Kerry Washington on Lesbian Rumors, Gay Rights and Homophobia in The Advocate

Truth rating: 10
(Getty Images)

By Daniel Gates

(Getty Images)

Kerry Washington opens up about lesbian rumors, gay rights, and 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.”

“You don’t have to agree with me, but if you come at me with hatred and slurs, I will block you [on Twitter],” explains the actress. Because she keeps her private life private, and because she’s played gay characters on screen, Washington was rumored to be lesbian herself before she married a man. “It’s interesting how much people long to fill in the gaps when someone in the public eye doesn’t share their personal life,” she tells the magazine. “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?'”

She asks, “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.” Asked whether she’s witnessed homophobia within the black community, Washington says, “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,” adds the star. The actress has encountered a number of closeted actors during her career. “I’ve actually talked with friends about the similarities between being closeted and the idea of passing in the black community,” says Washington. “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.”

She continues, “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.”

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