Actor Jussie Smollett (pictured left) plays the gay middle-child in the Lyon family on Fox’s new show Empire, and has been deliberate in avoiding questions about his own sexuality in the media. But one of his fellow actors, Malik Yoba, may have outed him.
Jussie has taken the Kevin Spacey approach, essentially saying his personal life isn’t up for grabs. In an interview with Sway last month, he said:
“No, (fans shouldn’t assume I’m gay), but it’s also fair, and I don’t see a problem with that and I don’t really care. … This is not a gay black show. This is a show about human experiences. … I’m not willing to confirm or deny anything. I live my life. If someone is looking for a box to put me in, that’s not going to happen. I live my life, and if you really want to know about me, just watch, because I don’t hide anything. I just don’t choose to talk about my personal life.”
But in a recent Q&A, Yoba was asked about the success of the series and its impact, and specifically brought up the gay representation on the show. He said:
“I think that our show represents a huge opportunity to stay in the culture beyond entertainment value and there’s an intrinsic nature of you have the gay factor, right? So, obviously, Lee (Daniels, co-creator) is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it’s important for people to see themselves. Even within the Black community. But if you aren’t really, really taking it off of screen and making it live in the community in a significant way … like I know Jussie, he is gay, and he’s very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship.”
Many on social media were upset that Yoba apparently outed his costar.
Here’s some of that reaction:
Hey Malik Yoba! One doesn’t out people. Period. even to say, that he/she was my LOVER, is indelicate, impolite… http://t.co/zFpQxOScJB
— Dee Dixon (@PDeeDixon) March 3, 2015
.@MalikYoba it is a form of violence to publicly out someone, especially in an pro-monolithic industry.
— the III. ? (@GeekNStereo) March 3, 2015
Malik Yoba done put Jussie Smollet’s business in the streets. That’s not nice! — ?????? (@callmedollar) March 2, 2015
Now in a statement to USA Today via his publicist, Malik is backpedaling, saying he was misquoted:
“I was misquoted in the article. My reference to Jussie was only about his character and storyline on Empire.”
Well Jussie said he doesn’t care in previous interviews , so I see Yoba’s comments as a non issue. Most of the kids already knew Jussie was family. Plus he has nudes online. I just think the show is captivating and exciting. I got emotional watching lastnight’s episode when all three brothers embraced each other after arguing and fighting on the elevator.
Empire is my favorite show this season. When they brought in the girl making the allegation that her baby belonged to him I said out loud “PLEASE DON’T DO THAT TO THAT POOR KID”. He can’t/couldn’t ACT like he had/has been around a girl wearing nothing but panties let alone sleep with and have sex with.
I don’t think Malik outed anything nor was it his intentions to do so. I also bet everyone on that set likes him because he looks VERY comfortable with himself and accepts that he is gay. If you go to IMDB.com and look up the show and its characters you will see that very little is posted on there about any them (not even a birth date for most) but what is posted on there about Jussie Smollett is not only very interesting but will also have you walk away convinced that he is gay. That is of course if you have been around the block a few times and learn to notice a neon sign sitting in the forehead of a gay kid flashing “I’m gay”. No big deal as far as I am concerned but great publicity for the show.
The people upset over this are childish trolls. Yoba clearly was not seeking to out his co-star and his comments were harmless. Considering the show, the character, and the message… it’s really hypocritical and ridiculous to look at this as a negative either way.
The whole point of Jamal publicly coming out despite his father’s wishes was to say to the world “This is who I am, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks!”, yet the same people watching this somehow think being “outed” is a negative?
The negative is how certain people react to it. That’s always what’s made it dangerous, dark, and upsetting for people. If everyone would stop acting like it’s a dirty secret then we wouldn’t even have “outing” in our vocabulary meaning anything other than going outside.
And honestly watching the latest episode of the show you can see the gay aspect isn’t acting, but whatever…
@Black Pegasus: That scene was intense. But I like how Jamal read Luscious about the gay son who sign a major artist to Empire. That was sweet.
Pretty sure Smollett was in the Out100. And that Patrik Ian Polk movie. Polk has a rep for almost exclusively using LGBT actors. And straight guys don’t generally send nudes of their asshole.
