Politics

Queen Latifah Says ‘Being Gay Is the New Black’

Sat., Jul. 16, 2011 7:00 AM EDT
by Terry Shropshire

Queen Latifah knew exactly what she was doing when she had her character on VH1’s “Single Ladies” say that “being gay is the new black.” It is a preposterous and reckless statement for her to utter and not a genuine one at that either.

What’s interesting is that Latifah, aka Dana Owens, has been steadfast in her absolute refusal to broach the topic of her sexuality or even entertain questions regarding her orientation, which is her God-given right. But through “Single Ladies,” of which she is the executive producer, Queen Latifah somehow summons the gumption to let us know where she’s really at, but it is done in such a haphazard way and makes a mockery of the trials and travails that have sledge-hammered African Americans for centuries.

Even if Latifah meant that being gay is the ‘new black,’ as in the new hot thing out, then that is also an asinine statement to make, particularly when you consider the issues that still plague homosexuals in a homophobic nation, especially in the African American community.

The entire episode in question was meticulously scripted to let Latifah crack the closet door open and assess the cultural temperature in a timid kind of way. Latifah appears for the first time on the show as television reporter Sharon Love. The show reaches its climax when Love admits to having slept with her best female friend in college [Stacey Dash's character, Val]. When the admission is accidentally aired, Latifah’s character Love believes that her career would go to ruins. Just the opposite, it turns out. On the show, Love gets a whole lot of, well, love from the fictional public and media.

That prompts Latifah’s character to proclaim blissfully and boastfully, “It turns out being gay is fabulous. My Twitter is all atwitter. I have six new Facebook fan pages. And for every sponsor that’s fallen out, I’ve gotten two more. Who knew? Being gay is the new black.”

That was not an accident. You mean to tell me that for her first appearance on her own show and out of all the topics she could have broached, she picked this one? Too convenient.

If this was her way of tip-toeing out the closet, it was shameful and cowardly. Instead of coming correct the way that CNN’s Don Lemon did and that comediennes Wanda Sykes and Ellen DeGeneres have, Latifah wants to sneak through the employee entrance. This does nothing to give courage to those who are still struggling with self-identity and acceptance. Furthermore, the comparison does not work at all.

Gays, particularly Caucasian ones, do not have their economic upward mobility hindered by being homosexuals. There is no such thing as driving while gay. They don’t “accidentally” get shot 40 times by law enforcement officers, as so many black men have. They don’t get accosted in front of their family and friends for being gay. They can buy homes in the most upscale, coveted suburbs without being red-lined, nor do they witness the depreciation of property values because they moved into a pristine cul-de-sac. They don’t get offered subprime loans when they are qualified for better rates.

With the gay magazine, the Advocate, and paparazzi providing strong circumstantial evidence that Latifah and personal trainer Jeanette Jenkins are in a homosexual relationship, including the fact that their names are both on the deeds to their Hollywood Hills, Calif., home, Latifah’s sexual orientation is a foregone conclusion by now. Very few people, if any, believe that she likes men at this point. So, either she needs to come out and declare with pride and strength, or she needs to leave the subject alone altogether. She should not use a “Real Housewives of Atlanta”-type format to make political proclamations, especially when she has carefully evaded the political arena throughout her transcendent, award-winning career.

African American leaders have spent decades advocating for gay rights and the eradication of intimidating tactics and violence against gays. I’m not so sure that the love shown has been reciprocated. As usual, other ethnic groups and demographics have benefited substantially from the blueprint that African American civil rights movements have provided. However, the benefactors seem to keep forgetting to leave any fruit after others did the hard work of shaking the tree.

terry shropshire

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  • MsJamerica.Com

    This article describes exactly how I felt about her appearance on that episode! 

  • Doozie9

    She is free to say what she wants.. I think she is wrong but.. freedom of speech reigns

  • MrMocha

    Am I missing something here… This is Latifah playing a character on a TV show and not a statement she made during an interview.  I haven’t seen the episode so I will hold my judgement.  But why such scathing assessment?  Frankly, I take more of an issue with the portrayal of black women on shows like basketball wives and Real Housewives were the violent bitch factor is off the chart.  In Addition, what about the sexist, violent, “N” word ridden of far to much hip-hop music.  If you want to talk about irresponsible and reckless imagery and behavior how about an article or two that broaches those that subject and stop trying to make something out of nothing with the Queen….

