Thu, Dec 7 09:20 AM |Entertainment

Watch: Patti LaBelle Explains Why Luther Vandross Kept His Sexuality Under Wraps & "Never Came Out Of The Closet"

Patti LaBelle appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" alongside Sam Smith, where she discussed Luther Vandross deciding to keep his sexuality on the down low. 

Cohen had asked LaBelle if Vandross struggled with publicly announcing his sexuality. The singer confirmed that Vandross wanted to hide the fact that he was gay, explaining the reasons behind his choice.

Patti explained, "We talked about it. 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."

LaBelle adds, "And he had a lot of lady fans and he told me the he just didn’t want to upset the world."

Watch the clip below:

#pattilabelle talks why #luthervandross never came out publicly #wwhl #andycohen
Patti first met Luther backstage at the Apollo Theater over 50 years ago when she was part of the Bluebelles. She recalled Vandross sneaking into their dressing room with various lavish dresses pretending to be a designer. However, Patti later realized he was a talented singer.

Vandross's sexual orientation was a subject of media speculation throughout his life. 

"Though he never came out as gay, bisexual, or even straight, you had to be wearing blinders—as many of his fans, particularly female, must have been—to overlook his queerness", Jason King wrote in Vandross' obituary in The Village Voice. 

Gene Davis, a television producer who worked with Vandross, previously shared, "Everybody in the business knew that Luther was gay". 

In 2003, Vandross suffered a severe stroke at his home in New York City and was in a coma for nearly two months. The stroke affected his ability to speak and sing and required him to use a wheelchair.

Vandross died on July 1, 2005, at the JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, at the age of 54.

Vandross was an in-demand background vocalist for several different artists including Judy Collins, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Ben E. King, and Donna Summer.

He later became a lead singer of the group Change, which released its gold-certified debut album, The Glow of Love, in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. After Vandross left the group, he was signed to Epic Records as a solo artist and released his debut solo album, Never Too Much, in 1981.

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