The Real Gertrude “Ma” Rainey Was a Trailblazing Bisexual Blues Singer

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Ma Rainey’s Black Backside, launched on Netflix on Dec. 18, is already poised for Oscar nominations. With an exceptional forged and costumes, and an electrifying rating, Ma Rainey is a blinding biopic that follows the real-life “Mom of Blues,” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey. Ma, who’s portrayed by the infinitely gifted Viola Davis, is proven to be a trailblazer in each sense of the phrase. As a Black lady within the ’20s, she captivated her viewers along with her highly effective voice, and demanded the popularity she deserved — and she or he bought it. 

Other than her expertise, charisma, and dedication, Ma Rainey can be depicted as queer within the film, with a give attention to her girlfriend, Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige). However was Ma really queer? And was Dussie based mostly on an actual individual?

Was Ma Rainey homosexual?

It is believed that Ma Rainey was bisexual, on account of suggestive lyrics in a few of her songs, and the truth that she bought busted by the police for internet hosting a queer orgy. Though Dussie Mae is a fictional character, Ma was romantically linked to Bessie Smith, one other queer jazz performer who was her protegé.

Nevertheless, Ma did marry twice — to males. Her first husband was Will Rainey, to whom she was married for 10 years earlier than they separated. She married once more to a youthful man, however there are only a few particulars about his identify or who he was.

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Considered one of Ma’s songs, “Show It on Me Blues” (recorded in 1928) is believed to be a proclamation of her sexual identification:

The place she went, I do not know
I imply to observe in all places she goes;
Of us say I am crooked. I did not know the place she took it
I need the entire world to know.

I went out final evening with a crowd of my mates,
It should’ve been ladies, ‘trigger I do not like no males.
Put on my garments similar to a fan,
Discuss to the gals similar to any outdated man.

In regard to what has been described as an “orgy,” it was written that she hosted a celebration in 1925 with all-female visitors who have been discovered “indecent” — and Ma needed to really get bailed out of jail the following morning for it. In Chris Albertson’s biography of Bessie Smith, he wrote, “[Rainey] and a gaggle of younger women had been ingesting and have been making a lot noise {that a} neighbor summoned the police,” who got here “simply because the impromptu social gathering bought intimate.” 

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Supply: Getty Photographs

Viola is impressed to be enjoying such a dynamic character, telling BBC, “We’re so used to seeing Black characters outlined by white individuals. And once they’re outlined by white individuals, their voice will get taken away, their sexuality will get taken away. They’re outlined within the picture of — take what I am about to say with a grain of salt — however I am gonna say it, they’re outlined within the mindset of the oppressor.” 

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She added, particularly about Ma’s freedom to precise herself and her sexuality, saying, “While you discover a lady like Ma Rainey — she’s massive, she is bisexual, she’s darkish skinned. She’s all these issues … Often a personality like that’s simply humorous, she’s simply massive. Black and humorous. That is it. That, or she’s uber maternal.”

Supply: Netflix

Taylour Paige, who performed Ma’s girlfriend, talked to Girls’s Well being on how she was impressed to tackle this function of an individual who did not exist.

“There was no individual that I picked to actually [based her character off of]. I simply type of would pray to my ancestors … I requested for Ma and August Wilson’s blessing, and I simply requested for all of the powers of the universe to return into me to lend myself to the story — as a result of it is not about me. I play [Ma’s] lover, and I am on this journey with everyone else.”

About the author


Derek is the great gaming geek for longer than he cares to admit and love everything about the gaming world. He is connected with tech work from the last five years and always loves to learn and writer new about the current technology. You can mail him @ derek@rexweyler.com.

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