One of my favorites singers Rahsaan Patterson recently sat down with Daily Voice columnist Mark Corece for an exclusive interview prior to a performance at Chicago's Park West Theater. Of course his music was discussed but the conversation inevitably touched on the controversial comments Patterson made in a 2007 interview with BET in which the singer came out and described his homosexuality as "a spirit that attached itself to him".
Here's a few excerpts via The Daily Voice:
In 2007, you did an interview with BET and you talked about your sexuality. You discussed your childhood and "spirits that attached to you." Is sexual abuse a fair interpretation of this?
Oh, yeah definitely. That is what I intended to express without making it an excuse for...
Do you feel like it is an excuse for homosexuality?
I think it is a reason for a lot of people's lifestyles that they choose. At some point you choose for that to be what you're into and what your lifestyle is--for some. To a degree, I think we have a choice for a lot of things. I think people who are straight, who are homophobic, choose to be homophobic. It is what it is and things happen in life and particularly when you are a child you don't have control over it. That is one of the things I was trying to express.
Do you think talking being open with your sexuality has negatively, or positively, impacted your career?
I don't really know, but what I do know is that I've never been in the closet or hiding anything. For me, it has always been maintaining the privacy of what I do with the people I do it with, whoever it is. Just because you don't know what I'm doing doesn't mean that I'm trying to keep something from you. The people that know me like my family, my friends and the people I am intimate with, they know, and that's what matters to me. I really don't care about the next person two blocks from here that wants to know and because they don't, they think that I'm keeping a secret--no. We all possess sexuality and we all possess the ability to be sexual with whoever we choose to be and that is not all of who we are. It doesn't necessarily define someone's character. I think sometimes people get hung up on that and it takes away from someone's true purpose. You know what I'm saying? A spirit is bigger than all of that.
Uhmm... ok. I don't know about you guys but hearing Rahsaan Patterson describe his sexuality as "a spirit that attached itself to him" and the use of the word choice is very problematic for me. I understand that our experiences are not the same. I've never been the victim of abuse and my heart goes out to him for having to deal with such an unfortunate ordeal. But I believe it's sends a potentially dangerous message. It's the kind of message that ex-gay ministries prey upon and gives false hope to parents who are struggling to accept their gay children.
Patterson is not the first black celebrity to declare the element of choice regarding his sexual orientation. WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes made a similar statement when she came out in 2005.
I grew up watching Patterson as a child performer on Disney's Kid's Incorporated and I identified with him even then, ironically we had more in common than just a talent for performing. The man has a voice from heaven.
So what do you think about Rahsaan Patterson's views on his homosexuality? Is it a case of internalized homophobia?