Bil Browning

Priorities: Queen Latifah & her girlfriend

Filed By Bil Browning | August 12, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: coming out of the closet, Jeanette Jenkins, lesbian embrace, Neil Patrick Harris, Queen Latifah, sexual orientation

When a tabloid ran photos of Neil Patrick Harris with his partner in 2006, the actor's agent quickly spouted off some mumbo-jumbo intended to make the public think the actor was straight. Harris stepped out front quickly, called bullshit, and came out of the closet publicly. He claimed that he was never actually in the closet since no one had asked him about his sexuality.

latifah-gay-kiss.jpgLast week photos were published showing Queen Latifah embracing her longtime partner, Jeanette Jenkins, while on a private yacht cruise. Latifah hasn't actually denied Jenkins is her partner just like she doesn't deny that she's a lesbian. Instead, she says her sexual orientation is no one's business but her own and says Jenkins is her trainer.

The comparisons between Harris and Latifah are stark and telling, but as I mused about this last night with Jerame, he asked me if I thought Harris was a better person. "Of course," I replied.

He said, "So you're saying that she needs to come out on your time and not her own?" and I replied, "Her time has already past. She's gone into the dodge-and-weave-to-make-more-money area now."

What do you think? Does she have an obligation to come out? Or is it fine that she just says it's nobody's business but her own?

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Her private life is her own business.
No one asks to be born lesbian
No one asks to be born gay
No one asks to be born transexed

These are things you ARE born as and it is beyond my comprehension that some misplaced "duty" to a community you might not even feel a part of places any obligation on you to be public about matters that are intensely personal and private by their very nature.

Leave the woman alone, she knows the arguments and clearly made her decision. That is her right.

A final thought, how the hell is being gay, lesbian, bisexual or born transsexed ever going to be just a part of the whole person until until those who should know better let it be just another part of a whole person? Those who make their lives all about the gay make it more difficult for those for whom it's just part of who they are especially when they take away that choice from those have their lives in perspective.

Real progress in ending homophobia and gynophobia and transphobia won't come until more answer the question "why does it matter to you?" or "so?"

and before I get jumped, there is a world of difference between denial and it's none of your damn business.........

RainbowPhoenix | August 12, 2010 2:57 PM

She's not lying and she's not being a hypocrite. That's the only obligation anyone has.

I don't know her. If she wants to be public about her life that is her choice. Otherwise its all just gossip.

Queen of what?

Sorry, dont really care.

I do not give a damn what she does in her private life -- as long as she does not support anti-LGBT/TQ organizations, and does not take an anti-LGBT/TQ stance on issues.

She is a performer. Why her actions harm the greater-gay-community (communities) -- well, then she's fair game.

auntie_alias auntie_alias | August 12, 2010 5:31 PM

She has no obligation to anything or anyone. If she were denying it then I'd say she was out of line, but she has a right to some privacy in a very public career. I'm more POed at the paparazzi who shot and circulated the pics.

Renee Thomas | August 12, 2010 5:32 PM


In this matter, I agree with you both sincerely and whole-heartedly with this caveat:

If you're a closet case tormenting others in the LGBT community then all bets are off.

I'd love to see Queen Latifah come out, because she'd be such a fantastic spokesperson if she chose that route.

But I would want her to be enthusiastic about it, and I wouldn't want her to feel like the world thrust it upon her.

And I do think she will become more open eventually --- if you remember, it took Ellen Degeneres a while to finally come out, even though everyone who was interested in her story already knew ...

Want to add: The best thing the LGBT community can do is just give her all the loving support she wants from us --- and not in the spirit that maybe she'll return the favor some day, but because it's the right thing to do.

No one cares because it's not icky. When it comes to homosexuality, nothing says OMFG like the thought of two men buttfucking, which, let's face it, is the issue that the whole world has with gay people. It really has nothing to do with the buybull or the konran or whatever. It's all about BUTTFUCKING. People just can't deal with it. I am going to start wearing a t-shirt everywhere that says "I buttfucked you and you don't know it" just so people can get the fuck over it already.

Oh and whatever it's her business. It's not like she's a fucking politician. She's an entertainer. Who cares? Next.

I love that you changed Bible to "buybull." This is the first time I've ever seen that expression.

the_czarina the_czarina | August 13, 2010 11:40 AM

'Buybull' has been an extremely common spelling/term in the online Atheist, Agnostic, and Secular Humanist community for years. For good reason, we would say.

the_czarina the_czarina | August 13, 2010 11:41 AM

'Buybull' has been an extremely common spelling/term in the online Atheist, Agnostic, and Secular Humanist community for years. For good reason, we would say.

