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MUSTO: 10 bogus reasons Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott can’t come out

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Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot (Facebook profile images)

It seems like almost everyone famous is out these days—but not Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott. The two rapper/singer/everythings have long floated through the changing landscape while clinging to their closet with a sort of half-hearted determination. It’s almost like they want to come out, but just can’t seem to get there. I admire them both a lot and would love for us to be able to more openly celebrate them as part of the community. But I’ve heard lots of reasons defending their reticence through the years, and I’m here to take issue with them. For example:

THE HIPHOP WORLD IS HOMOPHOBIC

Well, a lot of worlds are homophobic. The whole world is homophobic. But you can fight that by being honest. You can educate rather than pander. Why would you want to continue appealing to homophobes anyway? If a fan wouldn’t like you anymore if you said you’re a lesbian or bisexual, do you really want to court that fan? A lot of celebrities have found freedom in the openness, and would never turn back.

THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO TELL WHO THEY SLEEP WITH

They still wouldn’t have to. Coming out simply involves saying “I’m queer.” You don’t need to go into detail about what you do with whom—unless you want to, of course, in which case I’m all ears.

IT’S THEIR OWN BUSINESS

Yeah, but they are public figures who are examined and talked about and who reveal things about themselves all the time. Missy has spoken about her Graves’ disease, while Latifah discusses how her brother’s death led to her (then-) depression and drug use. But queerness? No, too personal. To make same-sex love the cutting off point of revelations strikes me as downright creepy. And if a straight celeb is asked about something straight—or chooses to tell about it (which they always do)—no one finds it any kind of transgression. Years ago, I interviewed Missy and was warned in advance by the publicist that questions about her personal life were off limits. I knew what that meant—and I had never heard it from anyone else, by the way.

THEY’VE ALREADY COME OUT

No, they haven’t. Coming out means saying it on the record, not just showing up at queer events and supporting causes or sitting with a woman. The support is nice, but I feel all that is invalidated if you act as if the words “I’m queer” are unspeakable.

EVERYONE KNOWS THEY’RE OUT

That’s not true—some people even still think the Village People were all straight—but let’s say it’s true and everyone knows Latifah and Missy are out. Then what the hell is the problem with saying it???

BUT LATIFAH ALREADY DID A PRIDE EVENT

Yeah, it was a paid gig. A lot of performers do Pride events. That is not a coming out any more than me appearing at a Hamptons synagogue this past summer made me Jewish.

IT’LL HURT THEIR CAREERS

Well, I grew up in a more idealistic time when career and money weren’t everything—ethics and doing the right thing actually counted, even for celebrities. Especially from celebrities. Aside from that, Latifah and Missy have been around so long that it would probably help their careers if they came out. There would be a bump of big publicity and they could stop dancing around the issue, while also emboldening LGBTQ youth who look to them for signals. Besides, didn’t the openly gay Lil Nas X have the record of the year? Thank u, next. And by the way, yes, I do write a LOT about white celebrities too, having outed people starting in the ‘80s and ‘90s, including Rosie O’Donnell, Boy George, Ellen Degeneres,  George Michael, Jodie Foster, and moving on to Anderson Cooper, Shepard Smith, and many more. Those folks all came out, as did some black celebs, though the late, great Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston—whom I also wrote about—never did, and I think that was because of a still lingering wrongheaded sense that the black market can’t handle it. (Not that white celebs don’t still cower, and believe me, I will keep covering them.)

IT’S SALACIOUS, PRURIENT, AND IN BAD TASTE

No, it isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with being queer. Why is it always the gay stuff that gossip lovers suddenly feel crosses a line? And besides, I didn’t make these people queer—I’m just saying they are.

THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THEY WANT

So true. And I can do whatever I want. Which is say, “Come out already! This is tiresome!”

EVERYONE COMES OUT IN THEIR OWN TIME

Yeah, but in my lifetime would be great. In their lifetimes would be good too. And then they can get the inevitable GLAAD award for their courage.

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Television

AIDS @40- “It’s a Sin”: Drama at the beginning of the AIDS crisis

The show, which features a largely LGBTQ cast, shines a light on a dark chapter that’s been fading from memory.

