Writer and actress Lena Waithe, who made history as the first woman of color to win an Emmy for comedy writing last fall, for Master of None, spoke about how important it is for queer kids of color to have role models on Wednesday's The View. There to promote her series The Chi and the highly anticipated Steven Spielberg sci-fi flick Ready Player One in which she stars, she called on fellow queer people in Hollywood who haven’t come out to step up and be visible.
“If you think about Hollywood. There are a lot of people in Hollywood. Think about how many black people there are in Hollywood. It’s a nice little number, especially, we’re growing now," Waithe said. “Think about how many out gay black people there are in Hollywood. You can count them on one or two hands. The numbers don’t add up.”
Then she fired off the names of a few out people of color in Hollywood, including Wanda Sykes, RuPaul, and Tituss Burgess, before adding that she thinks many people don’t come out because they think, “Well, it’s my private life.” She continued, “Honestly, we have to be a beacon of light for those young kids of color who are wondering, Am I weird? Is something wrong with me? What quality of life might I have?”
While listing the reasons for coming out, Waithe downplayed her own role in visibility as the only way she knows how to be.
“For me, I don’t think what I’m doing is very revolutionary. I don’t know how to not be gay as hell or black as hell. That’s just who I am,” Waithe said.
When View cohost Joy Behar suggested that perhaps people in Hollywood don’t come out for fear of being typecast or not cast at all, Waithe replied, “I love it. I made a wonderful career being cast as a lesbian.”
Whoopi Goldberg, who was nominated for an Oscar for portraying a queer character in The Color Purple in 1985, joked, “Me too.”
Waithe laughed at Goldberg’s joke, but she doubled down on the importance of being out.
“It’s great to have allies, but honestly I’m just kind of over it [people who could make a difference remaining closeted] a little bit,” Waithe said. “My thing is I want to be here and hold somebody’s hand and be supportive.”