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.

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  • Lisa

    Please get over it! Raven is a celeb that means her private life isn’t private anymore. If you’re in the public eye people will talk about you. If you’re trying to hide something then people will speculate even more.

    • Lakyn

      But why is that okay? Why is it okay to get in someone else’s private business just because they’ve been in a few movies? Why can’t we treat their job as a job and ignore their lives when they’re off the clock?

  • ashley

    The thing is that straight people do announce their heterosexuality- straight celebs (or possibly bisexual celebrities – but most will assume they are straight if they are with an opposite sex partner) show up at events with romantic, opposite sex dates. It’s a big deal when they get married, and when they get divorced. It’s song lyrics and movie scripts. The difference isn’t that LGBTQ people are expected to announce their sexuality when others aren’t – it’s that no one recognizes the way that sexuality is being announced all the time, and that LGBTQ people are the ones who get othered because of it.

  • Mr Jay

    What an over oversimplification. She gets talked about just like everybody else. Period point blank.

  • For Real

    @ Ashley. Agreed. Well said.

  • ms_micia

    Like with any celebrity “outing” or sexual controversy the shock normally lies in how the image of that celebrity is portrayed. We’re not talking about Kim Kardashian or Amber Rose we’re talking about Disney kid star turned adult actor who’s whole career and image has been manufactured to make US (the dumb idiot consumers) believe she was a wholesome, heterosexual, “good girl”. That’s not what we expected of her that the image she and her people concocted for herself. I’m irritated with people who somehow feel it’s just her right as a person to simply “live her life”. I say fine, come out and say your a lesbian then. Come out and life openly and honestly instead of having little girls buy your music and play with your dolls and support you financially with an image that has nothing to do with who you really are. Disney has been selling us dreams for decades now, beginning with the Britney, Xtina clan, then her, then Miley and so on. It’s safe to say that most of what an actor or artist “say” they are is totally bs. I feel that alot of these people lead EXTREME double lives and choose to sell the public whatever they feel suits their interest and their pockets. By the way, she’s never transitioned into the adult market. She still corners the tween, young adult Disney market with her movies and merchandise so lets not act as if this revelation wouldn’t hurt her image it would. Let’s sit back and wait for more “bisexual” and homosexual stars to all of a sudden start owning up to it, years after their image has served its purpose. *eyeroll* And to think, I fell for the okey dokey too. I gotta say I am disappointing but I shouldn’t be given that Hollyweird is full of fakes and phonies. *sigh*

    • DivaD

      I agree and cosign with everything you said. i also want to point out to the world that hello, CELEBRITIES BECOME and or CONTINUE on the celeb/fame/entertainment path because they WANT to. Raven could have decided to do like Keisha Knight Pulliam, go to school, get out of the limelight, MAYBE do a few commercials or really small roles (the mag or two) but generally just really live her life, but she chose not to. This issue is NOT whether she is gay or bi or not but that celebs ALWAYS take this approach when they dont mind sharing all other aspects of their lives.

      This could hurt her career if she “outs” herself because of the nature of her career. If she chooses a change in career path catering to the more adult audience maybe doing some Tyler Perry movies and using some of that massive cleavage she’s got for some photoshoots (and I AM jealous the girl is gorgeous) it would actually HELP her career; but in light of the fact that she is still in the tween and teen market she can’t come “out” without probably getting dropped by Disney.

      If she is gay or bi, that’s her business, but celebs need to stop with the canned PR responses. Instead, be very very selective where and when you are photographed. I remember Alicia keys did an interview saying when you see pics fluttering around TV and the net or hear people talking about who’s been seen with who its because those people WANT to be seen. In NYC for example there are so many hundreds of restaurants, night clubs and hotels, but why do celebs always seem to get “caught” at a few of them with someone they “aren’t supposed to”? BECAUSE IT’s publicity! Maybe Raven does have a career move in the works, and thats why these pics are surfacing. If she didnt really want to be seen or better yet, didnt want to talk about it, she just wouldn’t and thats it.