Does Staying in the Closet Mean You’re Hiding?

January 13, 2012  |  

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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