I didn’t think I’d ever, ever, every come out. Probably at many points I thought I’d rather die than confront the truth of that, to actually say it to people. Because I know it changes people’s — some people — it changes their perception of me. I can’t control that.”
“I’m from an environment where I was kind of raised to be a man — whatever that means,” he says, before joking, “They don’t expect gay babies. You don’t see old ladies looking at a toddler, being like, ‘Oh, look at his cheeks. I bet he’s gonna be a top. Get that baby some PreP now.'”
This is the first time he’s openly admitted to being gay but not the first time he’s told the word, he’s been with men.
In his 2019 HBO special “Home Video,” the comedian talked about his sexual experiences with men during a conversation with his mother when he said, “I’ve hooked up with dudes before.” In “Rothaniel,” however, Carmichael admits his relationship with his mother has been more fraught since he came out to her, but he has hope for the future. “As much as she believes in God, I believe in personal growth and feeling free,” he says. “And I do feel freer.”
You can stream Rothaniel premieres on HBO and HBO Max.