Why Are So many black gay and lesbian stars still in the closet?


You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be cognizant of the fact that folk rock singer Tracy Chapman is a black lesbian. So why is Chapman still reticent  about being a lesbian since  her first album was released in 1988?  Chapman has sold millions of albums, is a multiple Grammy award winner, and a black lesbian feminist icon. Chapman’s audience knows she is a lesbian yet she refuses to come out of the closet and declare she is gay.

Another interesting fact, Tracy Chapman’s core audience is white and not black. Even though, Chapman sings about racism and other forms of discrimination, she  is still not  accepted by the black community.

I think some black people just didn’t “connect” with Tracy Chapman  due to homophobia and sexism.

I think most black people already know Tracy is a black lesbian woman.

Another reason, the black community can’t “connect” with  Tracy Chapman is due to the fact she is a folk rock singer and not an R&B and soul singer.

Some blacks say Tracy Chapman is acting white and that’s such bullshit. Chapman is an individual and it is sad that the black race we don’t respect her.

Why can’t a black entertainer break the racist and sexist stereotypes? I applaud Tracy Chapman for having her own vision and being extremely successful. Why should all black singers just sound like Mary J Blige or Beyonce? Isn’t this boring? Musical taste is a personal choice and preference it’s just interesting that many blacks have shunned Chapman for so many years.

Why has Tracy Chapman been on the cover of Rolling Stone but not Essence, Upscale, or Ebony Magazine?

After all, Chapman is a multi platinum international superstar. Why is Chapman shunned by the black media ?

Although Tracy doesn’t discuss this it’s got to hurt, that her own race disrespect her this way. Tracy Chapman is a legend, it is so horrible that black people have no respect for this legend.

Chapman was never really embraced by the black media or  black community for a plethora of reasons. The first obvious reason I believe Tracy Chapman wasn’t accepted by the black community is due to her androgynous appearance.  Although Chapman has a feminine voice and personality, she is a butch lesbian. Chapman doesn’t wear seductive clothing or utilize her sexuality to sell records. Some heterosexual people of African descent are uncomfortable with Chapman’s masculine appearance.

Another point to consider, is the black media can be very myopic at times. Tracy Chapman was never treated fairly by the press in the black community. Tracy was often ignored on black radio, BET, black magazines and newspapers.

Tracy is an incredible artist a black woman who defied the odds.

She is a music superstar, she shattered through the pop world and claimed her place and audience. Chapman’s tours are very successful and yet the black race ignored her due to prejudice. Tracy has never denied her blackness she is a  proud black woman and yet blacks still treat her badly.

Why is the representation of “black music” so limiting? I think there is more to black music then just R&B and hip hop. However, black radio and the people in the black media still promote less talented artists than Tracy Chapman. I think if the black media did make the effort Tracy Chapman could have had a larger black audience. I do wish black radio, black TV was a bit more open about different musical formats. I mean why isn’t Meshell N’Degeocello on BET more often?

Tracy Chapman has never denied she is a lesbian, but she hasn’t exactly been open about her sexuality either. I understand Tracy has a career and she has a right to a private life. However, given the fact that black gays and lesbians we have so little visibility in the mainstream it would be nice if Tracy was more open.

By now, I am sure, everyone knows that the bisexual feminist writer Alice Walker and Chapman were involved in a romantic relationship in the 1990s. Walker talked about her former lover Chapman in an interview with the UK newspaper The Guardian. Here is the link: http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1972800,00.html

Another black entertainer that lived in the closet is Luther Vandross. Luther Vandross situation is similar to Tracy Chapman, but Vandross was loved and respected in the black heterosexual community. Vandross was gay, yet he kept his secret leading all the way to his death. People will say “well the black audience didn’t care that Luther was gay we loved him anyway.”  I disagree because  I think the love the black audience had for Luther was not unconditional because if it was he would have come out. I think Luther remained in the closet not just because he feared about losing revenue by coming out but he also feared losing his place within the black community.

Vandross was cognizant that he needed the black heterosexual audience to buy his CDs, concert tickets, DVDs. Vandross also was aware of the fact the white gay community certainly was not a market he could rely on to keep the revenue flowing. Luther had a “don’t ask don’t tell policy” with the black community.

An issue that is rarely discussed in the mainstream media is the fact to be “gay” means to be “white” this displaces queers of colour.

If you look at the gay magazines such as Advocate or Out Magazine or the LGBT movies being released the message is gay people are white people.  The gay celebrities that   come out of the closet  are rich white gays and lesbians such as Ellen Degeneres or Rosie O Donnell.

Being black and gay is unique because we are a “double” or even “triple” minority.

Maybe some black gay and lesbian stars are correct in being fearful of the racism of the mainstream white gay community?

What is the point coming out as a black gay or lesbian star when you can be marginalized due to your race?

Next, black gay and lesbian stars have to worry about the entrenched homophobia in the heterosexual black community.

Some black heterosexuals believe black gays and lesbians we are going straight to hell they are very religious people.

So, the option for many black gays and lesbians is to remain in the closet because they are safe in the black community. Meanwhile, black gays and lesbians can surreptitiously explore their homosexuality in the gay community.

