Don Lemon is over the moon about his engagement to Tim Malone, but the CNN host is still getting used to his new title.
“It’s weird to say ‘fiancé,’ but my fiancé is a really great guy. He’s really sweet,” Lemon, 53, told Us Weekly exclusively at Safe Horizon’s 24th Champion Awards at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on Tuesday, April 9. “He was so vulnerable when he was asking me [to marry him]. I didn’t think it was real.”
But when Malone got down on one knee, the journalist immediately realized what was happening.
“His entire body was shaking, and he said, ‘I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ And I said, ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh, are you serious? This is real!’ And I saw the box and I said, ‘All right,’” Lemon told Us. “It’s been an amazing experience.”
Now that the couple are engaged, the Emmy winner admitted that their relationship feels a bit different.
“It feels real. Not that it didn’t feel real before,” explained Lemon, who came out as gay in his 2011 memoir Transparent. “I grew up thinking that … my relationships would never be public, let alone get married, and now I can get legally married. My relationship is public and I have started thinking about children. So I’m a real late bloomer! A true late bloomer.”
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native told Us that he believes he will “be a better dad now that I’m older” — even though “in a perfect world” he would have started a family in his 30s.
But for now, Lemon and Malone have a wedding to plan, though they are not in a rush.
“Everyone’s been asking me when I’m going to get married. I don’t know!” the news anchor told Us. “I’m just relishing and enjoying the bliss of engagement. … I haven’t thought about it, probably on a beach somewhere, very casual, barefoot.”
Lemon is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and was honored at Tuesday’s event, which highlighted the social services that Safe Horizon provides for other victims.
With reporting by Lexi Ciccone