As long as there are celebrities, and people are curious about their lives, there will always be celebrity gossip.  The media has recently been a flutter with the rumour that Raven Symoné may potentially be in a same sex relationship with America’s Next Top Model beauty AzMarie Livingston.  Ms. Symoné took to Twitter recently to respond to the speculation.

 

 

Raven is not the only celebrity whose private life has been speculated about like this.  Will Smith, Queen Latifah, and Anderson Cooper all face ongoing questions about their sexuality and all have refused to comment, preferring instead to keep their private life private.  A refusal to answer in the minds of many constitutes affirmation that one is indeed a member of the LGBTQ community.

These inquires arise because we live in a heterosexist world, which assumes everyone is straight, thus turning homosexuality into something that must be divulged.  If a celebrity plays a role in which they are a LGBTQ character, or sits too close to someone of the same sex, the rumors are off and flying. Will Smith didn’t even actually kiss his co-actor in Six Degrees of Separation and has been married to Jada for many years, yet still people continue to question his sexuality.

There can be no doubt that out celebrities serve as positive reminders that LGBTQ people are present in our society.  In the case of LGBTQ youth, this can be especially helpful because it shows them that they are not alone, and that they are not deviant.  The pressure for an individual celebrity to come out, however, normally has very little to do with affirming the life of LGBTQ people and very much to do with marking them as “other.”

One never has to disclose being heterosexual, or having an affair with a person of the opposite sex. This of course aligns with the fact that no one ever has to come out as straight because heterosexuality is assumed.  The speculation about sexuality goes above and beyond the typical curiosity that the public has about celebrities.  There are several celebrities who are out now, though coming out can have extreme consequences to one’s career.  The attention is not focused on them to the degree that it is focused on those who might potentially be gay.  Instead, out celebrities must deal with the doubt that they are capable of playing straight characters –  as Sean Hayes discovered –  though the process of acting means taking on a different persona.  Actor Rupert Everett claims to be happier than actors who are closeted, but he asserted in 2009, “It’s not that advisable to be honest. It’s not very easy. And, honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out …”

For LGBTQ people, coming out can be a powerful experience. Coming out means the end of the closet; however, it is worth noting that once out, many still have to struggle to stay out, due to homophobia.  In an ideal world, the process of coming out wouldn’t even exist, or it would be a process that all people have to deal with.  This conversation began with the rumours circulating around Raven Symoné’s sexuality, but the truth is, speculation about sexuality is an everyday phenomenon.  One need not be a celebrity for people to begin gossiping about your sexuality, as though this is anyone’s business in the first place.

The fact that we don’t gossip that someone might be straight, evidences exactly how deviant a queer sexuality is understood to be socially.  No matter how far we think we have come, the demand that someone must come out, or the suggestion that they are being dishonest by their refusal to address something that is no one’s business in the first place is highly problematic. The way the conversation is framed positions a LGBTQ identity as something that must be defended against, rather than a simple occurrence in nature.  As long as this is the dominate attitude about sexuality, then LGBTQ people will forever be positioned as “other.”

I completely support the way that Raven Symoné has handled questions about her sexuality.  She is one hundred percent right, this is indeed a matter that concerns only her and the person she is involved with.  Being a celebrity does not give the world the right to have access to the intimate details of one’s life. It shouldn’t matter whether she is gay, bisexual, or straight.  With all of the consequences that come with being gay in a heterosexist world, no one should be pressured to declare for the purposes of the public’s curiosity.

98 Comments

  1. Leii diva

    Yup! She’s gay.

  2. Angie

    I think she’s gorgeous and I wish her all the happiness in the world!

  3. I think the reason people are curious about Raven’s sexuality is because they are

    connecting her work as an actress, which is family-oriented, G rated, and overall

    rainbows and unicorns, and Disney, emphasizes on the “D” word. So the assumption

    that she could be in a relationship like that(referring to the ANTM model) and it’s not

    making sense.

    People aren’t separating the two, they may think she’s the same person that she

    portrays on TV and that may not be true. She could be doing a lot of things we don’t

    know about, they are just behind closed doors and not made public.

    I think she addressed it well though, she’s not harming anyone, her personal is just

    that… her business

  4. Black Womanist

    First, celebrities forfeit their right to privacy. Second, you will be considered gay when you repeatedly take cozy pics with a known gay person. I would not be surprised if Homeland Security kicked in my door if I repeatedly posted pics of me in a sandy area, wearing a turban and toting bombs so Raven spare us the fake outrage. You know exactly why people are talking. This is yet another of your periodic sad attempts at being an adult. Grown folks are not paying attention to you. Your bread and butter is playing a kid and catering to kids. Don’t make your personal life public then say you want to be private. You are not fooling anyone but kids and yourself.

    • Raleway

      What? Since when does being an actress automatically mean your private life is everyone else’s business? And if she is straight, she’s not allowed to have friends of other sexual orientations? Clearly you don’t know a damn thing of which you speak.

    • isolde

      “This is yet another of your periodic sad attempts at being an adult. Grown folks are not paying attention to you. Your bread and butter is playing a kid and catering to kids.”

      @Black Womanist

      Sis, I see you, but that’s a whole. nother. thread.

      You don’t know how many times people have jumped down my throat every time I’ve said that Raven hasn’t done anything relevant since her sit-com wrapped. You know I stay kii-iing over the fact that out of that whole 3LW/ Cheetah Girls clique, Naturi Naughton is the one with the actual acting career. As long as Raven’s stans can hang on to that myth that she’s worth 400M dollars and she doesn’t curse in College Road Trip part 5, they’ll still hold her down, cause she’s “a good role model” and all.

      Being gay or bi would actually make her more interesting, although not as interesting as she would be if she were to star in a show that wasn’t on Disney channel or ABC family.

    • iQgraphics

      you said a lot, enough to warrant me agreeing with you and disagreeing with you

      first, celebs do not forfeit their right to privacy. if they want to showcase their prowess to the world via a certain skill set, then that’s what they choose to show to the world. Robert Downy Jr could have never made a comeback with the papparazi being on 24hr survailance the way that they are now. Times have changed, but these People do have a right to their privacy.

      but

      She did make something public, then when folks asked questions, she wanted to claim private domain. I agree with you there. that does not even make sense. if she wanted to tweet the photo, tweet the photo, if you then don’t wish to explain or answer questions, then don’t explain or answer questions.

      She should have not said anything.

  5. Violet

    Oh phooey! Please. How intellectualized this all is. Really it makes being Gay “special” and “different” and The Other”! And it in my opinion it’s just yet another way Black folks are showing their ambivalence and discomfort with homosexuality! Someone did say that White folks are not apt to wave the Gay flag! If that’s true it’s because White America has had personal freedom for so long. And that statement in of itself is an old prejudice in the Black community! I was really very celebratory upon hearing this about Raven Symone.And the relative ease that it was disclosed proving that it really is no big deal. There aren’t any African-American Gay celebrities(Wanda Sykes only)who are in the forefront-and that’s a damn shame. And I believe shame IS the operative word. President Obama’s support of Gay marriage was so wonderful on so many levels.

    • “There aren’t any African-American Gay celebrities(Wanda Sykes only)who are in the forefront-and that’s a damn shame. And I believe shame IS the operative word.” Yes, yes, and yes. I completely agree. Only heterosexuals could fail to understand what you just wrote.

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