Readers Debate Identity Politics, at Church, at Home, and at Yacht

A round-up of some of this week's best reader-lead conversations.

By Channing Kennedy Aug 13, 2010

Two stories y’all couldn’t get enough of this week: Victor Goode’s must-read on the GOP’s long and complicated relationship with the 14th Amendment, and Jamilah King’s must-read on the privacy-and-identity issues raised by gossip-rag photos of Queen Latifah. Hey, our readers are nothing if not prepared for discourse on an array of issues.

Kai featured some of the best discussion around the 14th Amendment nastiness earlier this week over on the Editor’s Blog, so let’s dig into the latter. As always, you can join the discussion right here on, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

In the comments on Jamilah King’s "It’s Time for Everybody to Get Out of Queen Latifah’s Bedroom," KSW lays it out on the real duties of a role model whose identity is her own business:

… Maybe she doesn’t want to be "the black, female, lesbian role model"? Maybe she doesn’t want to be Wanda Sykes or other out famous people (if she is in fact a lesbian). Maybe she just wants to be a singer, actress and model. Nothing more. Nothing less. We can give the job to someone else who actually is interested in having it. Or maybe… just maybe… she is being a role model. The role model of the future. A future when who you love really doesn’t matter or define you. Just how you treat others. Ultimately that’s all that truly matters anyway. How about focusing more on ending war, poverty, abuse, hatred, judgment and a host of other really terrible things instead of spending so much time debating about whether or how someone should love another person.

A few readers felt that the article itself was compromised by our use of the paparazzi photo of Latifah and Jeanette Jenkins, which appeared on celebrity gossip sites earlier in the week. As Laura put it,

i’m sorry, but this has to be said: "Hey everyone! Gawk at this unauthorized photo of Queen Latifah and her girlfriend! But for God’s sake, stay out of her business!"

And Silky Soul Singer says that the power to control your image comes with the responsibility to make life easier for those who can’t:

… I’m guessing (and it is pure conjecture on my part) that she is concerned not with the reactions of Americans over all, but with Black Americans in particular. The Black community’s ambivalence (and I’m being kind here) toward it’s gay members is legendary. It’s an unfortunate truism to say that many black gays find more acceptance when not dealing with their brothers and sisters (especially their overtly religious ones).

My best friend and her partner (both successful Black women in their late 30’s) are still in the closet. Although they live together (and have been doing so for several years), they refuse to publicly acknowledge their relationship.

I’ve asked several times why they just don’t live their lives openly, as this seems to me to be a waste of time (easy for me to say, I’m a straight male). Their response is always the same: dealing with the reactions of family, friends and employers is not worth the hassle. And for me that’s really sad. Because honestly, I can’t imagine what life must be like having to hide your essential self.

Obviously, everyone has to live their lives as they see fit, but since Latifah’s sexuality has been an open secret for years now (I’ve known for at least a decade. I actually have a photo of her and my friend taken at an all ladies party back in ’01) might it not be better if she just put the issue behind her? And in the process (although it’s not her responsibility) maybe get some people to open their minds a little bit?

Thanks to all our commenters, as always, for giving us a conversation to contribute to.