Actor and singer Jussie Smollett is one of the breakout stars of Fox's hit drama Empire, and while much of the buzz surrounding him has focused on his talents, there's also been plenty said about his sexuality.
On the show, he plays Jamal Lyon, a gay singer and the middle son of Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) battling his father's homophobia.
In real life, Smollett's sexuality has been a topic of conversation, and now he's setting the record straight.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres conducted backstage at Ellen, he confirmed that he is gay and explained why he's never felt the need to discuss his personal life.
"There's never been a closet. That I've been in. I don't own a closet, I got a dresser, but I don't have a closet, but I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home. ... So that's why I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world. And that's where I'm at. ... So, let's not read into it in the wrong way when I say that I don't talk about my personal life, I'm saying that. But it is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. You know? My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And, yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions? But honestly, we're human and we love and we do all that good stuff. So I'm honored for this opportunity and I'm honored to be here with you."
Until his conversation with DeGeneres, Smollett consistently refused to discuss his sexuality in interviews, telling Sway on his radio show a few weeks ago that fans shouldn't assume that he's gay.
"I'm not willing to confirm or deny anything. I live my life. If someone is looking for a box to put me in, that's not going to happen," he said. "I live my life, and if you really want to know about me, just watch, because I don't hide anything. I just don't choose to talk about my personal life."
Smollett's co-star Malik Yoba made headlines last week when several media outlets and fans accused him of inadvertently outing the actor during an interview with BlackFilm.com.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Yoba denied that he had outed Smollett and was instead just referring to his character, Jamal.
Smollett's other co-stars, Oscar-nominated actresses Henson and Gabourey Sidibe, tweeted their support of his decision to share his private life with the world.