I think this is the quandary that hurt Luther Vandross. Luther had to negotiate between the white and black public spheres.

I think it’s so sad that Luther’s life was a tragedy he wasn’t able to really be himself in the public sphere. The black media did ask Luther numerous times in interviews about his sexual orientation and he always either ignored the question or just denied that he was gay. I wonder though, would the black community really turn on him? Everyone knew, Luther was the “eternal bachelor.”

It was the “fear”, I think that held Luther back the unknown. In some ways. Luther was a sex symbol for some black women he sang songs about heterosexual love. Vandross was the “classy” R&B singer he didn’t sing the bump and grind such as R Kelly and his clones.

Yet when a black entertainer does come out the black community and the mainstream white gay community either ignores or disrespect the  artist.

For instance,  bisexual singer Meshell N’Degeocello has been out for several years although she has never attained the success or respect she so richly deserved. I still believe there was a resistance to her work because she was so brash, bold, and outspoken. Meshell never denied or hid the fact she is bisexual.

I think this is part of the reason Queen Latifah refuses to come out of the closet. Queen Latifah has more to lose than someone like Meshell N’degeocello she is an A list black actress. Queen Latifah has numerous endorsements, high profile film roles, and she is loved by the black heterosexual community.

I think most black people “know” Queen Latifah is a lesbian but she has not declared she is gay due to fear. Perhaps Queen Latifah doesn’t want to come out because she is not interested in being a “role model” to the gay community or seen as a “spokesperson”?

When I was coming out as a teenager, in the mid 1990s, it really helped me a lot to accept my sexuality. I remember watching  Meshell talk about her sexuality and life on Much Music. People that are not black and gay don’t understand what it feels like to invisible and be a double or even triple minority.

When K.D. Lang and Melissa Etheridge came out in the 1990s they did not register with me because they are white. I just couldn’t relate to them. Yet when I saw an interview with this courageous young black woman Meshell N’Degeocello on Much Music I felt  empowered. Meshell she discussed  her incredible second album the amazing “Peace Beyond Passion” and the song “Leviticus Faggot”.

I love Meshell! Meshell is one of my role models! It was incredible for me to see this black LGBT woman Meshell N’Degeocello on television talking about how wonderful it is to be black and an LGBT person.

It meant so much to me to see someone that looked like me on TV that was black and gay. It takes a lot of guts what Meshell did it really does.

Meshell never looked like the typical female black singer she has a shaved head, her music was not just soul, it was also rock, funk, pop, maybe even some folk too. Meshell was not a puppet controlled by the record company either. Although Meshell is slim she wasn’t a size two, she didn’t wear the designer clothes but she has a lot of natural talent and is a true multi instrumentalist musician. Meshell was radical in the sense she was proud of her sexual orientation and her blackness.

Meshell has spoken honestly about the pernicious racism, hypocrisy, and bigotry of the mainstream white gay community. When Meshell came out she didn’t receive that much press in the white gay media either. Meshell she was ignored by the mainstream white gay magazines such as Out or Advocate. The white gay media treated Meshell as though she was just an afterthought. However, I felt Meshell was so incredibly talented and her talent allowed her to rise to the top.

There was an indifference and ambivalence the white gay press had for her because she is an outspoken black bisexual woman. Meshell refused to play the racist game of ignoring her “blackness” to just focus on her “sexuality.” Meshell she was cognizant of the fact there is an intersection of race, sexuality, and gender.

Meshell let it be known that just because she is bisexual does not mean she didn’t care about black issues or the black community. Some heterosexual black people still believe this fallacy that just because a black person is gay that means we don’t care about black issues and that’s false.

I know for a fact that although there is homophobia in the black community the racism in the mainstream white gay community is so rampant and so obvious. It’s the reason why I couldn’t be bothered with the gay pride events in Toronto, I don’t read the gay newspapers because they never write about issues or things I am interested in. I don’t go to the gay bars in Toronto either.

Some people say Meshell’s music was too ”preachy” meaning too “black” but I loved it! Meshell should of sold millions of albums she should of become a bigger star. Meshell can play several instruments and she also is a very good singer/songwriter. Meshell basically started the “Neo Soul” movement all by herself in 1993 with her first album”Plantation Lullabies.”

Yet black heterosexual singers Erykah Badu, Maxwell, and Jill Scott get all the credit. Meshell released five albums on the Maverick label yet not one album went gold or platinum. Meshell never even won a Grammy award. How could such a talented artist be so disrespected? I think part of the reason Meshell wasn’t more successful was because she was honest about her sexual orientation.

I remember when I was sixteen back in the year 1993 and I had the biggest crush on Tevin Campbell I absolutely adored him. A lot of people I talk to these days say they always knew Tevin was gay. I recall rushing home from school and tape recording Tevin’s hit songs “I’m Ready”, “Always in my heart”, “Can we talk” and playing the videos over and over and over again. I just loved him! I still believe Tevin’s second album “I’m Ready” is one of the best R&B albums of the 1990s.

