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"I Had To Follow The Rules If I Wanted To Be Successful": Da Brat Opened Up About Her Sexuality And Not Being Able To Come Out Sooner

  Prince Williams / WireImage
Prince Williams / WireImage

First comes love, then comes Da Brat and Jesseca "Judy" Harris-Dupart stealing our hearts with their eclectic style, amazing connection, and pure adoration for one another.

Brat, a Grammy-nominated rapper, and Jesseca, Kaleidoscope Hair Products founder, first crossed paths in 2017 when Brat attended one of Jesseca's work events. "I was real nervous and scared at first," Brat previously said on Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta. "I would hide behind furniture when she would talk to me. I would cover up my face when I laughed. Swag gone, okay? Nobody would probably expect me to act like that."

Later, Brat and Jesseca bumped into each other again and had their first date somewhere very on-brand for the rapper: the studio. Brat admitted her nerves caused her to go ghost after the date — Jesseca said it was "for months" — but once she got past those feelings, they were able to establish and build the relationship we've all loved and been fortunate enough to witness for the past three years. Brat confirmed her relationship with Jesseca in an Instagram post in 2020 that doubled as her coming out announcement.

Then came marriage. In February 2022, the pair tied the knot in a star-studded ceremony before welcoming their first child, True Legend Harris-Dupart, one year later. Here, we speak to them both about their journey to becoming who they are, the love they share, and their hopes for the future regarding Black queer representation.

Editor's note: This post has been edited for length and clarity.

BUZZFEED: Congratulations on your first baby! How has life and everything been so far?

Brat: It's been absolutely amazing. I love being a mother. I love our family. I love when he cries, I love when he is smiling. It totally lights my whole life up, and it makes my whole day better. When he smiles at me... He started to hold his bottle, and now, yesterday, he has turned over for the first time. We celebrate everything he does. I love when he poops and pees on me. I don't care. I just love every little thing about motherhood. I love loving him and having him love me unconditionally. Like, he came out of my belly. And it's just still unbelievable to me.

In your baby special, Brat Loves Judy: The Baby Special, you discuss your journey since giving birth and how you plan on raising your son. How does your plan to raise him differ from how you grew up? What are some of the things that you also plan to implement with him?

Brat: We just plan for him to do and be whatever he wants to be. We're going to make everything he wants accessible to him. As far as the things he may like or may not like, we want him to try everything. We're not going to force anything on him. We want him to be a very happy child, a smart child, a God-fearing child, a respectable child, an honorable child, and a child with integrity.

Who was someone you looked up to growing up? Did you have a Black queer icon?

Brat: I feel like I was in the closet for so long, I don't think I even was allowed to pick one, or even had one in my head, or knew of their lifestyle, or could even pay attention because my family [was religious]. My grandmother was on me. I didn't have the option to even watch or listen to or didn't even know. Yeah, in the '80s or '90s, I just didn't even know.

Jesseca: [Nods in agreement.] A lot of artists weren't really open about it.

Who was your first queer crush?

Jesseca: My first queer crush was Da Brat.

Brat: Good answer! [smiles] I didn't have a first queer crush. Yeah. I don't know... I didn't have a first queer crush. My first queer crush was Michael Jackson? I didn't have a first girl queer crush.

  Theo Wargo / Getty Images
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Did you have a Black queer fashion icon?

Jesseca: André Leon Talley.

Brat: Yeah, yeah, he was amazing.

Jesseca: There's also RuPaul.

Brat: There's always RuPaul.

Jesseca: Yes, definitely.

What was your journey like with understanding your own sexual identity? When did you know your sexuality wasn't a phase?

Brat: I knew my sexuality wasn't a phase when I kissed a girl, and I liked it.

Jesseca: I think I've kind of almost been, not necessarily super fearless, but I kind of have been, like, 'I don't give a...about what people say,' for a while. So I think my exploration days were not anything that was kind of reserved. I just was exploring. I don't even remember when [I thought], 'Oh, this isn't a phase.'

  Carol Lee Rose / Getty Images for Amazon Studios
Carol Lee Rose / Getty Images for Amazon Studios

Was there a time when you ever wanted to be more expressive in regards to your sexual identity in your career or the industry that you work in, but felt like you couldn't?

Jesseca: Oh, that's a good question. So, the [beauty] industry that I'm in is definitely not queer-heavy [in terms of representation]. Nor is it [with] women. So it's both of those. So going to these big meetings, these roundtables, you sit at the table with a whole bunch of guys that are usually Caucasian, sometimes they're Asian, and you [have] big conversations and [see] certain different levels of respect that people have and don't have for you because of gender or sexuality. You're almost [treated like] a coin. You know, not necessarily respected for the things that I've actually done, but it's more so like, 'Oh, that's just that ghetto hair product over there.'

Brat: There have always been [blockades] in my whole career. You couldn't represent that. I couldn't put out a song about being gay. It wouldn't sell. And if you don't sell records, the record label drops you, and pretty much your career is over. You have to figure something else out. And I was too young then to weigh out all my options. But now, I'm older and more mature and know what I want to do in life and can make any decision I want. But before, I didn't know what to do. I was new in the industry. I had to follow the rules if I wanted to be successful.

  Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images
Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Today, how much progress do you think has been made for LGBTQ people, whether in your specific industry or as a whole?

Brat: I think there has been a lot of progress in the LGBTQ community, in the industry, and as a whole. I mean, it almost doesn't matter now. People don't look at you for who you love or what you look like. Anything goes these days, and I'm grateful for that. And I'm grateful that people are more understanding. And that they know that love is love and love wins, no matter what you look like, who you are, what gender you are, what you love to listen to, how you dance, whether you wear nail polish or not, whether you're a guy, whatever you like. As long as you're happy and love wins, I think that's the most important thing.

What are your hopes for Black queer representation?

Brat: Hopefully, we can motivate and inspire people through our own stories. I can't really speak for anybody else's story but my own. Like being in the industry for so many years, it wasn't cool or safe for your career to say you were queer. Because you could lose everything. For example, when Ellen [DeGeneres] did, she lost her show. She lost everything. People were absolutely not cool with it.

And being in the industry, you're taught you want to be fuckable by guys, and you have to do that to sell records. So you can't. You can't come out, even if that's who you are. So I just think it's amazing that we can inspire people with our own stories with the way we fell in love and [how] nothing mattered anymore. I didn't care what people thought, and I came out no matter what the consequences were gonna be. And then, after I did, it was as if a weight lifted, and the world was just a better place. It was just more colorful and more love, and so many people supported me. I feel like they love me even more, which was great because I was scared. But you know, I met somebody that inspired me to not give a fuck, actually. I wanted the world to know [that] I'm in love with this woman — like, I want to hold her hand in public. I had never been able to be publicly affectionate with anybody or anything like that. So it was just a good, good feeling. I felt like a snake that shed his skin and got some new skin.

I love it. Thanks for chatting, Brat and Jesseca! Check out more from them here and here.

You can read more Black, Out & Proud interviews here.

  Logan Perrin
Logan Perrin