Lenny Kravitz Says Luther Vandross Was Lonely and Tried to Hide His Sexual Orientation

Luther Vandross seemed to have it all, but according to Lenny Kravitz, the late singer struggled behind the scenes. Kravitz says Vandross was a lonely man and he tried to hide his sexual orientation from the public. The singer wanted nothing more than to live his life, but he held on to this secret until his death.

Lenny Kravitz grew up around celebrities

Lenny Kravitz | Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Lenny Kravitz | Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Since Kravitz was the son of Roxie Roker, the star of CBS sitcom The Jeffersons, and Syd Kravitz, an entertainment executive, he often spent time around celebrities. In his book, Let Love Rule, Kravitz says he remembers Duke Ellington playing “Happy Birthday” for him when he turned 6 years old. Furthermore, his mother was friends with singer Sarah Vaughan, whom he referred to as “Auntie Sarah.” His godmothers were the late Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.  

Luther Vandross was lonely and tried to hide his sexual orientation, according to Lenny Kravitz

Kravitz used to live with songwriter David Lasley, who was also his mentor. He says he overheard Vandross and Lasley speaking on the phone. They were often on speaker, so Kravitz could hear their conversations clearly. Vandross and Lasley would have regular phone calls late at night.

Kravitz says he would hear Vandross tell Lasley how lonely he was. According to Kravitz, Vandross also told Lasley that even though he received admiration from female fans, he was more interested in his fans’ brothers. When the women were screaming for Vandross, all he could think about was the fact that he would rather be with a man, according to Kravitz. In his book, he says he felt sad for Vandross because he couldn’t be himself.

Why Luther Vandross never came out

During an interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Patti LaBelle spoke about Vandross’ hesitance to come out. She says he told her he didn’t want to upset his mother. He also didn’t want to disappoint his female fans.  

“Although [his mother] might have known, he wasn’t going to come out and say this to the world,” says LaBelle. “And he had a lot of lady fans, and he told me that he just didn’t want to upset the world. It was hard for him.”

According to Pink News, Journalist Michael Musto says Vandross wanted to have a boyfriend. “A famously open gay singer/songwriter [told me] Luther was dying to have a boyfriend,” says Musto. “It was an inside show business open secret.”

Writer Bruce Vilanch says Vandross was careful about not letting the public know about his sexual orientation. “He was way ‘in’ [the closet],” says Vilanch, according to Pink News. “He said to me, ‘No one knows I’m in the life.’”

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