Comedian Wanda Sykes announced she is a lesbian on Nov 15, coming out before a crowd gathered in Las Vegas to protest the passage of Proposition 8, which reversed same-sex couples’ right to marry in California. She revealed that she and her partner had legally married on Oct 25, making them one of more than 15,000 couples now tossed into legal limbo as a result of Proposition 8.
This announcement comes as no surprise to some, as Sykes has previously been linked to gay topics in the media. Speculation has existed about her sexuality for some time, in part because of her outspokenness for gay rights, which she has addressed in her stand-up routines. She also appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ talk show on Oct 31 to speak out about homophobia in the black community and the parallels between gay rights and black rights, poking fun at how the conversation would sound if she had to come out to her mother as black.
In April 2007 Michael Musto authored a cover story for Out Magazine that urged a list of celebrities to stop living in “the glass closet” and to come out. This list included Sykes as well as several others whose queer lifestyle was no secret among the industry, but chose not to acknowledge themselves as gay or lesbian in public.
“I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation,” Sykes, 44, told the crowd of 1,000 assembled at the Las Vegas GLBT Community Center. “I didn’t feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life. Everybody that knows me personally, they know I’m gay.” She went on to state, “Now, I gotta get in their face … I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay.”
Sykes currently appears on the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, in which her character entered into a same- sex marriage with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character on the fall season premiere.
On Dec 2 The Advocate released the news that Sykes is among their People of the Year, alongside FTM transgender Thomas Beatie who is pregnant with his second child, and former-Mormon Bruce Bastian, a major donor in the fight against Prop 8.