Back in 2015, Jussie Smollett took TV by storm as a gay character on the musical drama Empire. While certainly shocked by the newfound fame and attention, Smollett also realized the weight of responsibility that came with it.
Now three years later, Smollett is sharing how he insured his role was as representative as possible.
While appearing on the radio program The Clay Cane Show on SiriusXM yesterday (November 14), Smollett shares that he fought against his character, Jamal Lyon, dating a white man.
“There was talk about Jamal having a white boyfriend and I said, ’F*** no!'” Not for any reason except we have a responsibility and we have a such a beautiful opportunity to show two black men in a relationship together, in a healthy relationship.”
He then added, “But it was important and that wasn’t anything against white men. It was just a thing of…this is what I wished I had seen as a kid because if I had seen certain things as an adolescent, I would have had a much different understanding of who I am in an earlier space. I do think that is important to show.”
Keep in mind that though Smollett is an advocate for Jamal dating a black man, the character, and his sexuality, was first introduced through a relationship with a Latin man.
It wasn’t until later in the show that Lyon started dating other black men (including current boyfriend Kai played by Sense8's Toby Onwumere).
Despite that, Smollett’s efforts behind the camera helped to represent black gay love in front of the camera, which is rare and much needed. For that, we are all thankful.
If you want to listen to Smollett’s discussion about sexuality and fighting for representation, you can check out the audio clip below.