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Graphic via CBS News Sunday Morning

LONDON – CBS Sunday Morning reports on the acclaimed HBO Max series, “It’s a Sin.” Produced by the originator of the hit British series ‘Queer As Folks,’ “It’s a Sin” tells the story of a group of gay men and their friends who live and love in London in the early 1980s, at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The show, which features a largely LGBTQ cast, shines a light on a dark chapter that’s been fading from memory. CBS Correspondent Imtiaz Tyab talks with the show’s producer-writer, Russell T. Davies, and with two of its stars: Neil Patrick Harris and Lydia West.

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Online Culture

Digital platform joins with It Gets Better for Pride-themed content

The online world can be a scary place, and it can still be difficult to “find your people” there without a little help

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Graphic provided by StreamElements

LOS ANGELES – The age of online communication has made it easier for LGBTQ+ people to connect with their community than ever before. This is especially valuable for young people, who don’t feel safe being out in their real-life environment, or who are isolated, whether by geography or prevailing social attitudes, from larger LGBTQ+ populations. Yet the online world, just like the real one, can be a scary place, and it can still be difficult to “find your people” there without a little help.

That’s why StreamElements, a platform which powers over 1.1 million digital content creators across Twitch, YouTube Live, and Facebook Gaming, is stepping up to provide assistance. The company is partnering with the It Gets Better Project for a new campaign that aims to help create safer and more inclusive LGBTQ spaces online, providing support for the community during Pride Month and beyond. 

As part of the campaign, StreamElements is:

  • Donating $25,000 to the It Gets Better Project and 100% of the proceeds from Prime-themed merchandise. It Gets Better, of course, is a nonprofit organization that leverages the power of media to reach and provide critical support and hope to LGBTQ+ young people around the world.
  • Collaborating with and commissioning graphics from LGBTQ+ artists Jaime Hayde and Andrea Marroquín, which will be used on special merchandise items for charity and shared with the broader streaming community for use in their individual merch stores.
  • Creating special overlays and alerts that feature the Pride-themed art for livestreamers to use on their channels. This “SuperTheme” can be used at various stages of a livestreamed broadcast and incorporates art from Hayde.
  • Spotlighting LGBTQ+ creators throughout the month via its social media channels, highlighting their work and including videos where they will share their journey and comment on what Pride means to them.

The initiative was spearheaded Sean Horvath, CRO of StreamElements and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, who says, “Pride has always been an important part of my life. Seeing StreamElements partner with LGBTQ+ content creators and the highly impactful Its Gets Better Project to drive social change is a significant milestone, especially for myself and many other members of our staff who are part of the community we’re celebrating. Our goal with this campaign is to not only shine a light on all the amazing things Pride represents, but to continue our previous commitment to supporting diversity by ensuring the efforts we put forward are prominent year-round.”

You can find out more at the StreamElements website.

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Sports

Out track star heads to Tokyo as video of her hugging her Gran goes viral

Her moment of victory and celebration with her Gran was caught on video and later shared thousands of times on Twitter

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Sha'Carri Richardson (Screenshot via NBC Sports on YouTube)

EUGENE, Or. – A 21-year-old out female sprinter is headed to the summer Olympic games in Tokyo after winning the 100-meter heat and securing a coveted spot as part of the U.S. women’s team in the Olympic trials that were held at the newly renovated Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene this past weekend.

Sha’Carri Richardson, a former Louisiana State University (LSU) sprinter put on an amazing run, afterwards telling NBC News Sports that her biological mother died just a week before the qualifying Olympic trials. Richardson, who celebrated her win by running up the Hayward Field stairs to hug her grandmother, says that family means everything.

“My family has kept me grounded,” Richardson said. “This year has been crazy for me. Going from just last week losing my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dream, still coming out here and still trying to make the family that I still have on this earth proud.”

Her moment of victory and celebration with her Gran was caught on video and later shared thousands of times on Twitter including by Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The sprinter also took time to thank her girlfriend who she had said inspires her, and also picked out her hair color. “My girlfriend actually picked my [hair] color,” Richardson said. “She said it like spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am.”

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