“Empire” heartthrob Jussie Smollett is finally opening up about his sexuality. Last year, when he was asked about his romantic preference, he avoided getting specific, but in a recent interview with Out magazine, the actor gets very candid about his orientation and how the “Empire” crew felt about his coming out.
“I am a gay man with an extremely open heart,” Smollett said. “God, I’ve never had to talk about this, so I’m trying to find the words. If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man. With that said, I believe that love is the only thing that matters, and I would hope that anybody would leave themselves open — not to gender, but to love. I would hope that people would not close themselves off from what could be if, lo and behold, you meet somebody that just sweeps you off your feet, and you just can’t do anything about it. If we truly believe that we are born this way, then why do we try to stifle the way we were born? If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I’m going to love that woman.”
Although the 32-year-old had come out to his parents at 19 and he had already played the role of a couple gay characters throughout his career, he wasn’t ready to officially come out to the world when people became more curious about his orientation a year ago. He said he wasn’t thrilled about his sexuality possibly becoming a “storyline” that would follow him forever once he finally came out.
He came close to spilling the beans when he was a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” around the time when “Empire” was just blowing up. “I was like two months deep into this fame thing,” he remembered.
DeGeneres didn’t ask him about his sexuality during the interview, and Smollett said that afterwards, she told him he didn’t have to talk about it, which not only made him appreciate her for her kindness, but made him actually want to open up about it. So when the cameras were set up again backstage and he was given another opportunity to out himself, he told viewers, “There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in.”
Now that Smollett is getting more comfortable discussing his orientation, he says that it was never the people behind his hit show who objected to him discussing it. He said everyone, including his co-star, Taraji P. Henson, was supportive.
“She said, ‘Who gives a f—? I don’t tell these motherf—ers that I’m straight. Why the f— do you have to tell them that you’re gay?’ That was so O.G., and it just made me love her even more,” he said.
He admitted that it was actually his desire to speak out about issues plaguing the Black community that was met with apprehension, like when he revealed he was going to Washington, D.C. to speak at the March 2 Justice and help with presenting a police brutality legislative package to Congress.
“I was told by two executives, ‘You know, maybe just wait. Just wait,’” he recalled. “You mean to tell me just because I make movies and TV and music that I can’t talk about what’s going on in the world I live in? Really? That’s not fair. Forget that. Because I’m scared that maybe viewership is going to go down? Or my next single isn’t going to do as well? Or I won’t get a movie?
“At some point, I was going to say what I believe anyway,” he said.