You’d think that by 2015, actors who portray gay characters on TV wouldn’t still have to field invasive questions about their own sexuality. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened to Jussie Smollett, who portrays Empire’s openly gay Jamal Lyon. Smollett had refused to comment on the subject, until his co-star Malik Yoba implied in an interview that Smollett is gay. He’s now setting the record straight in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. During the initial interview, when asked about Jamal’s coming out, Smollett acknowledged that he’s since received “ignorant tweets,” but said little else on the matter.
Backstage, however, Smollett pulled DeGeneres aside to clear the air in a candid speech:
“It was really important to me to make sure that it got across that there is no closet. There’s never been a closet. That I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet. I have a dresser, but I don’t have a closet, but I have a home, and that is my responsibility, to protect that home. So that’s why I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt no closet that I’ve ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world. And that’s where I’m at … So let’s not read into it the wrong when I say that I don’t talk about my personal life. I’m saying that, but it is no way to hide or deny who God made me. My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions?”