Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyons, a gay R&B singer who has struggled all his life with his homophobic father in the Fox hit “Empire,” has led to viewers speculating about his own sexual orientation.
Rumors that Smollett is gay escalated last week when co-star Malik Yoba appeared to out him in a recent interview with BlackFilm.com. Yoba was forced to issue a statement that he was “misquoted” in the interview.
Until now, Smollett has refused comment, saying he didn’t want to discuss his personal life.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on Monday, conducted backstage following a guest appearance on the Ellen show, Smollett said he has never been “in the closet,” but stopped short of actually declaring himself to be gay:
“There’s never been a closet. That I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet, I got a dresser, but I don’t have a closet, but I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home. … So that’s why I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world. And that’s where I’m at.
“So, let’s not read into it in the wrong way when I say that I don’t talk about my personal life, I’m saying that. But it is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. You know? My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And, yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions? But honestly, we’re human and we love and we do all that good stuff. So I’m honored for this opportunity and I’m honored to be here with you.”