Tevin as everyone knows got caught a few years back trying to solicit gay sex with an undercover police officer. Tevin has never officially come out of the closet but its well-known he’s gay. Tevin is trying to make a comeback he’s in the musical “Hairspray” and he’s working on a new album.

So is Tevin going to be singing about loving a woman when everyone knows he prefers men? I understand the music business is after all a business but shouldn’t music be made from the heart? Why do so many closeted black gay and lesbian singers sing about the opposite sex when everyone knows they are gay?

There are a few black rappers that everybody knows are lesbians yet they will continue saying in the press that they aren’t gay. I mean people aren’t stupid people can put it together. I am not going to mention the names of these black lesbian rappers because anyone that’s paid attention to hip hop music can figure it out.

There are also some black entertainers everyone knows are bisexual or gay yet its another one of those “don’t ask don’t tell” policies. I can understand if the black gay actor was a leading man it could perhaps shatter the mystique the female audience has with this entertainer. I think that could be a reason some of the black gay male actors in Hollywood remain in the closet. Also, there is the issue of being typecast.

I wonder if we will ever be honest with each other? Anyone that’s been to the black church knows there is always the ubiquitous choir director, gay piano player, or gay pastor. Everybody knows somebody that’s gay whether it is a realtive or a friend.

The easiest way fans can figure out if an artist is indeed gay is not by what they say but by what the entertainer doesn’t say. Actions speak louder than words. Whenever you read an interview about your favourite black star think to yourself why does this black celebrity never talk about his or her’s love life? Why is the topic off limits during the interview?

Whether people want to admit it or not the public wants a connection with stars. It is the human connection that not only attracts people to the star but also gets people to go see their movies, buy their CDs, DVDs, or got to their concerts. If society is so accepting of homosexuality these days why is there an imbalance in the type of stars coming out and those that remain in the closet?

About orvillelloyddouglas

I am a gay black Canadian male.

52 responses to “Why Are So many black gay and lesbian stars still in the closet?”

  1. aulelia says :

    this is an interesting post! thanks for shedding some light from your perspective. i think we straight black people can be so heterosexist, it’s disgusting. this is something that is barely talked about. i have heard of meshell but i have never heard of her songs.

    we still live in a world of persecution. when you came out, that was definitely brave and good for you. i think the reason tracy C doesn’t want to is she comes across so private. she doesn’t seem like ellen, in terms of wanting everyone to know. perhaps the beauty lies in not everyone knowing since it is her business. that said, black gay people deserve role models and i agree with your sentiments.

  2. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    I think it would be great if more black gays had the courage Meshell has. Everyone knows Tracy Chapman is gay but I guess she feels there is no need to come out. Alice Walker has talked about their romance in the media. Meshell has always been true to herself she has never hid the fact she is bisexual. It is kind of sad the black media haven’t given Meshell the respect she deserves.

  3. Meeh says :

    I am black and Tracy Chapman has always been my favorite musician. All her songs make lots of meaning and I still don’t understand why she has not been accepted in the black community. Even though she has never opened up about her sexually, Most of us think she is gay and it is very sad that people are still being judged based on sexuality. Why do we even care about are sexually anyways? What matters is that sends sends out a very powerful message through her music.

    • Maryjane Seriki says :

      The first time I listen to Tracy Chapman song I fell in L♥√ع with her I first a question if d singer is female or male I was told female I like her style and her smile but when I got to know ‎​Shε̲̣̣̣̥ was a lesbian I was not happy about that I just want her to sε̲̣̣̣̥ε̲̣̣̣̥ reason to change her L♥√ع life ‎​Shε̲̣̣̣̥ should not allow her legacy to die ‎​Shε̲̣̣̣̥ should try to have family children so that when ‎​Shε̲̣̣̣̥ is no longer leaving her children will be seen

  4. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    I think the reason Tracy Chapman has not been accepted by blacks is because she is a lesbian. Tracy sings about race issues and black politics all the time she is in tune with her blackness. So I think because some blacks sense Tracy is a lesbian and doesn’t have the feminine heterosexual looks and appeal she was ignored.

  5. anthony says :

    I think your article is so beautifully put that it shows the power of negotiation when dealing with issues that are both serious and sensitive. Black culture has taken christianity as a sheild historically to protect in this life and in the next so I can see why we treat our gay sisters and brothers with contempt. However, as society changes, we must try to discuss the issues as they will not go away. For followers of the Book then look for the love (and there is plently in there!) and adhere to your heart- Do you think that Jesus would be impressed if he saw or heard the often vile attacks on black gay people? It is a form of bullying we have aquired as a pecking order in our communities. Anyone using god’s name to hate is not a true christian. Also we are suppressing artists with talent and who could help black people in general to move on? Lets show some LOVE x x
    Billy Holliday, James Baldwin et al all lived to some extent in shame – Lets change things – “All God’s Children – Need Travelling Shoes”

  6. Tiiz says :

    IMO, I think that we should be able to celebrate our differences.
    As a straight black woman I never understood WHY people choose to wear their sexuality on their sleeve or ANYthing else for that matter. This world has become social overload. I really don’t care who Tracy or anyone is sleeping with for all that matters.
    I have ALL of Tracy’s albums…my taste. I don’t know why people try to put a rhyme or reason as to WHY somebody doesn’t like something. I don’t like peas, are you going to ask me WHY? Why don’t I embrace peas. It’s all about ones taste. If Tracy appeals to a certain audience–she does. I don’t think it’s fair to ask someone who doesn’t like peas to just enjoy them even though they have tried them. Don’t keep eating peas in my face just b/c that’s your choice

    I also think that publications KNOW their audience and who is reading them. It’s about money and appeasing their audience. Their audience does NOT want Tracy on the cover of their magazines b/c they don’t follow her music. Simple. Why can’t black people pick and choose just like anyone else?

