Out filmmaker Lee Daniels is surely sitting on top of the world today after his fact-based drama Lee Daniels’ The Butler cleaned up at the box office with approximately $25 million in North America over the weekend, yet the director told Larry King that black gay men have more difficulty coming out because they face more intense pressure from their family, church and peers.
First, Daniels startled King (it’s true, the 79-year-old interviewer can still express emotions) by revealing that he realized he was gay at the tender age of five.
The 53-year-old Daniels recalled walking around in his mother’s red pumps as a child in front of his father and some of his policemen friends who were playing cards.
“He beat me severely for it,” Daniels remembered. “But that didn’t stop me because the following Sunday I walked down the stairs wearing her blue pumps — this time with her purse!”
The director, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work on 2009’s Precious, also shared a telling anecdote about his research on that film. He visited the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center expecting to see a waiting room filled with gay men, but instead it was filled with black women who’d been infected by closeted men.
“Black men can’t come out,” Daniels stated firmly. “Why? Because you simply can’t do it. Your family says it. Your church says it. Your teachers say it. Your parents say it. Your friends say it. Your work says it. So you’re living on this ‘DL’ thing and you’re infecting black women and it’s killing us. The black culture and the hispanic culture have a thing about [homosexuality].”