It’s Pride Month and Da Brat is celebrating the LGBTQIA commemoration for the first time this year, after having been the subject of swirling rumors surrounding her sexuality for decades. In a recent Variety feature titled, “Da Brat’s Coming Out Story Is 25 Years in the Making,” the rapper-turned-radio-personality opened up about the complexities that led up to her coming out when she did.
Though Da Brat (who became the first female rapper to go platinum with her 1994 album, Funkdafied) assures us her record labels and managers didn’t push her and that it was ultimately her decision to stay in the closet, she did admit she felt outside pressures from the industry, as well as from her religious upbringing. “I was always told you want to be fuckable to men and women to sell records—you don’t want anybody to discriminate,” she revealed. “It was absolutely my decision. I mean, you saw what happened to people like Ellen: Remember when she lost her TV show, and all these horrible things were happening? People were totally against it.”
Variety’s James Patrick Herman continues:
Born Shawntae Harris, she hails from the West Side of Chicago and grew up in church, attending service five days a week. While she learned to play seven different brass instruments at school, in church she played piano and drums and directed the choir. “All that musicality from church plays into who I am as an entertainer today,” she says. The strict dress code and traditional ideas about gender roles—Brat had to wear long skirts—also had a strong influence.
“I can be a tomboy or an absolute lady—I gave myself the title ‘The Best of Both Girls,’” she jokes. Her grandmother even enrolled her in etiquette classes. “My grandmother has passed away, but she was sanctified,” says Brat. “I would not want anyone in the church to judge her because of what I do. You never want to hurt the people that raised you; you don’t want to disappoint them.”
However, Brat’s mother probably isn’t going to join PFLAG anytime soon. “Yeah, my mom is not, like, jumping for joy,” says Brat. “She’s not going to condone it, but she loves me unconditionally. No one in my family has said anything bad or degrading.”
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Furthermore, Da Brat preferred to keep her private life to herself.
“I’ve always felt like being private is the better way to go, because then you don’t have so many people in your business,” Brat said. “I was fine staying quiet, but my partner is a social media mogul—that’s how she became who she is. And when you get with somebody, you have to meet in the middle. So to me, the middle was just letting everybody know: ‘Hey, she’s the one.’”
In late March, Da Brat shared a bit of her private life to the world, revealing to the world via Instagram that she was indeed in a romantic relationship with Kaleidoscope Hair Products CEO Jesseca Dupart.
As for her sexual identity, the 46-year-old rapper has not placed a specific label on it. “I had boyfriends in high school, and then I dated guys and girls, so I guess for a long time I was bisexual,” she said.
Overall, Da Brat is proud to possibly serve as a role model for anyone who may currently be struggling with their own sexual identity.
“To me, Pride is loving myself and not making excuses for anything: Live in your truth,” she noted. “If I can inspire someone or help somebody to deal with their issues and their sexuality, then I’m here for it.”