‘Empire’s’ Jussie Smollett sends a powerful message about being gay in 2015

You might know him as Jamal from Empire, or from a small role he had on The Mindy Project a few years ago (hi). Or maybe, you know him as Jurnee Smollett’s brother. However you recognize this amazing man, everyone is talking about Jussie Smollett. 1. For his completely enthralling weekly performance on Empire and now 2. Because he just addressed his sexuality rumors via an intimate interview moment with Ellen DeGeneres.

After Jussie filmed a TV interview with Ellen, he took the opportunity to speak more privately with her and share some feelings about his sexual identity. He had some pretty awesome things to say.

Basically he came out. But he came out by saying he’s never been in! He’s just a private guy, which is why he hasn’t talked about his personal life. It has absolutely nothing to do with hiding, or covering it up.

“It was really important to make sure that it got across that there is no closet. There’s never been a closer that I’ve been in,” he said. “I have a home and that is my responsibility, to protect that home. So that’s why I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt no closet that I’ve ever been in.”

Jussie has been asked about his sexuality before — his Empire character is also gay — but he’s skirted the topic, telling Ellen it was “very, very important” that he saved this public moment to have it with her. “You’ve been such an inspiration to so many, but also to me,” he told her. “You are who you are.”

We heart you, Jussie! Watch the full clip here:

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