‘The Color Purple’ Stars Explain Film’s Lesbian Love Affair Between Two Characters
Making a new adaptation of “The Color Purple” was always going to be controversial.
The musical debuted in 2005, but every fan has their own connection to the novel and the original 1985 movie, so people feel like they have ownership over the story.
To that end, a particular point of contention for the new film has been the romantic relationship between Shug and Celie.
Some viewers are critical of seeing a lesbian relationship play out in a major studio release. Though if they’d read Alice Walker’s book or seen the stage musical, they wouldn’t be surprised to see this storyline. Others feel that—like the 1985 movie—it doesn’t do enough to highlight the characters’ romance.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Taraji P. Henson, who plays Shug Avery, and Danielle Brooks, who reprises her Tony-nominated role of Sofia, commented on the negative reactions to the relationship, noting that it’s long past time to start openly discussing sexuality.
Taraji had some very strong, pointed words for the haters coming after her for playing an LGBTQ+ character.
“Now, some prude under my comment, somebody was like, ‘I sure hope they don’t explore that lesbian relationship,’” Henson said. “I was like, ‘Well baby, did you read the book?’ We didn’t invent this stuff. This is what she wrote. It is real.”
Brooks would like to see the film open the door to more conversations about sexuality in the Black community. And she’s not wrong. “The Color Purple” is such an influential property, it could create an interesting opportunity to honestly talk about these issues.
“People should see themselves, I think the Black community hides so much and is so ashamed of their sexuality and doesn’t allow people to be free and be who they are,” said Brooks. “We need more stories of black women seeing themselves and loving on other Black women if that’s what they so choose to do. I think it’s a beautiful thing.”
In response to the criticism, trans activist/TV personality Ts Madison pointed out that there are far more controversial aspects of the story that people should be upset about.
“So yall more upset that Mrs Celie and Shug Avery was exploring their sexuality but didn’t draw the line at her being molested at 14 by her stepfather and having his kids?,” she wrote on X f.k.a. Twitter. “This really shows me why yall still let that ‘Fresh’ uncle come to the family reunion but throw your Gay kids on the street!”