Francois Clemmons, better known as Officer Clemmons in the children’s television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, ” said television star Fred Rogers told him not to be gay and to marry a woman because if he didn’t, it would threaten his dream. ‘
Clemmons, 75, described Rogers as both “my executioner and my delivery man” in his next memoir “Officer Clemmons,” when he remembered the children’s television presenter telling him he couldn’t be a “Neighborhood member” if he was openly gay.
The artist said that Rogers confronted him about his sexuality in his studio one day during the filming of the show.
“Frank, you have talents and gifts that set you apart and above the crowd,” Clemmons told Rogers, according to People magazine.
François Clemmons (left), better known as Officer Clemmons in the children’s television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ”, said that television star Fred Rogers (right) had told him not to be gay and marry a woman because if he didn’t, it “would threaten his dream”.
“Someone informed us that you were seen at the local downtown gay bar. Now, I want you to know, Frank, that if you’re gay, I don’t care at all. Whatever you say and do, it’s fine with me, but if you want to be on the show as an important member of the neighborhood, you can’t be gay.
Clemmons told People magazine that he had burst into tears at Rogers’ reaction – that he had come to see him as a father figure.
“I could have his friendship, his fatherly love and his relationship forever. But I could only have this job if I stayed in the closet, ”said Clemmons.
“I was destroyed. The man who killed me also saved me. He was my executioner and my delivery boy, ”said Clemmons.
“But, at the same time, I knew he could comfort me. I had no other mother or father to comfort me. I had no one to go with and be a boy with. I was just vulnerable. He had a few slaps, a hard love, a good spanking. But I was not expelled from the family. “
Rogers then reportedly said, “The world doesn’t really want to know who you’re sleeping with – especially if it’s a man. You can have it all if you can keep this part away from the spotlight. “
Clemmons and Rogers on ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ‘. Clemmons 75, describes Rogers as both “my executioner and my delivery man” in his next memoirs
Rogers, who died in 2003, also reportedly told Clemens that he should marry a woman
Clemmons’ brief ‘Clemmons Officer’ comes out on May 5
Rogers said Clemmons posing as gay would “threaten” his dreams for the show, Clemmons added.
“You have to do this François because it threatens my dream,” said Rogers.
He is also said to have told Clemens that he had to marry a woman to keep the disguise.
“By the time I left her office, I had decided to marry La-Tanya Mae Sheridan,” Clemmons wrote in her memoirs.
“At the wedding reception, Fred and [his wife] Joanne approached me and my new wife. It was like Fred and I were sealing some kind of secret market.
Clemmons divorced Sheridan in 1974 and began living as an openly gay man.
He told People magazine that he had no resentment towards his mentor Rogers.
“I was counting on the fact that it was his dream. He had worked so hard for it. I knew that “Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood” was his whole life, “he said.
Clemmons was a regular on American television for 25 years as a Clemmons officer in the popular children’s show from 1968 to 1993.
The show ceased broadcasting in 2001 and Rogers died two years later of stomach cancer.