Lena Waithe spoke out on the need for gay entertainers to come out of the closet at the Essence Women in Hollywood luncheon and if she said it once, she’ll say it again. The creator of The Chi recently sat down with The Undefeated and spoke about how not acknowledging one’s sexuality doesn’t just stunt your personal growth but also your ability to create as an artist.
“I think your art is stunted when you’re trying to pretend to be something you aren’t,” the 33-year-old said. “You can’t be as happy. If I was in the closet, I would not be a happy camper. I just wouldn’t be. I’m a real b-tch. I’m a truth-teller. I can’t sit here and act like I don’t have a phenomenal woman at home, with an engagement ring on her finger that I bought as a token of my love.”
And Waithe never has. From the outset, she was open about her relationship with Alana Mayo. And, of course, there was the “Thanksgiving” episode on Master of None in which the Chicago native told her own coming out story and showed she’s never been willing to pretend she’s something she’s not. Unfortunately, for her peers, that isn’t the case.
“[People] literally have partners and wives and husbands, and like — because of what? They want to protect the facade,” Waithe continued. “It’s like you’re preventing your art from being as great as it can be, and that’s because you’re not being completely honest with the public. And I think it’s bullsh-t. If James Baldwin can be out and proud and effeminate… in Harlem and in Paris and walking around and all that kind of stuff, so can we.”
The “we” is key for Waithe who admitted she’s also tired of being one of the few openly gay women in the entertainment business.
“I see these cats all the time, out and about, they hug me and say, ‘I’m so proud of you. You’re out! You’re doing it!’ And I want to look at them and go, ‘Why aren’t you?’ Why do I have to be out here on the diving board by myself?’”