Throughout her career, Kerry Washington has remained remarkably tight-lipped about her personal life, leading the gossip mill to speculate over whether the “Scandal” star is a lesbian, something she’s taken in stride.
“It’s interesting how much people long to fill in the gaps when someone in the public eye doesn’t share their personal life,” Washington tells the Advocate in a new interview. “I understand their frustration. I like how people will post pictures of me with other women that I adore, hugging on red carpets, and say, ‘See?’ Are we so uncomfortable with love between two people of the same gender that we immediately label it as sexual? But I’ve never been bothered by the lesbian rumor. There’s nothing offensive about it, so there’s no reason to be offended.”
The Oscar-nominated actress says she’s known closeted people in Hollywood and has likened the decision to remain closeted with the idea of “passing” as white in the black community, believing them both to be the result of societal prejudices.
“When you buy into the cultural idea of what’s acceptable and unacceptable, you reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices,” she says. “That wouldn’t work for me. I don’t love to give advice to anyone because we all have to make our own choices, but I’d want to live my life in truth. But there also have to be changes within the Hollywood community. Casting directors and producers have to look beyond sexual orientation in the way that they’re just barely, barely beginning to look beyond race. Until Hollywood learns that actors are artists of transformation, it will continue to be limiting for minorities.”
Washington has worked as an advocate on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, being named honorary co-chair for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s Respect Awards celebrating initiatives against bullying in August.