While every LGBT person does have the right to come out on their own time, I do think it would be fantastic if Queen Latifah came out. She could be a good role model to LGBT people of color. But if she does take that role as an out public figure and role model, it should be her own decision.

I'm inclined to say that her business is her business.

Except all those studies that show how support for LGBT people (& their rights) grows in the general public when they know someone who is LGBT. And how there are very very few high-profile black Americans who are out. And this suggests that there are kids out there who would sure be helped by her being out.

So I'm inclined to say that a public figure who is closeted is making a political statement about how they think people like them ought to behave (I don't care if they give lip-service to LGBT issues) and, therefore, I disagree with her politics.

Seems to me you are assuming she is a lesbian. How would you feel if that is not the case?

Clickety to embiggen, then look at the picture closely ... Jeanette's hand is on the center of Latifah's tushie-bun ... do straight gal-pals do stuff like that? ... I ... don't ... think ... so ...

I would think it to be an invitation to digress into hypotheticals that I find much less interesting than the questions posed by Bil.

I must admit, I’m torn on this issue. I have a hard time seeing prominent public figures remain in the closet. I understand that privacy is important.

Perhaps I should chalk it up to being a small time activist. I’ve spent years trying to reach and influence the minds of others around while it would take Queen Latifah just one press conference or one open interview to reach the same number of people. Call me a dreamer but I feel very strongly that if there were more prominent figures who were open about their sexuality, then we wouldn’t be struggling so hard for equal rights.

Paige Listerud | August 13, 2010 2:58 AM

I can't disagree more strongly. It's nice when celebrities come out, but they don't change the world. You and I change the world. The homophobe in your family might not care what people in Hollywood do and may even call Ellen Degeneres "Ellen Degenerate." However, knowing someone close to them is LGBTQ would strike closer to home. They couldn't brush it off as easily.

Plus, celebrities are always a mixed bag--a nice, steady, decent one is a wonderful spokesperson but a loudmouth candidate for rehab is not.

Thanks for the comment back. You can totally disagree with me. But I have to ask. If celebrities don't change the world, then why do we always need them for LGBT fundraisers?

I agree, sharing your story with those around you plays a pivotal role in changing the minds of the opposition. I just feel that an ‘out’ celebrity could help reach and engage those that I can’t.

Paige Listerud | August 14, 2010 1:59 AM

Celebrities are brought in to draw more media attention to an LGBTQ event.

Celebrities know this about any cause that they espouse. Unless their own overblown egos put their heads right up their asses, they know they are not the people who do the principle work. People who will never get the limelight are the real engine behind the cause or movement or organization. Any modest and sensible celebrity will know that they are just the eye candy that brings in the cameras.

If celebrities are smart about it, they use their fame to grab attention to causes or issues that they care about most. It's the fame way of giving back.

I thought we all had a rule for when to out someone. We out them only if they are legislating or preaching against us from their closet. To my knowledge, Queen Latifah has never done that. She has the right to her privacy.

PS: If that is her trainer, I think she ought to keep her as a lover but hire somebody else to keep her in shape.

Paige Listerud | August 13, 2010 3:08 AM

Latifah wasn't outed by anyone in the queer press. Paparazzi outed her in the mainstream tabloid press. It may not be kind for us to speculate on her, but it's not a violation of her privacy on our part.

I think it would be a touch of class if she could get together with her handlers and organize a nice press conference or appearance on Leno to get her message out about her sexuality, her identity and her relationship with Jeanette on her terms. But it's not something the queer community should compel her to do. For how long have we let Oprah slide? And Johnny Weir was an invited guest to an HRC banquet even though he's never openly declared his sexual identity.

PS--Jeanette is HOT! She can train me anytime.

Yes! ... Even I noticed how hot Jeanette is!

rapid butterfly | August 13, 2010 7:03 AM

As others have noted, it's her call because it is her sexuality. I do wish she'd come out as either bi or lesbian, if either fits, simply because she certainly seems to be in a financial position such that coming out would not harm her, and would likely benefit LGBT people.

PS Father Tony: I think both these women are gorgeous, and I think little can be estimated about their physical fitness from a pic like that.

She doesn't have an obligation to come out...just like I don't have an obligation to serve my country, or help an old lady across the street, or report domestic violence, or speak out when someone says something racist, etc. etc.

Gay people don't have an obligation to be part of the LGBT rights movement. They can go sailing on their yachts while someone else fights for their rights. But hey, they don't owe anyone anything...because they're rich.