    Finally, Nobody is going to step up and pay these artists’ bills and they love their comfortable lifestyles. Why jeopardize that by sharing TOO DAMN much? We REALLY don’t care. Has Tracy even sought acceptance? Or is she happy right where she is in her place in the world?

    Role models start at home. It’s high time the black community stop looking for others as role models and look at the person in the mirror.
    Anthony: “Move On” to where?
    I’m just tellin’ it like it T-I-Tiz!

    • Shannon says :

      I care, Tiiz. And so does every gay,lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning kid i know.

      I grew up in a very white town in a very white state. My parents, both proud and educated African Americans, sought to remedy the lack of coverage and concern for Blacks in our town through educating us on Black history: To them, it was imperative that my sister and I be able to find ourselves in history and current events to give us a sense of pride. My parents constantly complimented our hair and features in attempts to shield us from a world that may try to convince us we were ugly.

      When I began to understand my same sex attractions, it was equally important for me to reclaim my GLBTQ history; to find men and women and others that struggled as i did. It heartened me to know that some people I respected very much were indeed queer.

      I have a question: What is flaunting to you? If it is holding hands or speaking honestly and openly about the love of one’s life, then you must constantly be disgusted by the outward displays of affection and sexuality daily expressed by heterosexuals.

      I am not flaunting. I am living. It matters to see celebrities that are Black come out: If someone you respect is gay, it makes it harder for you to justify abuse and hate. Coming out can literally mean the difference between life and death for some of us. Until I could conceptualize what it would mean to be gay and Black, I was ready to kill myself. GLBTQ youth are up to three times as likely as their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide, the reason behind their choice being the stigma being gay carries and the rejection of family.

      Black people will never be able to address racism effectively until we begin to really address our own homophobia.

      But you knew that already, didn’t you?

  7. 1andonlydel says :

    I seems as though the sexuality of many historically prominent black figures is always guised, as if their sexuality is more of an embarrassment than an empowerment. Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Alvin Ailey, Alice Walker, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Angela Davis, and Nell Carter are all queer people of color.

  8. Don says :

    Good article, but I think your article misses one important point. Tracy Chapman does not make hip hop or neo soul. She is best described as alternative folk. Not exactly going to be popular in the black community. I applaud her for her music choices and not selling out but just like Charly Pride was a country singer and not popular with blacks so is Tracy Chapman. Don’t read to much into some things.

    Is black radio ready to air its laundry out in public. No, it’s just the way we were brought up. Don’t give white people a reason to put you down. Is it right? No. See Barack Obama, he is half white highly educated and white America calls him uppity. Who can blame them if they stay in the closet. I say people are going to see you how they see you.

  9. Only Me says :

    This is a great article. I also think it’s sad that celebrity black gays/lesbians have to remain in the closet for fear of losing their careers. The down low would probably be a thing of the past if people could live their lives “OUT & Open” but hey, this is the USA. Land of the free, home of the brave, yeah right. I believe we need the voice of other celebrity gay/lesbians to help make a difference with the forth coming generations who is either hiding or wilding out because they have no guidance. “We the People”….Being gay or lesbian in 2008 shouldn’t be this great of an issue. How far have we really come as a society, as a country?

  10. Eric says :

    reply to Don:

    You said, regarding Barack Obama, that “white America calls him uppity.” Two things: (1) You can probably count on two hands the number of white folks who call him “uppity”, and (2) if this is how a large portion of white Americans perceive him, then how can it be that (majority white) America is about to vote him into office as President?

    You should realize that we are no longer in the 20th century.

  11. allan says :

    i think it is wrong for people who judge tracy because of her own private rather than to love her and her beautiful music of which many black artist can’t do or do not sing it.tracy chapman’s music is listinable im a favourate fan of rock music

  12. Melissa says :

    Your article is passionately conveyed and you express yourself beautifully.

    I have been a huge Tracy fan since her debut and couldn’t care less about her sexual orientation, however there seems to be a general misconception resonating from the ’80s that Tracy is a man! What is more interesting is that this seems to be the concensus among people who are into her music while people who know her for ‘fast car’ or ‘baby can I…’ are ambivalent. Yes, she has a baritone voice and is not a ‘sexy’ pop singer because after all, as alternative folk goes, most of her well known songs are easily digestible hence appealing to the masses who like their female singers to secretly want them, hehe just kidding but you get my tanktop “ooh it’s DRIFTY in here” idea!

