Queen Latifah Officiated a Gay (and Straight) Wedding at the Grammys; She Didn’t Come Out

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Jan. 26 2014 11:24 PM

Queen Latifah Officiated a Gay (and Straight) Wedding at the Grammys; She Didn’t Come Out

One of the most surprising aspects of the bizarre group wedding of 33 couples that took place  during the performance of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' “Same Love” just outside prime time during Sunday’s Grammy Awards telecast was the identity of its officiator: Queen Latifah. Despite years of speculation (and on my part at least, some serious wishful thinking) that she’s a lesbian, Latifah has consistently refused to make any kind of public statement about her sexuality. Given that attitude, wasn’t it strange for her to take such a public pro-gay stance?

Not really. Although Latifah won’t talk about her own relationships, she hasn’t avoided the topic of homosexuality or slammed the community. As she told Alex Witchel in a 2008 New York Times Magazine profile: “I don’t have a problem discussing the topic of somebody being gay, but I do have a problem discussing my personal life. … I don’t care if people think I’m gay or not. Assume whatever you want. You do it anyway.”

When her appearance at a 2012 Long Beach Gay Pride celebration was seen by some as a formal coming out, she denied that interpretation without resorting to homophobia. She told Entertainment Weekly: “That definitely wasn’t the case. I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen.” Still, she added, “To me, doing a gay pride show is one of the most fun things. My first show that paid more than $10,000 was in a gay club.”

When Latifah launched her daytime talk show in September 2013, the question was raised once again. Just one year earlier, Anderson Cooper had come out after starting a daytime talker. As I wrote then, “The modern talk-show format requires the host to offer the audience an endless series of tiny glimpses into their fabulous lives, a very slow-motion striptease of secrets.” But the Hollywood Reporter noted that one topic would remain “off limits” on The Queen Latifah Show: the host’s sexual orientation. “There's the part of my life that the public and I share together. And there's the part that's mine to keep for myself," she told the magazine.

At least she’s consistent.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. Follow her on Twitter.