Monifah Lets It All Hang Out in ‘R&B Divas’

Whether talking about sex, drugs or R&B, the '90s singer says there's no shame in her game.

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M: My daughter is saved and she’s a new Christian. God is working with her and through her in different ways. She’s a young woman, she’s shaped by her experiences and so she believes in a certain thing. She’s 21 and has a lot of living to do. I’m older, and I understand because my ideals aren’t the same now as they were when I was 20. She has to live a little more and she’s going by the book, so to speak.

I have to respect what she believes because I taught her to stand on her own and speak her mind. And who would I be to fight her on that? I’m her mother. She’s my child. We’re still living and loving one another as mother and daughter.

That’s one of the things that I want to get across and why I opted to talk about it on camera. I was very much in control of my story line and what I wanted to share. I also was addicted to cocaine for seven years. This [show] is not [for] shock value; this is my existence. And if you’re going to document my life, this is what my life is right now.

TR: Your current relationship isn’t your first same-sex involvement. You were dating women exclusively when you made your debut in 1997. Was it hard for you?

M: No, it wasn’t. I always lived my life authentically. Over the past 15 years, same-sex relationships have been my primary relationships. It wasn’t a secret to people who’ve been around me in the industry. I just lived my life.

I hate the term living in the closet. We should be way past that at this point. I’m not going to embargo my life because of the ignorance of certain groups of people or people period. I stand for equality, period. And, yes, I’ll shout from the rooftops for equality for everyone. No matter your gender, whatever you choose to do, as long as you’re not hurting other people or yourself.

I am not married but we are definitely talking about it. This is a very important person that I live and am building a life with. I’ve got to take the punches and I’ve got to be obedient to what God has called me to do in my life and my time on this Earth. And that’s what I’m doing.   

TR: Why do you think many celebs stay in “the closet”?

M: It’s because of the fear of the shunning and the ignorance of folks. You don’t have to announce anything. It’s just that I was doing something that warranted realness, and who I am and where I was in my life I decided I’m just going to live … It’s not a big deal.

I look forward to that so that people who are [LGBT] don’t have to make those choices. It’s hard to live [in the closet]. It really is. I’ve seen people do it and it sucks. I refused to be that person a long time ago.

Aisha I. Jefferson is an Atlanta-based contributor to The Root.

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