The iconic Patti LaBelle sat down as a guest on the Bravo show "Watch What Happens Live" last December, and she opened up about her late friend, the great Luther Vandross and his struggles to come clean about his sexuality.
The "Lady Marmalade" singer revealed why Luther never wanted to discuss his sexual orientation openly.
LaBelle spoke openly about her talented friend's hesitation in revealing his sexual orientation. She had high praise for Vandross, reminiscing about his incredible talent, but said that his sexuality was something he tried to hide. His main reason, she said, was the fear of his mother's reaction.
"He did not want his mother to be [upset]–although she might have known–he wasn’t going to come out and say this to the world,” she revealed. And continued,
“And he had a lot of lady fans. He told me that he just didn’t want to upset the world. It was hard for him."
Luther was best known for his hits such as "Power of Love/Love Power," "Don't Want to Be a Fool" and "Here and Now." He enjoyed great success in the music industry during the 1980s.
Patti met Vandross when she was still part of the Bluebelles. Their first encounter was 50 years ago at the backstage of the Apollo Theater. She recalled a fond memory of Vandross sneaking into their dressing room, acting the part of a designer presenting them with lavish dresses that, even today, she's not even sure where he got them.
Vandross died in 2005 at the age of 54 of a heart attack. He never got to confirm his sexuality, even though many people in the R&B industry knew about his preferences. However, many fans of the late singer criticized Patti for r posthumously "outing" the singer.
The topic is still a sensitive issue in the LGBTQ community. Despite the acceptance and critical strides in the civil rights of gay, lesbian and trans individuals in our time, some people still can't feel safe with yelling to the world their sexual orientation.
Ironically, Luther, known for his romantic love songs, never got the chance to live his own love story, according to a 2001 interview he did with Vibe magazine, where he revealed:
"I’m still waiting. The time that I’ve spent being in love has never been reciprocated. Those are just the circumstances.”
"I want to play house,” he added. “I want somebody–who’s not on payroll–to care about where I am.”
Luther Vandross will forever remain one of the most talented vocalists of our time.
Patti LaBelle described it perfectly:
“There are voices in this world and once they sing, it’s a stamp on everybody. Luther did that and he’s done it.”
Watch Patti speak about Luther in the video below: