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Coming out is harder now than ever, says Queen Latifah

Joe Williams August 13, 2015

The Grammy winning rapper and actress says she thinks homophobia is still as prevalent in the entertainment industry as it was half a century ago.

When discussing her role in the recent biopic of the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith – who was bisexual – Latifah said: “I think she was probably more open then than people are now.”

“It was a different era,” the star told the Metro, “but people weren’t as politically correct as they are now.”

However, the Chicago actress thinks that although people claim to be more open-minded, they are still as bigoted as they were fifty years – they have just learnt to “hide it” better.

“They can be just as racist, sexist and classist [sic] now as then but they just won’t say it in the same way now.

“They’ll kind of hide it.”

Talking of why she took the part of Smith, she said: “I’ve kind of been through some of the things that Bessie has been through.

“I’ve lived a little bit of her and I can speak from a more authentic place.”

She also said that she wishes more fellow rappers would “say more” about serious subjects and “go against the grain to keep things interesting.”

“It takes a little courage – people have to be brave enough to use their voices, not to be the status quo.”

She previously said of the film: “People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love. We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should.”

“The reality is that there’s always been gay people in the black community, so it’s not foreign to us. And not just as a black community but just a society as a whole.

“Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on. I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw.

“Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual so let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”

Latifah famously performed a mass gay wedding at the Grammys in 2014, helping dozens of same-sex couples to tie the knot.

Bessie is on Sky Atlantic tonight at 9pm.

More: Bessie Smith, celebrity, coming out, LGBT, Queen Latifah, US

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