Board member, Black AIDS Institute
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In a 2016 interview with Out Magazine, Smollett clarified his sexual orientation by stating “If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man.” However, he stated his belief that openness to love is more important than gender, revealing that “If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I’m going to love that woman.” As a boy, Jussie Smollet had some romantic interest in girls. When Smollett’s gay character Jamal Lyon from Empire engaged in a heterosexual tryst with a female character, Smollett defended the plot development by stating that he and Empire creator Lee Daniels were trying to create a conversation about sexual fluidity in the gay community. Daniels has stated that “Jussie and I both share the same feeling that, yes, even though we are gay, we’re sexual human beings. And we do occasionally want to sleep with a woman.” Daniels stated that “We’re showing life on Empire“, in that both he and Smollett were incorporating their own sexual fluidity as gay men into Empire.