I recently decided to fall hard for FOX’s Empire.
I’d heard good things, (mostly from my mother) and I figured that Taraji P. Henson is a stunner, so ‘why not?’
Well, less than 10 minutes into the pilot episode, I knew who my people were:
Throughout the rest of the pilot I learned that Jamal (Jussie Smollett) was gay, but, sadly, still in the closet because of his father’s raging homophobia.
Over the past seven episodes we’ve watched Jamal struggle. He was cut off and blackmailed by his father when he told him he was going to come out, his live-in boyfriend moved out after being upset that Jamal was spending too much time with his music and not enough with him.
But on tonight’s episode, my man had enough.
After a pep talk from a cute stranger, (his next boyfriend; I’m calling it now) Jamal gave one hell of a performance at his family’s white party, where he sang one of his father’s old songs.
He introduced the piece by saying that it was all about his “truths,” and proceeded to turn the lyric “This the kind of song that makes a woman love a man,” to the much more fitting “This the kind of song that makes a man love a man.”
You go, honey.
But the best part? Nothing changed. The crowd still sang along.
The TV press covered it, but there was no negativity, aside from papa Lyon who is eternally, hopelessly clutching on to his homophobic tendencies.
Oh, well. We don’t need him anyway.
We need his mother (my second-fave, Cookie) who screamed “Go Mal!” and mouthed “I love you” to him immediately after his performance. We need his older brother who toasted to him with a glass of surely very expensive champagne. We need his younger brother who not only supported him at the party, but came by Jamal’s place the next day to congratulate him on doing the “bravest thing [he’s] seen in [his] life.”
But, most of all, we need Jamal loving who he is. Jamal being proud of himself and confident in himself as a person.
Because he has no reason not to be.