Tyler Perry is an actor, director, screenwriter, and all-around entertainment mogul. He’s known for his films, plays, and his famous character, Madea.
Despite his fame and success, we don’t know much about Tyler Perry’s personal life. In the absence of any real romance rumors, many people have speculated that Perry is gay. So, what’s the deal with Tyler Perry’s sexuality, and who is he dating now?
Tyler Perry Has Never Been Married
Part of the reason we haven’t heard much dating news about Perry is that he was in a long-term relationship for most of the time he’s been famous.
Perry met model, filmmaker, and humanitarian, Gelila Bekele in 2007 at a Prince concert. The couple built a life together, and in 2014, they welcomed their son, Aman Tyler Perry, to the world.
But, in 2020, Perry made an announcement on social media that the long-time love birds called it quits. A source close to the pair told People that the split was amicable, saying, “their focus is on being the best parents they can for their son.”
Needless to say, fans were wondering what that chapter would look like, as well.
Where The Gay Rumors Started
When celebrities’ romantic lives aren’t in the spotlight the way their professional lives are, it’s not unusual for fans to gossip about who they’re spending their time with. This has certainly been the case for Perry, and it’s led many people to believe that he’s gay. In particular, there was one man who fueled rumors that he was Perry’s potential beau.
Actor Tyler Lepley has been the star of Perry’s drama series The Haves and the Have Nots on OWN since 2013. Once Lepley began his role on the long-running series, rumors swirled that the pair of Tylers was actually an item.
In 2020, Lepley appeared on the sex and relationships podcast, Lip Service, and addressed the rumors.
“I came out on a Tyler Perry show, and for whatever reason, he gets a rap like that,” Lepley said, “and I know Tyler [Perry] personally, and he’s not gay. I was seen around him, and all of a sudden, ‘he’s rubbing off on me,’ and people felt like I was gay or something like that.”
He went on to say, “I think if you have a space that people can’t figure out, they can create a judgment.” In December of 2021, Lepley made his relationship with girlfriend, Miracle Watts, red carpet official, further putting his own gay rumors to rest.
His Ex-Friend Made A Tell-All Video
Perry, on the other hand, has yet to reveal a new romance. In the meantime, further fodder for the rumor mill has come to light.
In 2013, a man by the name of Walter Lee Hampton posted a YouTube video that went viral. In the video, Hampton claims to be an ex-friend of Perry. He explains that when he first met Perry, Perry was an “out” gay man.
Perry allegedly told Hampton that he was now keeping his sexual orientation a secret, and asked him not to reveal it. When asked why, Perry supposedly explained that he was hiding his identity, because he wanted to maintain the support he had from the church. Hampton called Perry’s alleged retreat into the closet a “money-making venture,” since Perry’s work had garnered a large religious following that he was wary of losing.
Hampton insists that he understands why Perry would do what he did. As an out gay Black man, himself, he’s disappointed that Perry rejected the community he was once a part of. He said that Perry “turned his back on the Black gay community. He went from being a loud member of the community… to distancing himself from Black gay men.”
Shortly after the video surfaced, Hampton got 120 stitches to heal a mysterious, large gash on his face. Many speculated that this gash was the result of an attack by Perry supporters in response to the video. Hampton, however, denied this rumor and insisted that he sustained the injury when a glass door fell on him.
It’s still unclear whether there’s truth to Hampton’s claims or the rumors that support them. For now, we’re glad that Perry works so hard to share his art with the world. We hope he’s working just as hard to find happiness and live his truth.