*Patti LaBelle was a guest on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” Tuesday, and spoke warmly about her late friend Luther Vandross during the aftershow, including the reasons why he never commented publicly on his sexual orientation.
“We talked about it,” Labelle said. “Basically, he did not want his mother to be… although she might have known, but he wasn’t going to come out and say this to the world.”
Vandross, who died of complications from a stroke in 2005, reached his peak in the 1980s with such classics like “Power of Love/Love Power,” “Here and Now,” and “Don’t Want to Be a Fool.” LaBelle shared that Vandross feared losing his fan base by coming out.
“He had a lot of lady fans, and he told me that he just didn’t want to upset the world. … But it was hard for him,” Patti said.
LaBelle first met Vandross backstage at the Apollo Theater 50 years ago, during her run with the Bluebelles. Patti recalled Vandross sneaking into their dressing room toting lavish dresses, pretending to be a designer.
LaBelle said she was reminded of Vandross’ vocal talent because of the guest seated next to her, Sam Smith. “There are voices in this world and once they sing, it’s a stamp on everybody,” LaBelle said. “Luther did that and he’s done it.”
Watch below at the 1:10 mark: