Spike Lee’s Protégé is Gay? 



 The Do the Right Thing director even inadvertently helped Rees’s parents to come around. “I brought some of Spike’s DVDs of his most recent film and I sent it to my mom. He wrote, ‘You should be proud of your daughter.’ ” It was a statement that made an impact. “It’s like, ‘Spike Lee knows that you’re gay and he’s still nice to you? And you’re not being shunned by the world?’ So they’re much better, but,” Rees says of her parents. “It’s still not totally, you know…” her voice trails off.

Rees can’t help but find symbolic significance in Pariah’s release on Christmas Day, though talking about it brings her to tears. “When I first came out, holidays were hard,” she recalls. “I reached a point where I didn’t go home anymore. I constructed my own kind of like family group around Christmas. I think it’ll be a good thing for some people who maybe don’t have that typical family structure, [they] will have something to go do with their friends [on Christmas].”

Rees wipes away another tear as she takes a gulp of water and a deep breath, finally pausing for a moment. “One Christmas, I went with my friends and my girlfriend at the time, and we saw Dreamgirls,” she says. They had a fabulous brunch at a New York hotel. “But I think there was some sadness for me that we weren’t all with our families. It was bittersweet  — we all had each other.”

She finishes. “So it’s a statement, releasing on that day.” She pauses again, clear-eyed now. “I hope it works out.”

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