Everyone already knows he’s gay? He’s said it before
“Actor Jussie Smollett (pictured left) plays the gay middle child in the Lyon family on Fox’s new SMASH HIT, Empire” ….Fixed Queerty. You need to give Empire the credit that its due and write more bout Jamal’s character than this BS you are peddling.
Anyway…I mean Jussie makes no attempt to hide his sexuality. His attitude is just “stay in your lane and I will stay in mine” and I have no problem with that. Yeah…Malik Yoba slipped. No he wasn’t talking about the character but whatever. Looking at Twitter tho after that quote came out there were quite a few people who didn’t know Jussie is gay, but the comments were all positive. People didn’t care.
Yes, that elevator scene last night had me up in my feelings, as did the EP scene at the end. I like how this show is tackling mental illness and Trai Byers is doing a phenomenal job. There were so many good scenes last night. ..like every week. Also, it rose in the ratings for the 8th straight week…thats an increase for every episode since the premiere. I don’t know what Fox did to land Empire but they struck gold because there was a network bidding war for this show. I’m just mad there are only 2 more episodes left for the season.
@Captain Obvious: It’s a negative because it takes away free will about a very important, personal aspect of one’s life. It removes the ability to decide for oneself how/when/where someone will define something about THEMSELVES that, unfortunately, is considered one of the biggest defining traits of a person in our society.
So Queerty gives almost no coverage of the show or it’s gay storyline but you cover this non-issue? Okay.
@demented: But that line of thinking is what makes being gay seem like a negative instead of just a part of what makes you who you are.
It’s not a shameful secret and there shouldn’t need to be a special event of “coming out”. There are still people killing themselves over this “event” yet we’re saying it should still be around and any straight people who talk about us before we’re ready to make a spectacle of ourselves about it are terrible people?
If Yoba made a mistake and misspoke then that shows how comfortable he is with his cast member and the subject. He wasn’t thinking about it as a dirty little secret.
It’s time for all of us gay and straight to stop treating it as a special event. It’s not. No one cares besides bigots and attention whores. The rest of us know now that it’s just a part of life no different than hair or eye color.
Is he or isn’t he? I’m tired of it. Why is it so damn important? If Kevin Spacey wants to stay in the closet, so what? He’s not hurting me or any other gay people.
@Captain Obvious: Not necessarily. It could also be seen as being like one’s taste in music, which is hardly a negative. It’s an aspect of one’s personality that is only revealed if one tells you. Other people might only hear snatches of songs coming from your earbuds, but it doesn’t mean that your love of, say, vintage Rolling Stones is a dirty secret just because you don’t tell people.
And I didn’t say he SHOULDN’T be open about it, just that people should have the CHOICE of defining what they are and deciding what they are going to do so. I mean, I have preferences between blond and brunet people, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for my relatives to blurt out, “Oh, XXXX won’t date blonde men” to other people. Even if it’s true, that is a decision for me to make.
Ideally we’d live in a world where sexual orientation wasn’t considered a huge part of one’s identity, and defining it wouldn’t mean you’re immediately seen as a vastly different person or be boxed in by other people’s expectations. You know, like it was thru most of human civilization. But sadly, in today’s society declaring ANY sexual orientation is seen as BEING most of that person’s identity, their social circle, their future, their political stances, their goals, their love life and their worldview, all immutable and immovable. So yeah, it is different from hair or eye color, because people MAKE it different.
And no, not just bigots. The very fact that people have to announce that they would “hate” to be a different sexual orientation (it happened in the comments a few days back, with some guys boasting that they would hate to wake up and be straight) shows that. I wouldn’t hate to wake up in two days and have blue eyes or red hair. Sure, it would take getting used to, but neither color is really part of my self-image or social identity. So clearly people see sexuality as BEING their identity, not as a tiny piece of it.
The thing is, Malik Yoba uttered it without the tiniest bit of vitriol, and probably did not know that Jussie Smollett (him and his sister Jurnee are the shizznit to me) was not openly gay… or is he? The reactions were very melodramatic, in my view, and did not warrant the nasty reaction. The waters are becoming very murky as more and more LGBT individuals come out with no fanfare and just live as they are. Malik Yoba didn’t do anything wrong, and if the show wanted Jussie’s sexual orientation to be off limits to interviews, they could have easily told their cast to avoid questions like such. This is the kind of stuff that makes it really difficult for straight allies to want to stand with us… there’s nothing wrong with correcting them, but to just jump down his throat like that as though he had ill intent? No… I don’t like that.
