Jerrod Carmichael comes out as gay in an HBO special about his family’s secrets

A man in a yellow puffer jacket and a baseball cap smiles broadly
Jerrod Carmichael, seen in 2019, has a big reveal in his new HBO comedy special.
(Willy Sanjuan / Invision / Associated Press)

Jerrod Carmichael has a big reveal coming in his new comedy special, which debuts this evening on HBO: He’s gay.

The comedian, who will host “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, shares the news about his sexuality in a serious moment that comes after a 23-minute buildup about all the secrets his family has kept over the years. The tales of hidden truths included the story of his dad getting caught cheating on his wife.

“After that was out in the open, I was left alone feeling like a liar because I had a secret,” the 34-year-old says in “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel.” “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.”


Carmichael’s revelation is met first with a long silence, then with a big round of applause. Referring to the audience’s acceptance, he jokes: “My ego kind of wants to rebel against it.”

Jerrod Carmichael’s edgy, semiautobiographical NBC sitcom, “The Carmichael Show,” tackles topical issues through the unfiltered conversations of his TV family and minces no words about the African American perspective on hot-button issues such as the N-word, assisted suicide, depression and the Bill Cosby scandal.

June 8, 2017

The comic — who started his stand-up career at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood — said he already came out to his friends. Then he told a few ribald jokes to break any tension.

“I didn’t think I’d ever, ever come out,” he says. “At many points in my life I thought I’d rather die than confront the truth of that. ... Some people, it changes their perception of me.”

Carmichael, who sits throughout his performance, says he’s “from an environment where you’re kind of raised to be a man, whatever that means. They don’t expect gay babies.” And again, he then cracks another joke that can’t be reprinted here.

“I’m from the hood,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll be in the shower, like ... oh, I’m really gay. ... It’s shocking to me too!”

The former star of NBC’s “The Carmichael Show” then continues on with a provocative look at sex, love, race, masculinity and family.


“Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel” premieres at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Friday on HBO and HBO Max, where it will be available on demand.