Pop Culture

Should Celebrities Be Outed After Death?

I’m watching Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez on Netflix, and at around the 47min and 30 seconds mark Aaron Hernandez is outed as Gay or Bisexual. The now-deceased football star turned convicted murderer’s high school best friend, Denis Sanscoucie, is the one who outed him. Denis told stories of he and Aaron having a sexual relationship as early as the seventh grade and all throughout high school. He alleged that he was just a very small part of Hernandez’s sexual history.  A lot of people were upset after watching Sanscoucie tell his recollection of accounts. How could a person out someone, especially now that he is deceased? He obviously didn’t want anyone to know. 

Luther Outed by Patti Labelle

The same is the case with Luther Vandross when his good friend Patti Labelle recalled on Watch What Happens Live,  “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 he had a lot of lady fans. He told me that he just didn’t want to upset the world,” she added. “It was hard for him.” 

Although the two men’s alleged sexuality was revealed under different circumstances, questions remain. Mostly, these questions surround morality. Denis Sanscoucie’s outing is different. When he made the world aware of Aaron’s alleged sexuality, he also made everyone aware of his. If it was also his business to share, is he still wrong for mentioning something that may have been delicate for someone else? Are you wrong for telling your own story if it involves someone who can’t reveal it for themselves? 

Whitney Outed by Robyn Crawford

The same would be the case for Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford. Stories of Whitney’s sexuality have circulated for years. People have questioned her best friend and assistant, Robyn Crawford’s true role in Whitney’s life for a long time. The now-married Crawford broke her silence seven years after Houston’s death and set the record straight. We never talked labels, like lesbian and gay,” Crawford writes. “We just lived our lives, and I hoped it could go on that way forever.” The sexual side of their relationship ended when Whitney was signed to Arista Records at 19. Crawford wrote in her book, A Song for You, that Whitney told her that they needed to stop having sex. She handed Robyn a bible and also explained that people could use their relationship against them if they found out. 

The former assistant and best friend of Houston told Lena Waithe in an interview that after Bobbi Kristina died in 2015, she felt she needed to clear some things up:

“I had comfort in my silence for many years. When her daughter Bobbi Kristina passed [in 2015], that’s when I first really felt the need to stand up, hearing the way people were treating Bobbi, Whitney, our friendship, and their version of my story. And I felt the legacy of my friend was buried underneath all of that. That’s when I had to ask Nip about writing this book. I actually sat there and asked her up above: “What would you want me to do? Do you understand why now?” Feeling her yes, that was my clearance. When I felt complete in my being that I could have the confidence to stand up and lift her legacy out of the trash, to elevate it and put it back in her hands, while also honoring our friendship…that’s when I felt ready.”

The Question

The question still remains, is it proper to out someone after death? These cases all had special circumstances where a very close loved one outed them. I’m not sure what Denis Sanscoucie’s motive was for outing Aaron Hernandez. Was it the lights and cameras that coaxed it out of him? Was his plan always to tell his accounts with Hernandez, dead or alive? Aaron’s former fiance said that Denis was not that active in Aaron’s adult life. However, she made it clear that she would have loved the former Patriot no matter what his sexuality was. I never found an explanation from Patti Labelle as to why she outed her good friend after so long. I watched the interview tape with Patti alongside Sam Smith being interviewed by Andy Cohen. She seemed to want to answer the question as delicately as she could. Robyn made it clear her reasons. I’ve watched a lot of her interviews as well as read articles. I fully wanted to understand why she would come forward after so long. She truly appeared to have no malice or il will. It didn’t seem like she was chasing any limelight or fame through her confession. I don’t think a person is obligated to hold a secret that they share stake in. If it is an act that two people equally shared, it is also their story to tell. 

Although the involved parties may be famous, it does not require the other person to hold the secret if it is also theirs. I understand fans wanting to be loyal and wanting to protect the way they see a person, especially after death. However, that does not mean they should hold the power in how the other person tells their own story. The only person who did not have a stake in a coming-out story was Patti Labelle. I don’t think she meant to harm or had any reason for herself to reveal the news. However, I do feel she was wrong to reveal it none the less. Sanmscoucie is the only person who seemed to light up under the camera lights excited to reveal Hernandez’s secret. He’s the only one who stood to profit the most from the revelation. As I stated, I can understand someone who shares the secret equally reasons for wanting to come forward. However, no one should be forced out of the closet dead or alive. If the secret dies with them, then it dies. It isn’t the business of the living what the dead did in their personal life. 

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