Da Brat on Coming Out in Her Mid-40s: 'I Did This on My Own Terms'
For Da Brat, it took finding the right partner and years of reflection to comfortably stand in her truth.
In a new interview for Variety's special Power of Pride series, the "Give It 2 You" rapper, 46, opened up about her decision to come out in March and why it "feels good to share with the world when you’re happy."
Da Brat — who is currently dating businesswoman Jesseca Dupart — said she "always felt like being private is the better way to go," but compromised on sharing her love publicly since her girlfriend openly shares her life on social media.
"My partner is a social media mogul, and when you get with somebody, you have to meet in the middle," she told the magazine. "I was like, 'Oh s---, I just came out after 20-something years!'"
Since coming out, Da Brat said feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but that she had to make the choice in her own time, even as she faced speculation into her sexuality throughout her career.
"The reaction made me feel like, 'Why didn’t I do this s— years ago?'" she said, adding that she received countless calls, texts and messages of support. "... There were some people saying, 'We knew it.' Well, good for you! Now I know it, and I’m able to say it. I did this on my own terms."
The artist said Dupart is the right fit for her: someone whom she can "learn from [and] grow with."
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"We just complement each other," she said. "Some of my exes wouldn’t be able to take how social media drags people — the hate and the trolls. But this one that I got now? She’s built for it. She teaches me."
She added: "So I’m learning, and when you have a partner that you can learn from, grow with, who inspires you? I love that."
As for what Da Brat says kept her from opening up about her sexuality, navigating the dynamics of the music industry made it seem like an impossibility.
"I was always told you want to be f—able to men and women to sell records — you don’t want anybody to discriminate," she explained. "It was absolutely my decision. I mean, you saw what happened to people like Ellen [DeGeneres]: Remember when she lost her TV show and all these horrible things were happening? People were totally against it."
Today, the rapper — who is set to play an LGBTQ character in an upcoming stage adaptation of the 1996 movie Set It Off — said the industry is still stacked against women who don't fit a certain mold.
"It’s still tough for female MCs, producers and writers if you don’t have the support of a major male artist backing you — or if you’re not super-duper sexy and have some big titties and a nice ass and can twerk," she said. "You can’t go in there looking [tough] like I did [back in the day] and be like: 'I'm a rapper.' They’re going to say, 'Let’s get you out of those tomboy clothes and dress you up in a teddy.'"
"But that changes who you are — and then your rhymes start changing because you look different," she continued. "Then you’re not so relatable because you’re not being yourself anymore. Now you’re somebody else. Who are you?"
Da Brat said she hopes to inspire anyone coming to terms with their sexuality or finding their gender expression: "To me, Pride is loving myself and not making excuses for anything: Live in your truth."
"If I can inspire someone or help somebody to deal with their issues and their sexuality," she said, "then I’m here for it."