Tyler Perry on ‘Oprah’: Jumping to Conclusions

Some black women thought Tyler Perry came close to saying he was gay on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' last week, but others heard something very different. Why the disconnect?

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

As I watched Oprah Winfrey’s recent Tyler Perry interview, during which the filmmaker talked about being sexually and physically abused as a child by both men and women, I was listening for something specific. Some girlfriends of mine who had already watched the interview said they believed that Perry practically admitted he was gay right there on network television.

As it turns out, that’s not even close to what Perry was saying. He was talking about being victimized as a child and how that can severely tarnish how you see the world and how you see yourself.. But I have to admit, at first I heard what my friends heard.

Many black women probably had the same interpretation. That’s because many of us are borderline paranoid about black men and their sexuality. Whether or not a potential love interest is gay has become a common conversation among my friends.

Many of us have learned to ask our dates if they’ve ever been with another man, especially if we identify certain mannerisms, speech patterns, activities or acquaintances that arouse our suspicions. Even though these qualities are not true indications that a man is necessarily gay or bisexual, a man who smacks his lips a lot when he speaks does make me uncomfortable.

I’ve never been told “yes” when I asked a potential love interest about his relations with other men. But I have walked away from a few relationships because, while I had no proof the man was gay, I could not convince myself that he was not. 

How did we get here?

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