  13. Brumfield says :

    The article gloss over facts. Charlie Pride is Black. He is not gay. Few Blacks attended his concerts when he was riding on top of the Country & Western charts. Johnny Mathis is gay….he has appeared in most Black publications. James Baldwin was gay…his plays were well received by Black audiences. Most Blacks like most folks have limited entertainment resources. Therefore, they chose what appeal to them. It’s more about taste rather than who is straight or gay…I am a Black who refuses to be boxed in by people who have axes to grind….be it Blacks or Whites! The gay issue is a preference issue….same as heterosexual….who we have sex with is of our choosing….and should not be subjects of public discourses. To think that people ask themselves the sexual preference of individuals before they can be entertain by them is a relic of Jim crowism….What Bradley effect….Obama rested that non-sense! Ms. Price the Opera singer drew mostly White Audiences..yet, she was lionized in the Black Community. Facts are stored in history….one should not proclaim only on current topics. One voice does not speak for all of us….We are varied people…Not stereotypical as the article attempted to resurrect!

  14. Jim says :

    My being here may surprise some. I was looking up info about Tracy Chapman and came across this Web site. I read the article with interest. For the record, I am a white, straight male 71 years old, occasionally conservative. I may or may not be representative of my peers. I suspected Luther Vandross was gay but that was irrelevant. I enjoyed him as an entertainer and great singer. For decades, “we” suspected Johnny Mathis was gay, but who cared? He was (and still is) a great singer. On Public Television, he recently referred to his “partner” and mentioned a man’s name. I don’t think the “older” white community really cares about sexual orientation of entertainers. In my era, entertainers’ lives were pretty private unless they got busted–like Johnny Ray of the 1950s. I think it’s the younger people who seem to care, probably because half of today’s news is about celebrities and for whatever reason, young people “want to know.”

    Oh, as for the assertion that white people call President Obama “uppity”: I call him MISTER PRESIDENT.

  15. Phoenix says :

    So it is not racist for you to say you do not connect with white lesbians, but it is racist if the white gay community thinks they’re different from black gay people/does not connect with them?

    I haven’t found this to be the case where I live anyway (East England) – my local gay community is as multicultural as the area around it – there are some asians, some africans, but more european gays, which works in proportion with the county. I have never noticed any discrimination on the grounds of colour in the local gay haunts.

    And as for Tracy Chapman – I get that being ‘out’ helps other people, and increases visibility etc, but maybe it does not need to be so explicit – we KNOW Chapman is gay, or at least has certainly had gay relationships. The messages of her songs are not really to do with that most of the time, though I suppose maybe she should not play the pronoun game with lovesongs (it always seems to be ‘you’…) and say ‘she’ for a couple of them, if that’s what she means.

  16. Francine says :

    Hi sweetie. Imagine my surprise when I did a search for a well known celebrity and found your blog.How are you my darling?

  17. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Hi Francine my dear cousin how are you? I am doing well! What have you been up to? Thanks for checking out my blog!

  18. Leslye M. Huff says :

    I met Tracey Chapman in Bloomington, Indiana at the Indiana Women’s Music Festival years ago – she was an opening act – she sang many of the songs that later appeared on her first album. They announced that she was from Cleveland, Ohio & so am I! Moreover, I was then a member of “Oven Productions” one of the oldest “women’s (read ‘lesbian feminists’) non-profit producers of “women’s music & culture” in the country! OVEN PRODUCTIONS still exists today! although it’s not very active – In those days, we produced musical concerts with nationally known artists and also local talent, art exhibits, poetry, lesbian comedians, and plays. As an African American, one of only two women of color members, I was always in a struggle with other members to increase the number of Black women & other women of color whose work we produced. We were the first to bring Sweet Honey in the Rock & Linda Tillery to Cleveland.
    the fact that I had never heard of Tracey who lived in my town really upset me… She was astounding! She captured the audience – I don’t even remember who she opened for! As a Black lesbian feminist, I knew it was important to help her perform in Cleveland! I so, I asked her why I had never heard her sing in Cleveland and asked if she would let OVEN produce her in concert. I will paraphrase her response: They beat me up in Cleveland, Ohio, I am never going back. I told her I enjoyed her music and made no further inquiries.
    Years later, she did perform here… I still love her music.
    So, Tracey, if you are reading this, Come home! ;-)

  19. Speaking plainly says :

    I am a black, heterosexual, believing woman. (I say “believing” as opposed to “Christian” b/c “Christian” is over-claimed and under-lived/practiced and not all so-called Christians believe or submit to the Word of God.)
    I enjoy Tracy Chapman’s music. I find it soulful and soothing. At the same time, I accept what God has said in His Word about His position on sexual immorality, including homosexuality. He’s made it plain; there’s really nothing to add, subtract or consider.
    Contrary to what other posters suggest, it is possible to appreciate an artist and regard him/her well without compromising one’s own beliefs or validating those lifestyle choices of theirs (the artist) that God has judged as sinful and contrary to His way. (Your sister, whom you love dearly, is convinced that it is right and fine to continue the wrong way down a one-way road. Well, the truth is obvious to you! It’s not right or fine (not to mention safe). Are you going set aside what you know to be true and adopt/embrace the error of her thinking because you love her? No! And not doing so is not cause mistreat your sister or love her any less. Ya might wanna get out the car though. *smiling*)
    My position, therefore, is not based on prejudice or blind, foolish and destructive hatred; it’s based on love and reverence for God and His Holy Word.
    Tracy Chapman is a creation of God, blessed with wonderful talent. She is also in rebellion/sin. Full stop. God calls us to hate sin; God, too, calls us to love “the sinner,” which describes, as you may know, the entirety of mankind. Tracy will meet with God’s judgment. As will I. As will you. Read the Word. Get understanding. Be ready. Full stop.

