Smollett tells Ellen that he has never had a closet, that he owns a dresser, but not a closet. He further stated it is now his responsibility to protect his home. Smollett is comfortable with Ellen and likes what she has done within the LGBT community. He went on to compare her with Michael Jackson, saying she has done for the LGBT community, what Michael did for the black community.
When his character ‘came out’ on the show, Smollett received hate mail but it did not stop him from continuing the storyline nor did it stop him from revealing he is also gay in real life. He receives hateful tweets from time to time and stated he knows he shouldn’t even respond to them but he doesn’t believe in letting people say nasty things without some response.
Smollett did not want to include his personal life in the interview about his role in, Empire. He did agree however, to have a separate talk with Ellen backstage after the show. His not wanting to talk does not mean he has a ‘closet’. Smollett felt it very important for people to know that fact. It is not that he is hiding or denying anything, he is protecting what is his.
Ellen felt many people were questioning Smollett’s real life after his character made his announcement. She asked him to do the backstage interview to give his viewers a chance to get answers to what they were questioning and to give Smollett a chance to express himself. Ellen expressed how proud she was of Smollett, proud when he says there is no closet and never has been a closet.