Deborah Cox loves the gays, and the gays love Deborah Cox.
Whether it be through her extensive discography, her multiple acting credits, her time on Broadway, or the various Pride festivals all over the world that she has performed at over the years, the multihyphenate has been entertaining us for years now, and there's nary a queer millennial who doesn't get up off their feet every time they hear the first few notes of the dance mix of her smash 1998 hit "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here."
A passionate LGBTQ+ ally, Cox recently performed a headlining set at InterPride's (the organization that runs WorldPride) Global Gala in Los Angeles recently, which included so many of her hits (as well as some covers from one of her musical heroes, Whitney Houston).
Out's digital director Raffy Ermac and contributor Taylor Henderson sat down with the music legend herself backstage after her InterPride Global Gala performance, and she opened up about what Pride means to her, why the gays love her so much, possibly collaborating with other R&B queens, what her dream festival lineup would be, and more!
Raffy Ermac: This time of year is really special for the community. What does Pride mean to you?
Deborah Cox: It's brought so much joy to my life. It's brought so many moments with friends, incredible memories of just being free and being in the clubs and not having to worry about anything or any judgment. Over the years, I have just really appreciated this, the audience and the crowd, because they embraced me throughout my career with whatever choices I had decided to make in music or in the arts, whether it was Broadway or R&B or whatever. So this was a really important moment. I've done Prides all over the world and it just is a great intersection of all the people who have brought so much joy to my life.
RE: "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" turns 25 years old this year. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that that song would have the impact it has now? Especially with the community and how they feel about it and how they feel about you and love you?
DC: The ballad version was the version that I think really made the first impact. I think it really touched the soul. And then the dance version just brought a whole new life and resurgence of what used to happen, I think, in places like Studio 54. We kept the emotion in the song even though you were dancing on your feet, you know what I mean? And I think that's why it resonated so deeply with the community.
Taylor Henderson: Both Raffy and I, we're both R&B fans, were screaming "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" when we were like six years old. It's kind of a funny question, but why do you think little gay boys are attracted to your music? And why do you think the gays have so much love for you?
DC: I think it's the story. I think it's the connection of just the storytelling and while you're able to dance and have fun, you're also feeling the emotion of a song. Whether you've broken up with someone or whether you're figuring out if you want to be with someone. There's just something about storytelling, something that really resonates and connects with people. I think that's what my songs have done. A lot of people have. They said it's a soundtrack to their lives, and I think it's because the stories resonate.
RE: Especially for the little Black and brown gay boys.
DC: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.
RE: One of my favorite things during the pandemic was you and Tamia's virtual duets. Is there any chance for you and Tamia to collaborate in real life and come together and do something?
DC: We really talk about it a lot. We talk about it all the time. We're at so many different stages in our life now. So we're trying to fit it all in. I'm sure we will at some point, because we always come together when we can collaborate. So I do see something in the future. When? I can't tell you exactly when, because I have no idea.
TH: What does Whitney Houston's music mean to you as well? Even just sharing that (her set at InterPride's Global Gala) with us was amazing. Because I'd never heard those songs sung live by anyone.
DC: Thank you. I did The Bodyguard musical and it touched me profoundly because she was the first person that I heard that made me fall in love with music and in this industry that wanted to do music like that. Wanted to resonate and really touch people the way she did. So she has a very special place in my heart.
RE: Let's say in your wildest dream, we're setting up a Pride festival and you're the headliner. Who would you want to co-headline with you?
DC: Oh my gosh, there are so many. It would have to be old school, like either Chaka. I love Chaka. I'm so open to music that it doesn't matter. Lauryn Hill. Chaka. Cher.
TH: Oh my God, yes.