Art imitates life? The show confronts what happens when the media thinks you're gay.
Monday night’s episode of Single Ladies, guest starring Queen Latifah, also the show’s executive producer, read like a potential scene from the rapper/actress/mogul’s life. Playing news anchor Sharon Love, with hopes of copping Oprah’s spot as a daytime talk show host, she unintentionally reveals that she once slept with her college roommate Val, played by Stacey Dash.
The blogosphere and the media are all abuzz about the plot line, speculating about her character’s sexuality, similar to what Latifah has experienced in her own life. For years people have whispered and questioned the star's sexual preference. She is often linked to and photographed out and about with trainer Jeanette Jenkins. And after Latifah's convincing turn as the openly gay Cleo in the 1996 movie Set It Off, many chins wagged that Latifah couldn’t be that good of an actress. But of course she made non-believers eat those words in 2002 when she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Chicago. So the question remained, is she or isn’t she?
On Single Ladies, her character discusses the pros and cons of sexual anonymity, saying initially that network executives backed away from her fictional talk show. But later in the episode she returns to Val with a scheme to pretend they’re in a relationship because she’s now discovered that “gay is the new black.” The character reveals, “Being gay is fabulous...I have six new Facebook fan pages. And for every sponsor that falls out, I’ve gotten two more.” The other side of the coin. Sure, there’s fear of judgment, being ostracized and career limitations, but the scene brings to mind real life stars that came out, like Rosie O’donnell, Ellen Degeneres, Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris. Note that there are no African Americans on that list.
Ultimately, does it even matter if Latifah is gay or not? To go from award winning rapper, to Oscar nominated actress to film/TV producer, Cover Girl and author of books encouraging young women’s self-esteem, do we really need her to confirm or deny anything? In the words of her 1989 debut album, All Hail the Queen!