  20. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Speaking plainly, I can understand your perspective that you personally do not agree with homosexuality. The purpose of my blog is to promote discussion. Of course, I disagree with your perspective. However, how can you claim you are a fan of Tracy Chapman when you criticize her this way? Just because Tracy Chapman is a lesbian does not mean she should not be respected. Due to homophobia, Tracy has been silent about her lesbianism for all these years because of homophobia.

    You quote the bible which is filled with so many different interpretations. You are entitled to your own opinion about Tracy Chapman but my opinion is your comment reeks of homophobia. Tracy has always spoken out against racial injustice against black people in her music just because she is a lesbian doesn’t mean you have a right to judge her.

  21. jettt says :

    “Why Are So many black gay and lesbian stars still in the closet?”
    The same reason the white ones are……MONEY LOL!

  22. Bob Sanders says :

    Your an idiot. That’s like saying Justin Timberlake needs to announce he’s straight. It’s no ones business, get a life!

  23. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Bob Sanders there is no need for you to be rude to make your point. Justin Timberlake is a white heterosexual male he has nothing to do with my article. My piece is specifically about the fact black LGBT people we are marginalized in a racist and homophobic society.

  24. Bob Sanders says :

    Well sorry if I came off as rude, I just find it rediculous for someone to be looked down upon for not stating something to the world that is their own business and no one elses. “Tracy Chapman has never denied she is a lesbian, but she hasn’t exactly been open about her sexuality either.” I just dont understand the relavance. Justin Timberlake has not stated he is straight, so therefore I should be confused/upset about why he doesn’t tell everyone in a public statement? Wanting someone to come out just says that you want to know either way to decide how to treat them, when it shouldnt matter because they should be treated the same.

    • orvillelloyddouglas says :

      Bob Sanders, I am not “looking down” on Tracy Chapman I respect Tracy Chapman. I love Tracy Chapman she is one of my favourite singers! However, I am not sure if you understand my perspective. The mainstream LGBT community is white dominated it does not relate to my life experience as a black gay person. Advocate, Out Magazine, MTV LOGO, the gay media blogs they ignore the concerns of black gays and lesbians.

      I cannot relate to k.d. Lang or Melissa Etheridge coming out they are white and not black. Black LGBT people we are invisible and displaced in two communities. There are millions of closeted black LGBT people across this world. We deal with the racism of the mainstream culture, the hypocritical racism of the gay culture, and the homophobia within the private sphere of the black community.

      Of course, it would be nice if famous black LGBT come out of the closet. The reason why it would be nice is just a form of affirmation that “yes” there are people in the public sphere that are black and gay. If Tracy Chapman did come out it would mean the world to millions of black LGBT people. After all, Chapman is so political about racism and social injustice yet she is so reticent about her lesbianism. The question is why?

      My piece was about the intersection of race, class, and sexual orienation. We live in a racist homophobic society where whiteness and heterosexuality is privileged. The article is questioning why famous black LBGT people are hiding in the closet and not coming out? My piece is arguing it isn’t just because of “privacy” why black LGBT celebrities hide in the closet. The issue is a lot deeper and more political than people realize. I am simply asking questions in an open space.

      Justin Timberlake doesn’t have to “say” he is straight because we live in a heterosexist culture. Society automatically “assumes” Timberlake is straight since straight people have straight privilege. Timberlake is very open about his heterosexuality he does not hide his famous A list starlet girlfriends.

      The reason I started off my piece writing about Tracy Chapman is because although she is famous she is private about her lesbianism. Also, Bob did you click on the link to the Guardian newspapaer article? Alice Walker she is Tracy Chapman’s ex girlfriend she talks in detail about her romantic relationship with Chapman. Alice Walker spoke the truth she said Chapman was her ex girlfriend. Alice Walker’s statement proves Chapman is a lesbian.

  25. Bob Sanders says :

    Your whole article is based on an assumption with more assumptions added on top, even if many think it is likely she is a lesbian. I really dont mean to come off as confrontational, but it really bothers me that people need to know her business and when people assume how she lives her life. How do you think she would feel if she is straight and read your article? Probably pretty wierded out.

  26. Von says :

    Director Lee Daniels is out and proud. You’re right there are more celebrities that we assume or know of to be gay and I’ve always said that is a personal matter, but what gets me is the homophobia from our Bible toting community who really doesn’t know a thing about love.

