Inside Little Richard’s Struggles With His Sexuality

Rock n’ roll pioneer Little Richard has died at age 87 after a long battle with bone cancer.

The “Good Golly Miss Molly” singer was known for wearing flamboyant costumes, signature hairstyle sand a full face of makeup when he performed. When he came to fame in the 1950s and 1960s, he also became known for his hyper-sexualized performances.

Little Richard passed away this morning from bone cancer in Nashville. He was living with his brother in Nashville,” his longtime agent Dick Alen told People. “He was battling for a good while, many years. I last spoke to him about two or three weeks ago. I knew he wasn’t well but he never really got into it, he just would say ‘I’m not well.’ He’s been suffering for many years with various aches and pains. He just wouldn’t talk about it much.”

Over the course of his career, Little Richard openly struggled with his sexuality. At one point in his life, he embraced a gay identity. However, later on, he denounced the LGBTQ community.

Little Richard was born into a deeply religious family

Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia. He was the third child born of 12 children. There were some complications from his birth, and as a result, one of his legs was shorter than others, which deeply embarrassed his father who was a decon in the church.

Religion was a huge part of the rock n’ roll star’s upbringing. Though he grew up singing in the church, is father never approved of his musical talent and kicked him out at age 13 after causing him of being gay.

Little Richard said he always felt feminine

Little Richard always embraced more feminine learning qualities in his appearance and in his performances. Charles White’s 1984 biography The Life and Times of Little Richard, the late legend spoke out about wearing his mother’s clothes and makeup.

Over the years, Little Ricard got candid about his sexual experiences with both men and women. My whole gay activities were really into masturbation,” he told White. “I’d always be mad after I finished. Be mad at myself, don’t want to talk about it, don’t wanna answer no questions.” 

In 1995 Little Richard first publically came out as gay. “I’ve been gay all my life and I know God is a God of love, not of hate,” he told Penthouse. In 2012, the Lucille singer went on to define himself as omnisexual. “We are all both male and female,” he told GQ. “Sex to me is like a smörgåsbord. Whatever I feel like, I go for.”

Little Richard called homosexuality ‘unnatural’

Unfortunately, due to his religious background and beliefs, Little Richard never did publicly reconcile his sexuality.

“All these things, so much unnatural affection,” he said in 2017 during an interview with Three Angels Broadcasting Network. “So much of people just doing everything and don’t think about God. Don’t want no parts of him Regardless of whatever you are, he loves you. I don’t care what you are. He loves you and he can save you. All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Lord, take me as I am. I’m a sinner.’ But we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”