Several people have attacked Patti LaBelle for revealing that Luther Vandross was gay. Their reason; he had a right to keep his sexuality a secret? Then why did he tell her? What most people in the community fail to realize is perhaps it’s the “secret” that killed him. How is it determined that he actually even wanted to keep his sexuality a secret by fans instead of his actual friends like LaBelle? Fans knew his music, LaBelle knew HIM. There is a HUGE difference.
Patti is coming from a place of love to let the community know how deep of an issue this is. She didn’t betray Luther she did him and the next generation of black gay or bi entertainers AND the black community a favor. She brought his truth to light because he was unable to do it. His mother is no longer here. The revelation that Vandross didn’t want to disappoint his mother or his fans speaks volumes about his shame, guilt and fears in concert with superstardom. This drives the point home that nobody “chooses” to be gay it chooses them. Anytime someone’s sexuality drives them to destructive behavior it’s not a “choice” it’s a massive conflict.
Vandross was living half a life. He could not be who he was and he was ashamed and hiding but what happened when he sang in the wheelchair after the stroke was most unfortunate it was over for him and there was not going to be a do-over. One can only wonder if he was asking himself if the journey to be who others wanted him to be was really worth it. The same thing with Whitney when she lost her voice. The fans who think Patti betrayed Luther owe it to themselves to look deeper and MORE at public perception in the black community on the LGBTQ community.
Gay black children and teenagers have killed themselves when they have been bullied about being gay. They have been kicked out of the house and the community when they came out. It’s hard to imagine a black teenager would “choose” to be homeless by choosing to be gay. Did they choose to be gay? No, but they did choose to kill themselves because of it. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply revert back to being straight if it’s such an easy choice instead of committing suicide?
Quite often strokes, heart attacks, cancer and other forms of death are not caused by happenstance they are often the end result. Perhaps the lesson in all of it is not to attack Patti but to live and let live.