Comedian Jerrod Carmichael has officially come out as gay in his latest HBO comedy special, “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel,” which premieres on April 1.
Toward the beginning of his set, which was performed in February at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, Carmichael told a story about the men in his family having a history of cheating.
“When you’re that family, you learn not to say s—,” he told the audience. He then began to explain how he had previously caught his own dad cheating. That revelation made him want to confront his own secrets.
“That was out in the open, and once that was done, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret,” he said. “One that I kept from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you — all of you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I’m gay.”
His confession was met with a round of applause from the audience, which he thanked them for.
“I’m accepting the love, I really appreciate the love. My ego wants to rebel against it,” he said. “It feels like I didn’t earn it… I rebelled against it my whole life. I thought I’d never, ever come out. 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 some people’s perceptions of me. I can’t control that.”
He went on to explain that his coming out to friends and family had improved his relationship with some people, while putting a strain on his relationships with others — including his mother, Cynthia.
“I remember on the call, last time I talked about being gay with my mom, she said, ‘I can’t go against Jesus,’” he said. “And I get it. She’s doing the best she can…I think she’s trying to accept it. Part of me knows she’s at home trying to pray the gay away.”
Coming out has also redefined his own connection to religion, which he admitted he is still working through. However, he added: “As much as she believes in God, I believe in personal growth and feeling free, and I do feel freer.”
This, however, is not the first or only time Carmichael has brought up his sexuality publicly. In a 2019 HBO special called “Home Videos,” he had a frank conversation with his mother, Cynthia, about her husband’s affair. Carmichael asked, if she had ever been attracted to women.
When she said she had not, Carmichael revealed, “I’ve hooked up with dudes before.” She replied, “Well, OK, that’s your option. I like men.”
“Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel” premieres on HBO April 1 at 9 p.m. ET, and it will also be available to stream on HBO Max.