By Verde Arzu
“I had to tune out what the hell everybody else had to say about who I was. When I was able to do that, I felt free.” -Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah: hip-hop MC, actress, Academy Award winner, Grammy Award winner, role model, philanthropist, and phenomenal womxn. A true living legend received her roses on June 27, 2021 as she stood on stage to receive the BET Liftetime Achievement Award. Queen Latifah’s body of work spans three decades, appearing on the scene with her first solo record, “Wrath of My Madness,” released in 1988. The Queen is a walking example of longevity. She stood and delivered her speech in true Queen fashion, with powerful remarks. Among them, thanking God, her parents, friends, family, and “sisters in rap,” Rapsody, Monie Love, MC Lyte, and Lil Kim, all of whom stood beside her after performing some of her most beloved classic hits. Additionally, she thanked BET for providing a space for “beautiful blackness to thrive, to shine.” However, no remarks were more poignant than her last nine words: “Eboni, my love. Rebel, my love. Peace. Happy pride!” It was with those words that the queer community, especially the Black queer community, and all of social media was set ablaze.
Many have speculated and even concluded that the Queen is “family.” However, even with all the rumors and murmurs surrounding her romantic interests, Queen Latifah herself has been mums the word about her private life. Over the years, though, many, including myself, have longed for The Queen to stand in pride with her fellow LGBTQIA+ folk. Mostly because, well, representation truly does matter! It is a saying that can never become cliche for the same reason that Black Entertainment Television began in the first place. We need to see ourselves. We still have such a long way to go before equality and equity exists within entertainment industry. Queen’s voice, like it did during the month of Pride 2021, resonated with a group of often silenced and marginalized people, evoking hope, pride, and power. “In just nine words,” you might ask. Yes, in just nine words! Queen Latifah’s voice said that Black queer people, specifically Black womxn who are queer, can be our true and authentic selves, that we do exist, that we are out here, and that we matter.
Look to the Throne
Although Queen Latifah has been relatively quiet about her private life, her actions have been quite powerful. Among her most powerful actions, she revealed to us–although an important process to many on their journeys–there doesn’t have to be a coming-out affair. No interviews have to be had, letters written, or kumbaya session had. We can live our lives however the hell we want to! We do not have to feel compelled to share about our love interests because we are LGBTQIA+ or because of stardom or any other reason. People are going to love and support you because of who you are and the work you produce. Heterosexual people do not have to step up to a podium and make an announcement about their sexual orientation. They simply walk around in love. In a recent interview Queen Latifah said, “I had to tune out what the hell everybody else had to say about who I was. When I was able to do that, I felt free.” That sentiment of freedom in being ourselves is something we all want and need. And so, the Queen continues to blaze the trail and show us how it’s done. “All Hail the Queen!”