Likewise in his film Madea Goes to Jail, Keisha Knight Pulliam’s character was being bullied and sexually stalked by a big, butch lesbian hell bent on “claiming” her. Through these gay stereotypical characters, and many more which have appeared in his collective body of work, he plays right into the idea that gays are to be mocked, ridiculed and belittled as opposed to being portrayed as respectable human beings.
Of course, there are those, who point to his cross-dressing for comic relief as proof-positive of his sexuality. However, little attention is paid to the deeper symbolism behind his infamous character. I remember watching the Oprah show about a year ago and hearing Perry speak very candidly and courageous about his sexually and physically abused as a child. If I recall correctly, Perry faced a lot of physical abuse at the hands of his father, even suffering through a brutal beating with a vacuum cord. It was his aunt, who once threatened his father with a gun, which would become the inspiration for Madea. It was those images of strong women in his family, which ultimately helped him get through some rough periods in his life. And in essence, his playing the part of this protective figure on screen is probably therapy to help him work through the trauma he has experienced growing up.
Of course, none of this will soothe the convictions of those who still believe that Perry is gay. And ironically, the more Perry seeks to deny the rumors, the more his denials only seem to fan the flames of suspicion. So the question is what could Perry do to convince folks he is not gay? Better yet, if he is, why does it matter?
If I’ve learned anything from watching old episodes of Logo TV’s Coming Out Stories is that people have lots of different reasons including fear of losing family and friends to even career and social status for not flinging open the closet doors. And if Tyler Perry is gay, and that is a big “if,” it would make perfect sense to not reveal too much of his personal life to his adoring fan base, which is mostly women squarely involved in the church. And although I am of the general belief that gay folks in high profiled positions have a responsibility to come out to help normalize the image of homosexuality in our society, I don’t think this supposed “outing” of Perry, or anyone else for that matter, is healthy.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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