EMPIRE’s Jussie Smollett: I’ve Never Been In The Closet
EMPIRE’S Jussie Smollett finally spoke about his sexuality with Ellen DeGeneres this morning since questions started buzzing once his character Jamal publicly came out as gay on the hit series.
In a recent interview, Smollett’s co-star Malik Yoba inadvertently fanned the flames to the gay rumor fire by saying,”Jussie, he is gay, and he’s very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship.”
After being accused of Outing the young star, he later backtracked the statement with this: “I was misquoted in the article. My reference to Jussie was only about his character and storyline on Empire.”
In the aftermath, Smollett refused to comment, only stating, “I am not willing to confirm or deny anything.”
Now it appears that he’s ready to discuss it.
The key quote from his discussion with Ellen was, “There’s Never Been A Closet That I’ve Been In.”
That statement was a clear as day to me. I totally understood it. He’s talking about being Discreet.
Hell, I even created two websites with that quote as the Mission Statements (you’re on one of those websites right now).
Sexuality doesn’t have to be your single defining trait, especially homosexuality.
Let me digress with an anecdote:
At work (my day job), a few of my current clients are feminine black gay men. They don’t know that I’m also gay, but not because I’ve denied it. They just haven’t asked. They assume I’m straight. Oh sure, they’ve gone on occasional fishing expeditions where they throw out general questions to see what my response would be. But they still haven’t asked the questions.
A few weeks ago we were talking about EMPIRE and our likes/dislikes about the show [Editor’s Note: Nick Delmacy and Ocky Williams have yet to watch the show past the first episode]. Then our discussion got to Jussie Smollett. I (jokingly) said that Jussie must be straight since he’s never gone on record otherwise….they scoffed and laughed at me and said he’s already Out, they’ve seen him at gay clubs, parties, etc.
This is true, though. We’ve always known Jussie was “family.” But just because straight people were out of the loop, it makes the news. Even now in the comments sections of posts with this story straight people are saying, “he said there’s never been a closet, that means he’s NOT gay. He’s being vague to not offend anyone.”
This implies that ALL gay people have been or currently are in a Closet at some point in their lives.
So that begs the question, if you live your life to the fullest and don’t hide anything, are you really “Closeted” just because some heterosexual people don’t know about your sexuality?
Are you closeted if a gay person doesn’t know about your sexuality?
Are you closeted if your co-workers don’t know?
Are you closeted if your family doesn’t know?
Who defines what makes a person “closeted” and how many people need to know before you are out of it?
Some people would respond that Heterosexuals don’t keep any aspect of their sexuality private. They make it very clear in their casual conversations and interactions with others that they are attracted to the opposite sex.
So that must mean that a gay person who doesn’t do the same, must be hiding it. He/She must be closeted.
Going back to the feminine black gay work clients that I have, am I “closeted” to them because I choose not to volunteer information about my own sexuality? I’m not lying to them or denying outright questions.
Or do “lies by omission” count as deception? If I keep my responses about my sexuality to a group of gossip loving black gay men vague and ambiguous, am I closeted?
To be honest, all of the above questions are rhetorical.
I agree with Jussie Smollett, being private about your sexuality doesn’t mean that you were hiding anything.
There are many people who prefer to have “gay” be the first adjective used to describe them, and that’s fine. Sex and Sexuality may be very important to them, over anything else.
For those of us who prefer to be defined by our other traits and accomplishments, we accept that our sexuality is a part of who we are, but it doesn’t DEFINE who we are.
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