Lee Daniels is a successful director with credits such as Precious, The Butler and Monster’s Ball. He is also the creator of the TV show Empire.
Recently he spoke at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & TV about his struggles with being a black gay man.
“Simultaneously, all my friends were dying again. It’s so exciting, the yin and the yang of it all. I was making an enormous amount of money. I came from extreme poverty. I didn’t know what to do with the money, so what do you do? Houses, clothes, I don’t know. Drugs, parties, at 22, 23-ish. And still directing theater. And AIDS hit. And again, it wiped away all of my friends. I had no friends. And we were all together because their parents weren’t taking them in. And we were burying each other, because most parents, 90 percent of the parents, were not taking them in. And it hit the community hard. It was terrifying, because we never knew whether you could drink from glasses or what it was. It was the most terrifying thing ever. And I didn’t understand why it was that I wasn’t [dead], because there were far better souls than me that were going. I thought that I needed to go. And so I descended into drugs and into sexual bath houses to die. That I don’t have AIDS is a miracle from God. I don’t understand it. I really don’t understand it. Because I should have had HIV.”
You can read the entire transcript of Lee Daniels talk at Lee Daniels Talks About Being Beaten Up, Discovering He Was Gay