John Rutledge | August 13, 2010 8:53 AM

Everyone comes out in their own way, in their own time. No one should be making another wrong for how they choose to do that. Golden rule applies, famous or not.

its her right to privacy, who she chooses to come out to, that doesnt change just because she's famous.

She can't be outed and she's not going to come out - she's already out. I read this picture, with her coming out to a part of the boat she knew the paparazzi could see and kissing her girlfriend right after the Prop 8 ruling, as her coming out. She's out, and go her!

Well, Alex, that's one way to look at it ... and, while it is speculation, it is not necessarily wrong ... but are we to move Johnny Weir, Anderson Cooper, Richard Simmons, and other famous denizens of the glass closet to the "OUT" column of our score cards, by applying similar arguments?

My understanding was that someone is out when they make an explicit public statement "I'm gay" or "I'm lesbian" or etc. ... Do we want to tinker with the prevailing LGBT community standard for "being out"?

Can we please move past this idea that being gay is "none of anyone's business" -- this stems from the assumption that there is something wrong with it. And I would bet most of you who are crying "leave Latifah alone" know exactly how many pairs of panties Lindsay Lohan packed to go to rehab, so let's drop the act, k?

Nobody has an obligation to discuss their personal relationships in public, even if they flaunt them in public. What does that picture mean? Two sexy women enjoying each others touch, nothing more. If Latifah wants to hide behind that "nobody's business" anachronism, that's her problem. Maybe it's her own residual homophobia, or simply cowardice. We can only speculate.

But to compare her to Neil Patrick Harris is unfair. He's thin, white, and male. C'mon.

Most celebrity announcements are a big yawn because I really don't care and Weir, Cooper, Latifah etc coming out in public won't affect much of anything other than their own publicity machines. I also don't particularly buy the role model argument. For every Ellen, there's a Boy George. For every Barney Frank there's a Roy Cohn. For every Margaret Cho, there's a Rosie (admittedly, she's not a terrible role model, but her abrasive style turns her into a love her or hate her icon).

Basically I think that it's her life and her decision. Her celebrity doesn't negate her right to a private life and as long as she is doing no harm, it's nobody's concern but her own. She doesn't owe the 'community' anything and i

That's a lot of false comparisons...I mean if they were supposed to be good vs bad role models.

Rosie is a fine role model for lesbians...maybe not for gay men that dislike "abrasive" women.

I don't buy the argument that there can be role model is supposed to be for all. We need diverse role models so that LGBT youth understand that they can come in all genders, races, religions, national origins, and ethnicity.

"I don't buy the argument that there can be role model is supposed to be for all. "

I butchered that sentence.

I don't buy the argument that a role model has to be for all.

GrrrlRomeo: I'm not disputing Rosie's status as a role model. I won't dispute that she's done some good. She's also done some damage. It may come as a shock to you, but her abrasive style doesn't only bother gay men, but isn't all that well perceived in the word at large.

However... role models are role models and we need to be more selective. George Michael was a role model until he got busted for cruising in a public restroom. So was boy George. So was Anne Heche until she decided that she was straight after all.

I do agree with you to an extent. We do need role models of all types, but the fact that a celebrity is gay does not mean that they are a role model. I mean... Lindsey Lohan is a well known celebrity with bisexual leanings, but would you seriously hold her up as a role model?

Just because someone is gay doesn't mean that we should celebrate them.

David Castillo David Castillo | August 14, 2010 9:52 PM

Bil, I'm not sure she has an obligation to "come out," as it were, but I think that this is a prime opportunity for her to come out and dispel any rumors that will just continue to perpetuate this story in the entertainment press. Once she does come out, if indeed she is LGBT, the entertainment media will cease to hound her because she's just like every other celebrity in Hollywood who keeps a relatively low profile.

And, the idea that she deserves privacy is moot in my book. The higher your profile, the lesser amount of privacy you can expect to receive. Without getting into the finer points in this space, that is law. It's what allows the paparazzi the ability to continue to do what they do.

So, if she would like for the press to stop hounding her on this subject, then she should just come out, respectfully, of course. This is royalty we're talking about.

As a fan, I would love it, and her decision to come out would inspire untold numbers of gay teens of color struggling with their decision to come out.

We don't need her to be an activist, but it serves her no purpose to stay in the closet. She'll be denying these rumors for years more if she does. All Queen Latifah has to do is say that she is LGBT and that if anyone has a problem with it, they can take it up with her personally. That statement alone will say volumes to millions of people.

And that will be that.

As long as she doesn't deny it. What's the harm? She's not a gay activist. She's an artist. Let her be.