"If You Were Gay," from the musical "Avenue Q"
Lindsay Lohan has come out of the closet (of sorts) seen publicly cavorting but not whoring around about her extremely close gal pal Samatha Ronson. No one appears to be giving her shit about it. Perhaps because between the crazy jailbird daddy, the stage mommy, the papparazzi, the drug addiction, the anorexia, the car crashes, the liquor, the fights and the "exhaustion" fits her being gay or bisexual is tame by comparison. It's down right normal even if a lot of people still don't view homosexuality as normal.
Only a small cadre of black celebrities are stalked the way Lindsay is stalked. Oprah comes to mind as no. 1, with Halle Berry and Will Smith as a pair of dull and distant seconds. It doesn't matter that Halle's life, between the "tragic mulatto," dysfunctional marriages, abusive relationships, daddy issues, attempted suicide, car crashes and an Oscar win is probably just as fucked up as Lindsay, she's still not stalkerworthy.
Black celebs who aren't Oprah don't push celebrity covers according to the media. But gay black celebs? You'd need the world's best Negro gaydar to find them because no. 1, black people are incredibly homophobic. No black celebrity wants to risk their career and rep in the streets by being bagged as a homosexual. And no. 2, Hollywood isn't particularly fair to actors who come out of the closet. Never mind that Hollywood is filled with gays, partly run by gays and fueled by gays. That's fine. Just don't talk about it or prepared to be typecast as "the gay person" or "the lesbian" the rest of your career.
But for blacks, where the work can be far and in-between, living in that sort of limelight can cast a shadow on a would-be, could-be career. There just aren't enough options. No one wants to take the risk.
We can't all be Ellen DeGeneres.
Known best for his lead role in the film and later LOGO TV series "Noah's Arc," Stephens is a California native. While he's played gay characters in the past, Stephens, like a lot of actors, wanted to keep his options open for "straight" roles, not wanting to by typecast. But in 2007 he confirmed that he was in fact a homosexual on, of all things, his MySpace page. Stephens is a private person and despite being listed among OUT Magazine's "OUT 100" list, he maintains his privacy and does not discuss his romantic life.
Spearman, like Stephens is best known for "Noah's Arc," but has been working in front and behind the scenes of the entertainment industry for years. For twenty years he worked as writer/producer/director in advertising and marketing for television and later did writing and production for ABC, CBS, NBC and UPN. He was even the creative director for managing all branding for ABC Daytime.
A Washington, D.C. native, most of his roles have been small and sporadic, sometimes appearing in major films or in extra parts on TV shows. On the bio on his Internet Movie Database page it reads, "Doug ... currently lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Amber and he will basically act in anything as long as the part is good and the pay is decent."
The out actor is also be on charity work, participating in The Lifeworks Mentoring Program, The Black AIDS Institute, and sits on the board of Directors for the Equality California.
While being openly gay, this Cuban American actor has had little trouble finding a variety of roles to play. From comedy to drama, from gangsters to drug dealers. He's made extensive TV appearances on shows like "Law & Order," "ER," "Third Watch," "Without A Trace," "The Shield" and many, many more. Diaz starred along Dave Chappelle in "Half Baked" and made appearances on "Chappelle's Show." His first speaking part was in Boaz Yakin's "Fresh" and is currently on the Showtime series "Weeds" as a drug trafficker.
It's odd that while he doesn't get typecasted as "gay," I don't know if having a Cuban play drug dealers over and over isn't necessarily an improvement. It's sort of trading one stereotype for another, but whatever keeps the lights on.
I have to admit to having a crush on Cruz way back when he played the shy, gay teen on the critically acclaimed "My So-Called Life." But I never anticipated he'd grow up to be this attractive.
The handsome Puerto Rican has an extensive TV and film resume since that series. He was "Victor" on "Party of Five" and has played parts on "Monk," "ER," "The Closer" and "The West Wing." He was also in the 2003 Macaulay-Culkin-Is-A-Man-And-A-Serious-Actor-Now vehicle "Party Monster," playing his drug dealer/roommate.
Cruz was also on the LOGO series "Noah's Arc." And has currently four films in production, including the book adaptation of "He's Just Not That Into You."
According to Internet Movie Database, Cruz once filmed a PSA on the plight of homeless gay teens as he was also kicked out of him home when he told his family he was gay, a story that ironically mirrored that of his iconic character on "My So-Called Life."
Best known for her break-out role on HBO's "The Wire," Pearson came from humble beginnings, which she wrote about in her memoir Grace After Midnight. Born a premature, three pound "crack baby," she moved from foster care to prison. At 14 she was charged with second degree murder and sentenced to eight years at a women's penitentiary in Maryland.
In prison she decided to change her ways when a close friend was killed. She received her GED in prison and struggled to find work with a prison record. She would later be discovered by Michael K. Williams of "The Wire" at a Baltimore club setting her on a vastly more positive path in life.
