Despite a history of homophobic jokes, director Tyler Perry is showing himself to be an LGBTQ ally with the plans for his new studio.
Tyler Perry is having a pretty great week — and he’s going out of his way to ensure that others are having one, too.
Perry, who is famous for his Madea series of films, has had a pretty complicated history with the LGBTQ community. In 2013, Gerren Keith Gaynor wrote an essay for Ebony.com criticizing Perry’s portrayal of his gay male protagonist in The Haves And Have-Nots as self-loathing, predatory, and vengeful — all negative stereotypes frequently applied to gay men in decades past. Other examples include problematic portrayals of lesbians — see Keshia Knight Pulliam’s character in Madea Goes To Jail — and jokes based around the idea that it’s deeply shameful to be gay — see the gay-stripper scene in Why Did I Get Married Too?
Watch any film that Perry has had a hand in, and you can see the jokes against the community. No matter how small or unintentional they may seem, they’re still there. So imagine our surprise to wake up to learn that Perry is creating a space for homeless LGBTQ youth to sleep and be safe, and at his Atlanta Studio, no less.
This is growth, y’all. Get some.
According to The Advocate, Perry gave reporter Gayle King a tour and showed her where the sanctuary will specifically be built. These won’t be random bunk beds, either. Perry says there will be nice apartments and a daycare, among other things.
“You know, the studio’s gonna be what it is,” said Perry, according to the Advocate. “I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about next is pulling this next phase off, is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced… somewhere on these 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient.”
This isn’t that surprising, though. The director who has gone on to be one of the highest-paid directors in Hollywood was not only homeless when he first moved to Atlanta, but also the survivor of child abuse. He’s ensuring that he does what he can to help others who have similar tales.
“This entire journey of telling stories was born out of pain, born out of heartache, born out of being an abused kid who could go inside of his head and create a world and imagination,” said Perry.
This is how you make the world better for our youth, especially those different than you, and this is sure as hell how you ally. Thanks, Tyler. Now, if you can just cut back on the gay jokes in future movies…
Additional reporting by Marilyn Drew Necci. Photos via Tyler Perry/Facebook