@jwtraveler: Kevin Spacey is gay tho.
Love how queerty is reporting on this story but has ignored the nude selfies sent to them from Young and the Restless actor Jeffrey Todd in a conversation he had with Daytime Emmy Winner Chandler Massey – Jeffrey is a gay man and is friends with one of Chandler’s room mates so the news that a former soap actor who played gay could finally be coming out of the closet SHOULD be news for queerty and while I am at it they should check out this twitter account about Chandler’s former acting partner https://twitter.com/HungryPlayer1
I’m so glad that they are not marketing this show to the gay male community. If they did, the show would fail. Marketing your show to bitchy queens who seek validation in others without having the courage to validate their own selves is a certain path to commercial failure.
I love the comment that Jussie made “I live my life, and if you really want to know about me, just watch, because I don’t hide anything.” Probably this type of transparency led Malik to think that it was ok to declare Jussie’s sexual orientation to the public, a.k.a. publicly outing him. There is the possibility that Malik was misquoted. Whatever the case I hope no love was lost between the two men.
@demented: I still don’t see the big deal mostly because Jussie is quite obviously a gay man and appears to be out in real life.
Plenty of people in Hollywood have slipped due to being forced to keep it a secret that their friend or co-star is gay and they’re not used to having to keep that kind of secret.
Either way Jussie’s life isn’t going to end over it. And no one is going to start looking at him differently.
Choosing a title to give yourself doesn’t shape how other people perceive you, that is up to them no matter what you choose.
I also find all of this rather ironic considering we jump all over the guys who call themselves “straight acting” aka able to hide in the closet, yet support the hiding in the closet of others who are somehow on a protected list. Which one is it? The closet is bad or it’s good? Can’t have it both ways.
If you’re supposedly trying to end the need for hiding in the closet, then why are we at the same time protecting the closet as a dirty little secret? Currently Jussie and others are supporting the idea that they are straight and therefore better off because being gay means the end of their career and viability in Hollyweird. That may not be their intention but it’s what the message is that comes across.
So we randomly support “straight acting” for certain guys and then have a huge fit about it for others… all the while treating an aspect of our lives as a terrible secret that makes us less viable human beings.
Skating around the issue isn’t cute, he doesn’t need to come out for us, but he does for himself. When you have a huge public platform but you’re still afraid to say who you are it really sets a precedent that you believe there’s something wrong with your own sexuality. I feel the same way about the other obviously gay guy on How to Get Away with Murder.
He obviously wasn’t in the closet if Malik knew about it. If you are in the closet you usually aren’t out in the workplace. You can’t be dating guys, sending naked photos online, taking gay roles and giving answers like ….”I live my life, and if you really want to know about me, just watch, because I don’t hide anything. I just don’t choose to talk about my personal life.” You don’t have to be Nancy Drew or Jessica Fletcher to figure it out.
It also comes off as hypocritical “I don’t hide anything” yet then the next sentence saying “I just don’t choose to talk about my personal life.”
@Captain Obvious: @lauraspencer: Sometimes actions “speak” louder than words.
Yep, Malik Yoba outed Jussie, who’s a known (if not fully out) gay man.
But this whole controversy about outing really is like 30 years old now. Richard Mohr wrote a famous book about it in the late 1980s, which was around the same time that people were outing other well-known closeted celebrities like Jodie Foster, etc. Michelangelo Signorile even became (in)famous for his outing campaigns, and Mike Rogers famously outed a number of closeted right-wing, anti-gay Republicans.
There is nothing shameful about being gay, and so long as people treat being gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans as shameful, they are helping to foster hom0ph0bia.
Yoba outed Smollet, of course it was not intentional but he outed him anyway.
But the big mistake was retracting from it. Smollet doesn’t seem to have any problem, he didn’t address his sexuality but he didn’t went the Falahee route and fill with rhetoric what’s a personal decision. He simply has no intention of talking about his sexual orientation, period.
I’m ok with that, but backtracking is a mistake, because people are not idiots and what he said was crystal clear. I don’t know if Yoba did it because he felt bad for talking too much, or it was Smollet PR who urged him to do it, anyway it was a mistake
Comments are closed.