Anyone familiar with Wanda Sykes's stand-up comedy knows that she's gay-friendly. In her 2006 HBO special, Sick and Tired, she exclaimed, "If you don't believe in same-sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex!" But Sykes has taken her support for the community one step further by going public with her own sexuality on Saturday. According to The New York Times:
In Las Vegas, the comedian Wanda Sykes surprised a crowd of more than 1,000 rallying outside a gay community center by announcing that she is gay and had wed her wife in California on Oct. 25. Ms. Sykes, who divorced her husband of seven years in 1998, had never publicly discussed her sexual orientation but said the passage of Proposition 8 had propelled her to be open about it.
Her appearance at the rally was a surprise to organizers. Sykes was able to attend because she was in town performing at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Associated Press captured her remarks to the crowd:
You know, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation. I didn't feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life. Everybody that knows me personally they know I'm gay. But that's the way people should be able to live their lives....
Now, I gotta get in their face. I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay.
I know some activists have expressed their disapproval over closeted Hollywood types and don't think celebrities deserve praise for coming out, seeing it as an act of "too little, too late." But as someone who occasionally runs in Hollywood circles, I know the homophobia that plagues this town and how it can cripple someone's career.
And coming out at this point in her life, Sykes wields so much more influence than she did earlier in her career. And let's face it. We all stand to benefit more not when young unknown actors start waving rainbow flags but when known celebrities make gay headlines.