Openly Gay Black Actors Rising In Hollywood: Meet Jussie Smollet and Benjamin Patterson

There is a huge difference between a gay person choosing to keep their relationship private and a gay person in the closet. For most actors, retaining some level of privacy could be great for one's career but for many gay actors that can also be construed as trying to hide that you are gay. 

Recently we have seen many gay entertainers speaking openly about their sexuality but we have not really seen that happen a lot from the black community. Well, that is changing, albeit at a slow pace. Few openly gay black men are slowly getting major roles in Hollywood and breaking the mould of what gay looks like — breaking the stereotype. 

Two such stars are Jussie Smollet and Ben Patterson. Everyone knows who Jussie is because of his breakout role on the hugely popular drama Empire. Jussie plays Jamal, the gay son of Cookie and Lucious Lyons. He plays a gay character on the show that is co-created by openly gay director and mogul, Lee Daniels. 

Jusssie Smollet
Soon after his character Jamal revealed he was gay on the show, Smollet in an interview with Ellen Degeneres spoke of the perception that he himself was hiding his sexuality.  

"There is without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in," he said of his own sexual orientation.
"And I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world."
Ben Patterson is about to get major recognition from the public with his new role on Oprah Winfrey's network produced show, Greenleaf, which premiered in the US in June this year. While Ben has had some small roles on television and films, his role as Noah on Greenleaf is sure to catapult him to television A-list status.

Benjamin Patterson stars in Greenleaf on OWN

Though both men have appeared in gay themed shows and films, Jussie starred in The Skinny and Ben in Noah's Arc — both projects created by Patrik Ian Polk, the men have relatively kept their private lives private. Very little is know about their love lives. 

In a rare occasion, in April 2016, Ben Patterson talked openly about his homosexuality by revealing in an interview that he and his husband have just welcomed a baby in to their home. Yes he is married to a man and they are now new parents. 

In March 2015, Jussie was rumoured to be dating Dustin, who played alongside him in the 2012 indie film "The Skinny." The pair had reportedly dated for the past three years, but with pics of Jussie and a new man popping up online this year the "Empire" star's previous ties to Dustin may have been officially cut.

Ben and his husband are now parents 
Neither of these gentlemen has done an interview talking about who they are dating or acknowledging their relationships with whomever they are with , and some might label that as hiding their sexuality or it could just be that the actors do not want their gayness to define their careers. Let's face it, it happens. 

Jussie and Dustin dated for 3 years and starred together on The Skinny

Michael Sam, came out as a professional sport star who happened to be gay but quickly his career turned from him being a footballer to being "the gay footballer" which derailed his career. So, personally I do not mind having gay celebrities keep their gay relationships out of the spotlight. As long as they do not front and pretend to be straight, it is really none of my business who they are dating. 

The beautiful thing for me in all of this is seeing black men come out and show the public that being gay is not a stereotype. Not all gay men are like RuPaul or Somizi, there are many types of gay men out there and all shades should be celebrated.

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