Recorded in February at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, Rothaniel weaves stories into the Carmichael family’s history through its exit process. Carmichael talks about the weight of keeping this secret throughout his life and career, and how going out changed his relationships with his friends and family for better and worse.
After telling a story about his father being caught cheating, Carmichael takes a knock and looks at his audience. “After that came out in the open, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I have a secret,” he says. “OhI would not have left it from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you. Professionally and personally. The secret is that I’m gay.”
After a long silence, the audience applauded for Carmichael’s relief. “I accept love, I really appreciate love. My ego wants to rebel against it.” He later adds, “I’ve rebelled against it all my life. I thought I’d never get out. At many points I thought I’d rather die than face the truth of it, to actually tell people. Because I know it changes some people’s perceptions of me. I can’t control that.”
Born in North Carolina, 34-year-old Carmichael has popped up in the stand-up comedy world in Los Angeles. He also created the wonderful but canceled comedy series “The Carmichael Show,” which ran for three seasons on NBC, and was topical and semi-autobiographical.
at 2019 HBO Special “Home Video” RThe comedian spoke about his sexual experiences with men during a conversation with his mother when he said, “I’ve reached out to men before.” But in “Ruthaniel,” Carmichael admits that his relationship with his mother has been precarious since he came to her, but is hopeful for the future. “As much as you believe in God, I believe in personal growth and a sense of freedom,” he says. “And I feel more free.”
“Rothaniel” premieres Friday, April 1 at 9PM ET on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.