Does Staying in the Closet Mean You’re Hiding?

16 Comments
January 13, 2012 ‐ By

LA Weekly recently spoke with Odd Future’s Syd the Kyd about her sexuality and what it’s like being a part of the musical group of singers, rappers, dancers, and producers which includes Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator.

In speaking on her own sexual orientation, though, Syd decided to call out some well-known female entertainers who she says need to come clean about where their real sexual allegiance lays. She says:

“There’s Alicia Keys, who’s married to Swizz Beatz – we know that s*** ain’t real. You got Queen Latifah kissing Common in movies. Missy Elliott saying she don’t wanna hang with b****es. You know she loves her some b****es.”

Along those same lines, Syd explains why she decided to come out as a gay female in The Internet video, “Cocaine.”

“I decided to do it because I wish I had someone like that [an openly gay female artist] while I was coming up. People write on my Tumblr just thanking me for making the video, saying that I really inspire them, and they want to be like me. But I wasn’t always this way, this comfortable with myself, and I remember what that was like. So I figure, f*** it. Everyday people aren’t given this opportunity and I realize that.”

That may be all well and fine for Syd but I don’t think it’s her business to try to “out” women who she suspects are homosexual. From my limited knowledge of the whole idea of “coming out,” for some people, taking that step is like running up and down the street naked—you’re baring your sexual self in front of the world to be judged and the reaction you’ll get is never certain. Granted, most people these days don’t care so much whether someone is homosexual or heterosexual, but the decision to admit who you are sexually is still a very personal choice that people decide to disclose or keep to themselves for a number of reasons. Knowing that, and admitting that she wasn’t always comfortable enough to do so herself, I find it a little crazy that she’d try to put these women out there like that.

More importantly, why do these women need to admit anything? I understand that the whole coming out process signifies acceptance of who you are but I’ve personally never found it necessary. If heterosexual people don’t have to announce their orientation, why should homosexuals? Show up at the dinner party with your mate of the same sex and let people read between the lines just like they do with heterosexual couples.

I get wishing she had popular lesbian role models to look up to, but Syd’s just going to have to accept that Missy, Alicia, and Queen can’t be that for her and I don’t think that necessarily means they’re ashamed. We’ve seen pics of Queen Latifah with Jeanette Jenkins and it appears she’s already replaced her with another one—another one being a woman. Maybe these women don’t want their sexuality to overshadow their careers. If they are gay, the minute they admit it, that’s all anyone would want to talk about. Who wants to keep explaining what they do between the sheets at night? Maybe they don’t want to be the face of homosexual advocacy, which someone would surely expect them to be if they came out; and if they declined there would certainly be hell to pay. There’s also the possibility that these women just aren’t lesbians at all (except maybe the Queen).

In trying to speak up for gay artists, Syd marginalizes women in the same breath by suggesting it’s impossible for a woman to be heterosexual without showing T and A all day long. There’s more than one type of female MC and at the end of the day, no one has to explain their demeanor or orientation to anyone. I think Syd should take a lesson from her “lesbian” role model Missy Elliott and  “Stop talkin’ ‘bout who [she’s] stickin’ and lickin,’ just mad it ain’t yours.”

What do you think about Syd’s comments on Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Alicia Keys? Do you think lesbian entertainers have an obligation to come out with their sexual orientation? Is choosing to remain in the closet a sign of shame?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • MixedUpInVegas

    Surely almost no one is all that interested in a stranger’s sexual orientation.  Do gays think most people are interested in the gender of the people to whom they are attracted?  It seems like some kind of badge of honor for a gay person to publicly announce their gay-ness  It’s kinda TMI to me.  Either I like your skills as a performer or I don’t; who you want to sleep with is not a factor, nor is it interesting.

  • Irrepressible

    Everyone is not the same. Just because she had gotten comfortable with herself doesn’t mean the world is just going to up and follow. Since the world have to accept this new freedom and reality, gay women and men should not start picking at others like they should accept it in their personal life to engage in. Stop assuming and just live YOUR life.

  • Squeezablechic

    No matter what, we still live in a homophobe society that’s full of conservative people. For some celebrities, coming out doesn’t mean they’ll end up like Nate Berkus or Ellen. It means the end of their career.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003085266535 Courtney Small

    A hetero person proclaiming their sexuality isn’t the same as a gay person coming out the closet. The equivalent would be saying there should be a white n.a.a.c.p   or a WET (white entertainment television)

    Especially in the homes where they are strictly religious, gay children can and have been kicked out their homes and disowned by family members. It’s not about shouting from the roof tops that you love licking the box, it’s about not having to hide who you are. Imagine not being able to openly talk about your bf/gf to your friends and family. In certain places gay couples can’t hold hands walking down the street. you can forget about a couple openly kissing in public.  It’s wrong to “out” people when they are not ready to come out. It can be very damaging. Thats why people in the closet are considered “hiding”

  • Tyra

    While I applaud her for staying true to who she is; ‘outing’ others to make a point makes her come off as very insecure and frankly a tad low. There was no need to drag out other names period. 

  • Pivyque

    They can do what they want. It is not anyones business. For the longest, some people at my high school thought I was gay because they never knew my boyfriend and I wasn’t dealing with guys at my school. I didn’t argue with them about it, because I knew where my guy was and I didn’t feel the need to explain my business to anyone. These celebrities don’t either.

  • Guest

    She has a hateful agenda.  It is not up to her to drag anybody out of the closet.  Matter of fact who cares one way or the other?  Being surprised by the fact that someone is gay is like so 10 years ago.

    Too bad her sexuality is her gimmick.

    • Tyra

      Very well said!

  • maggie

    I don’t think anyone is being informed as far as who she is ‘outing’

  • uh…

    what makes her an expert on alicia keys marriage? shes acts like she knows the girl personally.

    • Kjthrash

      sorry but Alicia Keys is gay and as others have stated who cares who is gay its their personal business. Everybody has someone in their family or a friend that is gay and nobody cares anymore its much more accepted and soon very soon everyone that is in the closet will feel free to express themselves.

      • all we can do is go on what she tells us and what she tells us is that she is straight and happily married. callin her marriage fake is sorta messed up imo.

      • Becbec99

        Sorry Hun but Alicia Keys is not gay she is straight and happy with her husband and son, and no I have nothing against gays I think it’s wrong that someone who knows nothing about somebody is making accusations about that person and queen latifah has come out as a lesbian sO GTFOH

  • Carmelcup

    Although these people are entertainers and live a very public life; I believe in the right to privacy. It was not this young ladies’ call to out anyone! I could see if she was involved, but damn why spill the beans? She’s not right for that.

  • http://twitter.com/ConceitdBastrds Day Acoli

    interesting article. i wonder what happens when personal freedom becomes trendy. i’m not necessarily a fan of anybody having to hide anything about themselves for success but its hard to ask someone to be a martyr for any cause. i think syd benefits from the times and her affiliation with such an against the grain group. coming out IS her niche. an artist like alicia would never have had an album out. keyes struggles to put her first album out in the first place- it was only when her record company assigned her image that she was successful. situations like what happened with American Idol, where people openly didn’t vote for one of the contestants because he “seemed” gay. there ARE a lot of folks starting to come out as they reach certain points in their careers, wanda sykes for example. i can definitely relate to how hard it is to not see anybody like you out there, so I’m glad there is a platform for syd to be open and out and provide that image. 

  • Sugar_Spice

    Much respect to her for being true to herself but it was not necessary to “out” these other artists.  My cousin has been in a gay relationship that she thought my family didn’t know about for 4 years (it was the worse kept secret ever). She just came out on New Years.  People will come out the closet when & if they feel comfortable.