Quite a few factors kept Da Brat from coming out, but the “Funkdafied” rapper — born Shawntae Harris — says that the decision to keep her sexuality under wraps was ultimately her call and not the result of pressure from her label.
“I was always told you want to be f—able to men and women to sell records — you don’t want anybody to discriminate,” Harris said in an interview with Variety. “It was absolutely my decision. I mean, you saw what happened to people like Ellen: Remember when she lost her TV show, and all these horrible things were happening? People were totally against it.”
What may have also influenced her silence, however, was her strict religious upbringing and concerns that coming out may have reflected poorly on her late grandmother.
“My grandmother has passed away, but she was sanctified,” said Brat. “I would not want anyone in the church to judge her because of what I do. You never want to hurt the people that raised you; you don’t want to disappoint them.”
And while Brat’s mother is not necessarily happy with her decision to come out, she was clear that her mom loves and supports her regardless.
“Yeah, my mom is not, like, jumping for joy,” says Brat. “She’s not going to condone it, but she loves me unconditionally. No one in my family has said anything bad or degrading.”
Brat went on to say that she would have been content staying silent in regard to her sexual preferences, but her relationship with Kaleidoscope Hair founder Jesseca Dupart is what inspired her decision.
“I’ve always felt like being private is the better way to go, because then you don’t have so many people in your business,” Harris said. “I was fine staying quiet, but my partner is a social media mogul — that’s how she became who she is. And when you get with somebody, you have to meet in the middle. So to me, the middle was just letting everybody know: ‘Hey, she’s the one.’”
Ironically, the rapper admits that the announcement was not one that she planned and she didn’t even give her manager a heads up.
“Jesseca was showing me some pictures and we were going back and forth, joking ‘I’ll post it,’ ‘No, I’ll post it.’ So when she did, I was like, ‘Oh s—! I just came out after 20-something years!’ But it feels good to share with the world when you’re happy,” Da Brat recalled.
The Illinois-born rapper went on to say that the response from the public has been so favorable and supportive that she questions why she didn’t come out sooner.
“Oh, my God, the reaction made me feel like, ‘Why didn’t I do this s— years ago?’” she laughed. “I got so many positive messages, phone calls, and I had at least 1,500 texts. My DMs were flooded too.” Granted, some of the comments were served with a side of snark. “There were some people saying, ‘We knew it,’” said Brat. “Well, good for you! Now I know it, and I’m able to say it. I did this on my own terms.”
Harris says that she definitely feels lighter since coming out and she hopes that her story will inspire others.
“If I can inspire someone or help somebody to deal with their issues and their sexuality, then I’m here for it,” she said.“It feels like a weight has been lifted.”