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by Charing Ball

“So, did you hear that Tyler Perry is rumored to be engaged,” I said as I sipped my tea. From across the table, a group of friends pause from picking through the plate of hummus and pita bread and almost like a Baptist church choir, sang out,  “To what?” I started to giggle,  “An Ethiopian model.” My one friend, completely confused and somewhat slow on the draw, scratched the side of her temple and says, “but I thought gay marriage was illegal in most states?” I sucked my teeth, rolled my eyes and said, “No, he is marrying a woman. Why does everyone think he is gay?”

That basically sums up the reaction I hear over and over again after discussing this rumor about Tyler Perry’s alleged nuptials. No one knows for sure where the rumor came from, although we can guess which usually-wrong gossip rag started it, but allegedly larger than life filmmaker has been shopping for rings for his long-term girlfriend Model Gelila Bekele.  Of course, nothing has been confirmed, or even denied, however that hasn’t stopped folks from already dismissing the rumor simply because they believe that Tyler Perry is gay.

Before folks get all self-righteous with the “why are we talking about this?” troupe, consider that I constantly hear from both gay and straight folks, who believe in their magical powers of gaydar and “just know” he is gay. And I think that a discussion about why folks think he is gay is a worthy one to have.

Perry’s been dealing with the question marks about his sexuality since he and Madea sashayed from the “chittlin circuit” some time ago.  Although he has not shied away from the rumors, publicly stating several times that he is in fact straight, the rumor has persisted.   From the Boondocks “Paused” episode, to the infamous Michael Musto, a gossip columnist in The Village Voice, blog post in which he outed Perry, suggesting that, “His mannerisms and aura are such that everyone within a mile of his finery seems to say, “He’s a gay!” So, assuming the gaydar of millions is on target as usual, why won’t the guy come out already?”

Generally speaking, only hardcore evidence, such as a photo of Perry tonguing down a male companion or even an outright admittance, can really prove anything.  Yet that hasn’t stopped folks from not only determining his sexuality for him but also coming up with theoretical assumptions as to why he is supposedly been playing straight. Assumptions that his history of hiring muscular guys for his plays and films are a sure sign of his sexuality. Or the fact that he is a very success ful, single man in his forties, with no children.  I mean can’t a man dress up in woman’s clothing, for entertainment value, without being gay or does the drag queen doth protest too much?

If Perry is a gay man, he sure sucks at being one.  For one, Perry likes to play up homophobic and gay stereotypes in his work.  If you recall, in Why Did I get Married 2, Dr. Patricia Agnew (played by Janet Jackson) and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) were engaged in a bitter divorce that gets increasingly ugly due to his petition for half of the royalties from her book sales. In retaliation, she humiliates him in front of his coworkers, with a giant birthday cake with an effeminate gay Black man dancing to the Weathergirl’s It’s Raining Men. Of course, all of this is done to not only embarrass him but to use the presence of a gay man to contest his masculinity.

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