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Essence
“I really wish I’d had the strength and the knowledge to say something sooner,” Queen Latifah tells Essence magazine of her sexual abuse as a child.
Access Hollywood
updated 6/10/2009 4:16:20 PM ET 2009-06-10T20:16:20

The often-private Queen Latifah gets candid about a slew of serious subjects in Essence Magazine’s July issue, including alleged sexual abuse she suffered as a child, rumors that she’s gay and her desire to become a mother.

“My personal life is personal and it’s really not for everyone else,” Latifah told the mag. “With what I do for a living, I have to share a lot of myself with a lot of people, but I’m not going to share everything.”

Latifah, born Dana Elaine Owens, addressed the persistent speculation about her sexual orientation.

“They want to make up stories and make me gay all the time and it’s like, ‘Keep running with it,’” she said. “I’ve definitely been annoyed by it, but I learned a long time ago that it was pointless to say anything. Everybody else can do the reading; I’ll do the living.”

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One area of her life that she’s willing to open about is her history with sexual abuse.

“He violated me,” she said of her alleged abuser. “I never told anybody; I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arm’s distance. I never really let a person get too close to me. I could have been married years ago, but I had a commitment issue.”

She says the passing of her brother gave her the courage to come forward.

“When I was 22, my brother died, and I knew that I couldn’t carry his death and that secret. I had to get it off my chest. My mother felt terrible. She was kind of a country girl, so she wasn’t up on how slick people could be. When I told my dad, he said nothing,” she continued.

With the help of a therapist, Latifah says she has come to terms with her traumatic past.

“I was a kid, and I had no power or control over the situation. I really wish I’d had the strength and the knowledge to say something sooner,” she told the mag. “Because I always wondered. Did he do that to someone else? But I accept that the time for action has come and gone.”

As for the future, the rapper/singer/actress said motherhood is a possibility, regardless of the timetable she’s operating on.

“I’m not even going to touch that subject,” Latifah said. “I know I’m running late, but I’m trying. I’m trying.”

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