Scandal star Kerry Washington discusses homophobia in the black community in a wide-ranging new interview with The Advocate.
The newly married and pregnant “Scandal” star says that she’s publicly supported marriage equality and taken a stand against Russia’s new anti-gay laws because “When there are crimes against humanity being committed in the world, we are all so vulnerable. We have to look out for and protect each other.”
Washington also discusses closeted gay actors in Hollywood, why she supports marriage equality and those pesky lesbian rumors.
Check out some snippets from the interview below:
Homophobia within the black community gets a lot of attention. Have you witnessed it firsthand?
I have. In fact, something that brings me great joy is knowing what Scandal’s audience looks like in terms of African-American households and knowing that so many African-American people and families are being introduced to our characters James and Cyrus. It’s really exciting that millions of viewers each week are living life with this amazing, complex couple, stepping into their gay marriage and adoption experience, which is such a vital storyline in our show.
You’ve been in the business a long time. Have you known many closeted actors?
Sure. I’ve actually talked with friends about the similarities between being closeted and the idea of passing in the black community. Those in the black community who could pass for white often did so to get more opportunities in life, but it came at such a great cost. When you buy into the cultural idea of what’s acceptable and unacceptable, you reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices. That wouldn’t work for me. I don’t love to give advice to anyone because we all have to make our own choices, but I’d want to live my life in truth. But there also have to be changes within the Hollywood community. Casting directors and producers have to look beyond sexual orientation in the way that they’re just barely, barely beginning to look beyond race. Until Hollywood learns that actors are artists of transformation, it will continue to be limiting for minorities.
You’ve tweeted your support for marriage equality and your disappointment in Russia’s antigay laws. Why is it important to let people know where you stand?
When there are crimes against humanity being committed in the world, we are all so vulnerable. We have to look out for and protect each other.
Although you recently married a man, some gossips have assumed you must be a lesbian because you’re so notoriously private about your love life. Do you mind? [Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted before US Weekly’s exclusive report that Washington is pregnant and expecting her first child.]
It’s interesting how much people long to fill in the gaps when someone in the public eye doesn’t share their personal life. I understand their frustration. I like how people will post pictures of me with other women that I adore, hugging on red carpets, and say, “See?” Are we so uncomfortable with love between two people of the same gender that we immediately label it as sexual? But I’ve never been bothered by the lesbian rumor. There’s nothing offensive about it, so there’s no reason to be offended.