    I also believe they’re afraid to lose their fan base if they were to come out. It must be miserable to live that way. I don’t understand why people are obsessed with who’s gay and I hear it all the time? I don’t read the gossip blogs, but you know that’s their number one subject.

    I hear people at work with their comments against our gay co-workers and I tell them to stop judging them. I often ask these individuals does them being gay make them less than human and would you want someone to treat you like that?

    I see so much pain that masks itself in the form of alcoholism and drug use in our community because men and women don’t have the courage to come out for fear of the ridicule.

    Great blog post and your honesty is infectious, we need more of it. BTW, Tracy,k.d.Lang and Meshell are also my favorites.

  27. Fiona says :

    Luther Vandross was not gay! Get over it.

  28. eppie says :

    Judge and you shall be judged-i think wat we all seem to forget is that hormosexuality is not a choice-it is inborn, if it was optional do yu think Luther Vandros with all the screaming women around him would have chosen to be gay-as for Tracy, i think she has made it plain CLEAR that she is a lesbian even without putting it into words for just one reason-we, the world are stereotypical Yet we should remain knowing that neither of us is PERFECT and let us rather embrace the great art associated with these icons and not judge them-for none of us has been in their shoes-who knows if yu were Tracy or Luther you could have done even much worse….

  29. Tinky Tink says :

    I am a bisexual black woman, and I may defer from this particular blog to get my steam off. First off, you’re right. It is double hard for a black lesbian to gain respect from the black community. Its already hard to be black; to be bi/lesbian is much harder. I’m not into Tracy Chapman’s work, but I respect her nonetheless because she is a lesbian, and doesn’t care what others think. My big problem is this: The same black men who criticize lesbians are all too willing to have threesomes with women, or orgies, or go on websites. And the same black women who in front of their friends denounce gays and lesbians secretly have had a desire to go to the other side. Don’t quote the Bible, read the Word and check the verse again before you start talking. Lesbianism was almost unheard of before the 16th century; are you sure they were talking about homosexuality? Ponder on that.

  30. neenee says :

    Who cares it does not stop them from what they do or their TALENT what does that have to do with anything ( the price of beans)

  31. Paula says :

    i liked a lot your post, so interesting and surprising. I’m spanish and i had no idea she wasn’t respected or admired by her comunity (if we generalize). Here is so loved! I knew her when I was 8 years old and has been always in my heart.

  32. nadia says :

    Loved the write up, what thoughtful and inspired… I had no idea the backlash Tracy suffered, and still suffers for being ‘butch lesbian’. I see her as lesbian, and like you have just always known. It’s weird, but as a lesbian you sort of just know. It’s almost like we slow motion things down, and see it in the slight movements, gestures, even expressions. Seems silly, but it’s true, we do. In a world where 1 out 10 is gay, believe me, finding a mate, you’d have to perfect your locating devices too. smile. Gaydar. But i don’t see her as ‘butch butch’… just a tom boy sort of lesbian. But than I’ve not sat with her, and sharing one on one time, so I am just going by the visuals I see. So if you say she’s a butch lesbian, than i’ll take your word for it. I wish she was accepted more, embraced more, since she truly fights for her race, and for all minorities. I, have to admirt, I assumed the black community was more accepting. I am ‘native canadian’, and lesbian… and it was the christian part of my family that freaked out, but the spiritual native part, just said ‘oh nadia is two spirited, we knew that’. ha. But I guess I was naive, and assumed that the black community was spiritual like ours, and would have a understanding of difference. Thank you for opening my awareness, and for showing me the sacrifices Tracy has made. Has she ever been on Oprah? Oprah has a way of ‘opening’ the communities to artist and musicians. Or does she just choose to be quiet and refrained? That might also be it. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be on covers and broadcast her face, but her music in her method. I don’t know. Thanks anyways for the opening, into something I knew very little about, but have always been curious.

  33. nadia says :

    Also it’s easy for straight people to say OH why is sexuality important… it’s easy to say that when everything you do is acknowledged and even celebrated. the smallest thing, from a date, a new partner, a break out, anything. but when it happens for a gay person, no one, seems to acknowledge it. it’s almost blinded to it. like they hope if they don’t look they won’t see it. My cousin who is straight, has broken up twice this year and each time, the WHOLE family gets up to support her. But i broke up over a year ago, from a 6 year relationship, and well, also have been dating a new person for a few months, but NO one in my family has asked or said even “is she nice”. Nothing. So it’s easy to say ‘it doesn’t matter if tracy is gay or not’, when your straight and everything you do is accepted. But when yo live i a world of silence, than screaming sometimes is the only way to be heard.

  34. Thom Topham says :

    Excellent piece – and about time too! As a white singer/songwriter who happens to be gay, I’ve worked with many talented, gay, black singers here in the UK, many of whom are ‘out’. I could reel off a big, long list of black male American R&B and hip-hop artists who are gay (and I KNOW!) but no-one would believe me! Also, they might sue me! Donny Hathaway, one of the greatest singers of all time, was gay. Tragically, he committed suicide. Marvin Gaye lived up to his name, but was confused about his sexuality. He was shot dead by his preacher father who was IN DRAG! Does it get any weirder than that? I met Luther’s long-term boyfriend once – he was white, as it happens. If you’re in London check Bootylicious and Queer Nation – great, polysexual, multi-racial club nights. I love M’shell too.

