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Ladies First (and Only)?

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I realized I’d have to confess to watching Single Ladies–more than once. It’s true. Admittedly, I watched the first episode because I think Dionne Stacey Dash is fine. And although I find the acting in some ways utterly intolerable, somehow I’ve seen enough episodes since to still be able to follow the story line. Saying I watch because I want to support Lisa[waaaaaybeyondhershelflife]Raye for miraculously still finding work–even in a recession–is pretty unconvincing. Perhaps I should just blame baseball season. Apparently, I’m not alone. Viewership of Single Ladies has been consistent, and Vh1, which has been steadily rebranding itself as a grown and sexy, older sibling counterpart to BET’s blazing hip-hop and R&B, will more than likely renew the (two-thirds) black version of Sex and the City for another season.

Last week, Single Ladies accrued the most internet buzz it’s had since the premiere, and it wasn’t because viewers still find it hard to believe that there are that many straight people in Atlanta. (Or maybe that’s just me.) Series executive producer, Queen Latifah made cameos on the last two episodes, appearing as Sharon Love, main protagonist Val’s (Stacey Dash) former college roommate.  As a teaser for last week’s show, two weeks ago Love, a television personality, admitted to sleeping with Val when they were college roommates. Unfortunately for Val, the admission came while Love was mic’d and on air. Then last week, Love visited Val’s boutique, offering following insight:

“It turns out being gay is fabulous. My Twitter is all atwitter. I have six new Facebook fan pages. And for every sponsor that’s fallen out, I’ve gotten two more. Who knew? Being gay is the new black.”

Yes, Sharon, I suppose it is. Such a minor plot point might not normally cause such an internet stir. Yet folks have speculated about Queen Latifah’s sexuality for practically her entire career, and Latifah’s role in Set it Off as hyper-butch, bank robber Cleo notwithstanding, her remarks as Sharon Love mark the first moment that the queen has seemingly embraced (the idea of) the gay. QL’s brief appearance on Single Ladies has left many of us wondering if Sharon Love may be a foreshadowing of what real life announcements may come.  Does Queen Latifah intend to officially come out soon? October 11 is just around the corner.

I’m more interested in a public apology for Bringing Down the House and forcing us to endure Common as the romantic lead in a movie than I am about Queen Latifah confirming some shit we already know. And I suspect that QL might only admit that she’s been scuba diving in the lady pond like she was looking for Nemo if, in fact, she could pull a Sharon Love and turn such public confirmations into some lucrative lesbionicness. We’re still waiting for our black Ellen, I guess. Sheryl Swoopes is on the back of my almond milk carton. Shout out to Wanda Sykes, but that voice is nearly Talib Kweli-esque. And although she did ride the “I sleep with chicks” wave until it crashed into a talk show and increased publicity, frankly she never had the pre-coming out cache of Degeneres–or Latifah.  Furthermore, Sykes’ situation is hardly analogous, and can’t necessarily serve as a good measure of what Latifah might gain–or lose–should she choose to come out. It was–and still is–pretty apparent that Sykes has very little interest or investment in a black audience, and seems to nearly exclusively appeal to a white and gay one; QL, on the other hand, through her early days in hip-hop, starring role in Living Single, and the fact that she hosted last year’s BET Awards, has a sizable one and may have some concerns that coming out will alienate black audiences who are presumably more homophobic than others.

So perhaps Sharon Love is QL sticking her proverbial toe in the water. With Whoopi Goldberg as perhaps the only precedent to QL’s Hollywood popularity, there’s a lot at stake. Maybe our e-responses will help gauge what more, if anything, QLmay say. If rumors of their break-up are untrue, perhaps Dana and Jeannette can become the black gay version of Barack and Michelle. Maybe black gay America may soon have its own first couple? Next thing you know our favorite Cover Girl is on the red carpet holding hands with her lady talking about adopting babies. Don’t hold your breath, though. QL’s may counter her Single Ladies cameo with a string of appearances wherein she returns to being annoyingly heterosexual, as is her wont.

We’ll see.