    • Jtshrop

      MrMocha, Queen Latifah is the executive producer for the show. I was not by chance, nor mere coincidence, that she played a character who proclaims that being gay is fabulous. She made a statement through her character that perhaps she should have made outright in real life. Hers is an important voice that would give courage to the millions of fans who look up to her that who they are is okay. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NNWV6U26BAIXAFLR7FGXI5RH5U Libertine

      Thank you MrMocha for putting it into perspective. There is so much knee jerk rhetoric being spewed in this culture. It’s sick and sickening. It is a TV show! Not real, fiction, acting…meaning someone wrote a script. And, there are 1000 ways to skin a cat, therefore, myriad ways to look at the statement. She may have been referring to how the African American aesthetic has been co-opted by the Gay community (just like everything else AAs contribute to American culture). Everyone who socializes in the Gay community knows that the Gay that it swims in African American culture (music, colloquialisms, body language and mannerisms, fashion, etc.)

  • JAYNE DOH!

    YAWN!
    with all the issue facing the black community why are even dealing with crap. gay people are not going away so deal.

  • SugaBeezyBaby!!!

    She has been gay for years, broke my heart when she had a breast reduction, I cried that day ! I was sad for a week in my mind i was hoping to see um one day!   Blackthoughtzzz!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NNWV6U26BAIXAFLR7FGXI5RH5U Libertine

    She can come out or not come out. No one is in any position to dictate what someone should or should not do about something that is personal to them. She can do it in any way, format or platform she chooses. We all have that right of being as human entities. The arrogance and presumptuousness of American culture is old and tired. When we have our own Lives that are fulfilling and in Peace, there is no need to judge or disparage someone else’s Life. Try getting one. You’ll see how much time you have for scrutinizing and judging other people’s Lives. Zero

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501050571 Rayven Michelle

    Terry, there are so many things that are questionable with this article,
    I don’t know where to begin. Like (1) Where is the book or set of rules
    that dictates “when” or “how” a person should come out. Is Queen
    Latifah (QL) gay? I don’t know and I don’t care because that’s HER
    BUSINESS. Who are you, or anyone else to say, that QL should just come
    out already. (2) Who says that QL owes “courage to those who are still struggling with self-identity and acceptance?” QL
    doesn’t owe anyone anything. I have a huge problem with the way that
    America segregates people into all these different groups, such as
    African-American, gay, etc. Why? Because it makes people feel it’s okay
    to JUDGE people in these groups when they don’t “live a certain way” or
    “represent” these groups to their liking. I mean, really, who the hell
    are YOU? We were all born with FREE WILL, meaning we can live our lives
    as we see fit. Besides, QL doesn’t owe you, me or anyone else in this
    world anything other than to be a contributing member of society (i.e.
    pay her taxes, not live on welfare, work, etc). The fact that she has
    exceeded this responsibility by doing so much charity work (i.e. Keep A
    Child Alive, Boys and Girls Club, etc) and the other ways in which she
    has gone out of her way to contribute to society, is very commendable on
    her part. But she doesn’t owe women, or full-sized women, or actors, or
    models or African-American people or African-American gays (all
    variations of America’s GROUPS) ANYTHING, so she shouldn’t be held to
    the whole “you gotta live your life THIS WAY” mentality. (3) Why must
    African-Americans ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make everything so NEGATIVE? It
    makes NO SENSE that EVERY TIME African-Americans do something positive,
    other African-Americans have to tear it down. Yes, I’m talking about
    you Terry. Our entire race suffers from this “crab in a barrel”
    mentality and I’m SO VERY SICK OF IT! Instead of celebrating the fact
    that QL used a NATIONAL PLATFORM to show a POSITIVE outcome of a
    fictional African-American character revealing her sexual orientation,
    you (TERRY), turn it in a “QL needs to come out the closet already” type
    ordeal. In other words, you use this opportunity to demean her. And
    THAT’S the problem with African-Americans! Dang! I am really starting to
    believe that a lot of our problems are self-made because we choose to
    focus on only the bad in every single situation, instead of focusing on
    the GOOD!  (4) Really? What
    does black men getting shot 40 times or not being able to buy homes in
    upscale neighbors have to do with QL being gay? It seems to me that you
    were stretching SO MUCH to make this story work that you had to add in
    some fluff that has ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOTHING to do with the topic
    at hand. SMH! I swear, with so-called “journalism” like this, it’s no
    wonder that the African-American community can’t get ahead. Those with
    the power of media ABUSE that power so blatantly by feeding their own
    people GARBAGE instead of offering them some real news. Since you don’t
    have anything else to do, why don’t you write an entire series on how
    African-Americans can band together to bring us out of this darn
    recession. Stop contributing to the problem of wide-spread ignorance and
    offer real life solutions! PS Yes, I am African-American and I’m proud of it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruizpriscilla Priscilla Weathers

    There is nothing “shameful and cowardly” about her not wanting to blast her private life to the world! If she wants to keep her life private that’s perfectly fine and if she decides to tip-toe out of the closet, that’s okay too. She can do it any way she likes. Straight people aren’t required to announce their sexuality to the world, why is the writer of this article insinuating that all gay people need to do so?! Duuuuuuumb!!