Born in Michigan, but raised in Arkansas, Harris famously self-published his first novel "Invisible Life" in 1991, selling it himself to black owned books stores and beauty shops until the book was picked up by Anchor Books and published as a trade paperback in 1994.
Since then Harris has published 11 books and won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence. A popular writer of black fiction focusing on the lives of upper middle class black professionals, some of his books center around the double-lives of homosexual men involved with women. These stories in some ways mirror his own, as Harris was once closeted and in relationships with women. He was initially reluctant to talk about this, but realized his personal story could be helpful to other young minorities who were gay or lesbians.
She has three Olympic gold medals. She was a three-time-MVP in the WNBA. She had four championships with the Houston Comets. She was hailed as the female heir apparent to Michael Jordan. And in October of 2005 she came out of the closet.
Swoopes had lived the lie long enough. Though she'd been married and had a child, in 2005, while still in the midst of her playing career she chose to open up about her sexual orientation.
In an interview with Gay.com, Swoopes explained what brought her to the decision to come out publicly.
Because I'm tired. I'm tired of having to be somebody that I'm not, tired of having to pretend and live a lie and not be able to show my real feelings.
Swoopes would go on to claim that she chose to be a Lesbian after falling in love with a close friend after her marriage ended.
Can you get bigger than Vogue, the fashionista's Bible? Anna Wintour's flagship of style and beauty? Talley is at the top for both his brilliance and his outre visions of what fashion can be.
In 2007 he was ranked by Out Magazine as number 45 in its list of the 50 most powerful gays and lesbians, and has created fashion hits and misses with Kimora Lee Simmons, Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey. He uses his fashion gifts to boost the careers of new, young designers and mold those with creative talents, making him the fairy gaymother of haberdashery criticism.
A multi-platinum, four-time Grammy Winning artist, Chapman is best known for her songs "Fast Car," "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" and "Gimmie One Reason." She's been notoriously mum about her sexuality, but she was famously outed by her former lover, author Alice Walker.
Walker told The Guardian on December 15, 2006 that the couple didn't go public with the relationship, which occurred in the mid-1990s, because the relationship "was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her, but it was not anybody's business but ours."
I first learned of Ndegeocello from her first studio release, "Plantation Lullabies (1993)." I mixture of jazz, blues, rock, funk, hip hop, reggae and the kitchen sink it was a revolutionary confection. But as a teen the most fun song on the album was its sole hit, "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)." But Ndegeocello, whose adopted last name means "free like a bird," would go on to produce and create bounds and bounds of music.
Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Washington, DC, she attended the Duke Ellington School of Arts. She's worked with Madonna, Alanis Morissette, Indigo Girls, The Blind Boys of Alabama and The Rolling Stones.
Ndegeochello describes herself as bisexual and was the long-time romantic companion of author Rebecca Walker until they broke up in 2003.
Amaechi, a role player in the NBA who worked for three US teams and two European league teams, famously came out in 2007, releasing a book about his experiences as a gay man in professional sports.
Very few athletes openly proclaim their sexuality, leading to a mixed response from the ballers he used to play with and against. While some were open-minded, others were begrudging and former player Tim Hardaway was famously bigoted and belligerent to even the notion of gays in basketball.
Amaechi was born in the United Kingdom and is biracial. Being homosexual added to some of the isolation he felt as a minority in England. While he has stated that the response from his coming out and his book was far more mild that he expected, Amaechi did receive death threats.
Other famous black gays, lesbians and bisexuals include: Recording artist and drag queen, RuPaul, author James Baldwin, activist Angela Davis, former congresswoman Barbara Jordan, author Alice Walker, author Octavia Butler, civil rights activist and organizer of the March on Washington Bayard Rustin, writer Rebecca Walker, performing artist Josephine Baker, writer/poet Langston Hughes, runway/fashion expert Miss Jay Alexander, singer Johnny Mathis, writer/activist Audre Lourde and writer Keith Boykin
In my research of famous black gays, lesbians and bisexuals it was both telling and disappointing that there is no high profile figure. A black equivalent to Degeneres or Neil Patrick Harris or Grey's Anatomy's TR Knight. No Lance Bass. Not even the bi-curious musings of Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz.
People shouldn't have to hide who they are or how they feel. I've never understood how the acceptance of GLBT individuals would some how destroy our society. There has always been gay people, yet the world still turns. Black people, my people, can be notoriously closed-minded. We don't want to deal with the AIDS crisis in our communities which is destroying us. We'd rather encourage an ignorance that would create a "down low" lifestyle, fostering mistrust and anger between black men and women. Keeping it in the closet may allow the ignorant to maintain their bliss, their interpretation of what a perfect world would be. But that blind eye changes nothing. The issue is still there waiting to be dealt with.
I wish black people would deal with it. I wish all people would deal with it. They're queer. They're here. Isn't it time we got used to it?