I know what you’re all thinking—Didn’t Al Reynolds already come out? Isn’t this old news? Well—he hadn’t and it isn’t.
Al Reynolds’ sexual orientation has been questioned since he was married to journalist and ex co-host of The View, Star Jones from 2004-2008. Since their very public divorce, Reynolds has pussyfooted around the speculation that he could be gay. Up until now, Reynolds has deflected on the subject, making other issues factors for his divorce and for not being romantically linked to other women. Take this interview he did with Essence in 2009 where Reynolds is asked about the rumors surrounding his sexuality. Reynolds responds with:
When it comes to people discussing my sexuality I've always taken the higher road, but I get very emotional about it. I'm tired of the disrespect. It has affected my professional career and life. It's difficult when people are making up stories about you and lying about your sexuality.
But now, Al Reynolds has finally come out as a bisexual man. In an interview with Radar Online, Reynolds has opened up about the years he has struggled with hiding his true self and the embarrassment that he has felt with the rumors.
Reynolds tells Radar Online:
Ever since I have been in the public eye, people have been speculating on my sexuality. And ‘speculating’ is a kind word for how it actually played out. With anger and disdain, people have been calling me out as gay, closeted, a sham and even nastier; much nastier.
I have come to a point in my life where I am ready to discuss my truth. I wasn’t ready to do this then — I wasn’t even ready to think about it, let alone process it. To understand my journey and how I got to this point, you need to understand a little about me.
I am the youngest of six children in a Southern Baptist family. We grew up in a three-bedroom mobile home in Horsepasture, Virginia. We were deeply religious; when we weren’t in church we were in school or an after-school activity. My life was filled with vacation bible school, missionary meetings, Sunday school, choir practice and youth ministry.
Life was not nuanced or frivolous, nor did it allow any time for introspection. It was clear and proscribed, black and white, angels or sinners. And people who were intimate with others of their own gender were the worst of all with no chance of redemption, or the glorious afterlife that I was taught awaited us all.
As a black man, that message and the hate and homophobia were multiplied to the nth degree. I saw no path out that would resolve my personal feelings with my deeply held and ingrained religious beliefs.
This internal dissonance was a powerful thing, like a cancer eating at one’s soul. This resulted in some tough times — homelessness, unemployment, dependence on drugs and alcohol, public assistance, and, at the center of it all, a deep, deep shame and a feeling of unworthiness of the love of God. I didn’t believe I deserved to live a good life, and I clearly didn’t.
As a queer man of color myself, I can attest to the difficulties related to coming out in a highly religious and culturally-intense family. By no means is coming out easy for anyone, but when religion is the foundation for all things “family”, it can become a demon of a different kind, wrapping you in fear, that leads to countless other acts of rock-bottom proportions.
Coming out is a serious, personal event in one’s life. An event that, unfortunately, people are stripped of when you lead a very public life.
It may have taken Al Reynolds all these years to finally muster up the courage to speak his truth, but he finally was able to do it on his own terms. But, Al—we knew it was coming, girl!