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Empire Tackles The Music Industry's Gay Double Standard

Empire Tackles The Music Industry's Gay Double Standard


Tiana's a good girl gone gay.

By now, Empire has firmly established itself as one of if not the gayest show on TV thanks to a compelling storyline of a disenfranchised son, his father hellbent on keeping him in the closet and a badass mother who's basically a drag queen. Last night's episode, however, took a look at the other side of the coming out coin by introducing a lesbian subplot and showing how comparatively not-a-big-deal it is.

Jamal's been trying to make it on his own without the aid of his homophobic father, permed and pressed record mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), as his mother Cookie (national treasure Taraji P. Henson) goes to bat for him, often with a bat (or gat) in hand.

Empire Cookie

But Cookie's always been fiercely devoted to Jamal, providing a stark contrast to Lucious' interminable disapproval. He squashes Cookie's plans to out Jamal, so the younger Lyon makes a song about cutting his father's purse strings. And it's about to blow up, y'all.

Meanwhile, Jamal's brother, Hakeem, is getting ready to detonate with his own bomb-worthy music, and he's making headlines by dating the thinly-veiled Rihanna surrogate, his labelmate Tiana -- who also happens to have a secret and really hot girlfriend.

Empire lesbian kiss

Eldest Lyon brother Andre tries to use this sapphic tidbit to his advantage, so he and his scheming wife upload a video of the two ladies loving each other to Perez HIlton, of all places.

Empire Hilton

And what, gay-tell, is Lucious Lyons' reaction:

Empire math

Suddenly he's the Pythaogras of millennial coupling. But where was this bald-faced opportunism when Jamal wanted to come out?

While Sam Smith may be openly gay and probably clutching an armful of Grammys come Sunday, he's white and sings songs about heartbreak beloved by teenaged girls the world over. Jamal is black and sings R&B. To Lucious, those two worlds don't mesh with gay. And for the most part, he's right. I can name all the openly gay male R&B artists on no hands. Then again, noted non-heterosexual Frank Ocean has nudged open R&B's heavily-bolted closet door and maybe the success of Empire -- as well as its music, much fronted by Jamal -- can open it a bit further.

Finally, can we just talk about Cookie's throwback hair for a minute because I'm still not over it:

Empire Cookie hair

Les Fabian Brathwaite, always in an Empire state of mind.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Les Fabian Brathwaite