  35. angellique says :

    I don’t think Tracy Chapman’s lack of acceptance has anything to do with her sexuality; I don’t know many successful socially conscious straight artists in R&B. Her music would mean folks had to listen to lyrics and that just doesn’t happen.

    I think Luther is different in that his music was tied to sex appeal. The idea is that we wouldn’t like his songs if we didn’t picture him singing them to us. This is silly since he wasn’t a sex symbol and everyone knew he was gay.

    I do hate the concept of needing to come out (heteros don’t do it) but I think they should feel comfortable enough to be themselves wherever they want. Don’t deny yourself even if you’re not ready to discuss it in interviews.

  36. Thom Topham says :

    ‘Everyone knew Luther was gay’? Of course, within the blah blah gay community, but outside it, not particularly. They just thought he was ‘show biz’, probably. Did ‘everyone’ ‘know’ that Little Richard was homosexual (the term ‘gay’ didn’t get ‘invented’ until around 1969, according to my memory banks) in the 50s and 60s and beyond? Of course not. How about Liberace, or his latter-day incarnation Barry Manilow? I shudder to think!

  37. so very true says :

    i hope these actresses whoever they are, stay in the closet. i would not want to know anyway. it is very disgusting as it is that we have so many lesbians now out there. it is bad enough, for us good straight men that are trying to meet decent women now.

  38. Not true says :

    well im black and i had no idea she was rejected by the black community. she is verry well loved by everyone where im from and in canada here i never hear blacks rejecting her.I understand your argument somewhat but BET and most of the major music magazenes and other media is in “America” i love tracey and youre telling me that because im black im rejecting her?

  39. Not true says :

    but i actually see BET supporting gays in black music. theres a song on there bout a gay couple who commit suicide. The story is all played out in the song that was followed by a message bout human rights and a letter from the guy’s friend.

  40. Not true says :

    nadia, you have to look at the situation on a cultural perspective. its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Religion of all types has been the basics of our cultural influence throughout all mankind.I ask you to count back through the thousands of decades since the begining.
    Religion has influenced our lives in all areas including sexuality.There have been times when the bible was adjusted in order to accomodate new ideas that changed the western/christian world drastically.(just giving you and idea of how powerful religion is).
    The only way to change the mentaliy of a people is to teach new ideas to the new generation.
    Remember christopher collumbus got persecuted by the church for declaring that the world was spherece and not “FLAT”
    Earlier in history the Scientist who discovered that the earth revolved around the sun and the sun was the center of our solar system and not the “earth”, was also persecuted by the church.
    I believe in God and respect his law but i also believe in human rights cause Gods law teaches human rights.
    Human rights does not exclude gays.
    People have all rights to live the way want as long as they are not violating anyone,and in my openion;God is the only one to Judge.Thats what many religous people should acknowledge.
    As for getting people to open up or conform to new concieps of life; Good luck!

    It took us blacks over 400 years and millions of human sacrifices to change our status and gain human rights in the west. Dont forget the struggle of women. since the begining of times women did not even have “rights” to fight for in the first place.Women have come very far but the struggle still continue especially in the middle east.(im just going by what i watched on amnesty) by the way. even in the western world and a country as developed as America, there are still men who dont acknoledge women’s rights.

    I could speak of many different groups who experienced redicule and persecution cause weve all been victims some time or another but my point is; When gays have accomplished what they fight for and new concieps are assimilated by the latter generation, then the mentality of the people will change.

  41. Gabriel Duchamp says :


  42. Innergy Centre says :

    Tracy Chapman is awesome, a total artist with a long list of accomplishments for people, regardless of any category. The tendency in the USA is to put everyone in boxes and give them labels, so they can be judged. That’s why Tracy is so popular internationally. She hasn’t forgotten where she came from, but she’s never restricted herself to any one environment. When it comes to Tracy and others in the public eye, all that matters is their artistry, their performance, and their ability to generate positive energy that touches others who have open minds and hearts. Those with closed off minds will have to catch up later or not at all, doesn’t really matter. Labels are so archaic; let’s appreciate artists like Tracy for her music and stay out of her personal life, as we would like others to stay out of our lives.

  43. ordijeh says :

    its a pitty people still inhabit that dark spot in this world of judging and questioning people of their sexuality! The fact dat u are nt gay dosn’t make u a better person, personaly i dnt blame tracy champman and d rest of them for hanging low! The persecution and truama in d aftermath of the the whole issue wont b good!

  44. chikamba says :

    i think a lot of people just love to live life of pretense. a lot of people concentrate on criticizing other people’s sexuality instead of theirs. this is because they are afraid of what they might find: multiple sexual partners, prostitution, incest, rape, to mention but a few.
    one thing y’all must understand is that no one decides to be gay just the same way you don’t just decide to be heterosexual; we are all born that way.

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