Kerry Rhodes: Gay or Straight? Who Cares?

Kerry Rhodes (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Kerry Rhodes (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

(The Root) — I said I wasn't going to touch the "Kerry Rhodes drama." If you stick to higher-end news sites, you have no idea what I'm talking about. If you occasionally find your way to urban-gossip sites to pass your lunch hour, then you know exactly what I'm referring to.


See if you can keep up with this one. I'll try to make it easy.

Rhodes is a former NFL player. Last week, photos appeared online of him and a man named Russell "Hollywood" Simpson. The images hinted at a close relationship between the two, and bloggers speculated that the pair were lovers. Not so, said Rhodes in a statement to TMZ: "Photos have been circulating of my former assistant and I that have caused some rumors regarding my sexuality, and I wanted to address the situation … I am not gay. The shots were taken during a past vacation in a casual environment with my entire business team. I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now, and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort."

Simpson, who says he did not release the photos, didn't take kindly to Rhodes' statement. In turn, he gave an interview to Baller Alert in which he alleged that he had a relationship with Rhodes for more than a year and that at one time they lived together. He also released another set of pictures featuring himself and Rhodes, including one in which the men are sharing an inner tube on vacation, a photo that to some, hinted at more than a working relationship. Simpson also released text messages allegedly exchanged between the two men in which they wrote, "I love you" and shared how much they miss one another.

"What pissed me off about the whole situation is when he and I stopped talking and the pics got out," Simpson told Baller Alert. "He said that he was not gay. To me, he shouldn't have said sh—. If you're not going to tell the truth, don't try to make me look stupid.“

At this time, Rhodes has not responded publicly to Simpson's allegations.

Just for the record, I have no clue whether Rhodes is gay or not and offer no speculation. But say he is, as Simpson alleges. I would know it was dead-wrong to "out" him.


As much interest as we might have in celebrities' lives or in salacious gossip, celebrities only need to share their talent with us. It's not really our business whom a celebrity dates, has sex with or marries.

This is doubly true when it comes to sexuality. Let's face it, everyone isn't tolerant of homosexuality — as the comments about the allegations of Rhodes sexuality indicate strongly — and as much personal fulfillment there may be in sharing one's sexuality with the world, it also comes with an incredible risk, especially for a black athlete (but not as much for a female athlete). Also, who is to say that if the allegations were true, Rhodes wasn't already out to his family and friends, but had opted not to tell the world?


One of the unfortunate side effects of the recent allegations against Rhodes is the renewed "down low" hysteria. I blame E. Lynn Harris' juicy tales of gay black men leading double lives for bringing this fretting about the down low to the initial forefront. And I blame New York Times bestselling author J.L. King for writing On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep With Men, in which he admitted that yes, he liked to sleep with men, but, hell no, he wasn't gay, for fueling the fire. I blame Tyler Perry for beating the deceased horse by adding an unnecessary DL storyline to For Colored Girls and getting women all riled up again.

I also blame all the women who bought into the hype and irrationally suspect the men who don't fit some alpha male stereotype, or are not fashion queens, for continuously spreading the DL hysteria. It's like the irony escapes them that down-low behavior persists because of all the horrible things that are said about gay men anytime someone mentions the words "down low" (as if all gay men fall into that category).


Whomever he is into, I support Rhodes. I hope he's on the receiving end of the comfort he graciously wished upon others.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life.