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Jussie Smollett

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards

Let's get one thing straight: Jussie Smollett did not "come out" as gay earlier this week.

"There's never been a closet that I've been in," the hunky Empire star tells Variety in a new interview. "It was a bigger deal to everyone than it was for me. But at the same time I do understand why it is something to talk about."

The 31-year-old appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show the other day and opened up about his sexuality. "I didn't talk to Ellen so that people could, be like, ‘Oh my God, let's see what Jussie does in his bedroom in his private life.' But I did talk to her so that people understood that they're not alone. That's all," Smollett added.

On Monday, Smollett confirmed he is gay but made sure to state he's never denied it.

"Let's not read into it the wrong way when I say that I don't talk about my personal life. I'm saying that, but there is no way to hide or deny who God made me, you know?" he said. "My mama knows, my mama likes me a lot. And yes, I take her to The Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions? But you know, honestly, we're humans and we love and we do all that good stuff. So I'm honored for this opportunity and I'm honored to be here with you."

As for playing an openly gay character on Empire, Smollett told Variety, "You don't always get these experiences as an artist of [playing] roles where you feel the impact of what you're doing, but I do. And that as an artist, as an activist, as a man, it's feeding my soul."