Mister Rogers Told Gay Costar Officer Clemmons to Stay in the Closet While on the Show

Francois Clemmons is known by many as Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Over the years, Fred Rogers, i.e. Mister Rigers, became his mentor, father figure, and ultimately “the spiritual love of my life,” according to People magazine.

Still, it wasn’t always cherry pie. As he writes in his new memoir, Officer Clemmons, one day he was called into Fred’s office at the studio.

Francois Clemmons’ book: Officer Clemmons

“’Someone has informed us that you were seen at the local gay bar downtown,'” he remembers Fred asking him. “‘Now, I want you to know, Franc, that if you’re gay, it doesn’t matter to me at all. Whatever you say and do is fine with me, but if you’re going to be on the show as an important member of the Neighborhoodyou can’t be out as gay.'”

“I could have his friendship and fatherly love and relationship forever,” Francois told People. “But I could have the job only if I stayed in the closet.”

“‘You must do this Francois,’ he told me, ‘because it threatens my dream,’” he remembers Fred saying.

“I was destroyed,” Francois told People. “The man who was killing me had also saved me. He was my executioner and deliverer. But, at the same time, I knew that he would know how to comfort me. I didn’t have another mother or father to comfort me. I had no one to go and be a boy with. I was just vulnerable. He got in a few slaps, some tough love, a good spanking. But I was not kicked out of the family.”

Wow. What a revelation. Read more of his interview at People.