‘I gave myself permission to feel what I felt in the moment’


Red Table Talk is back from hiatus with a sharp and scintillating conversation about sexuality.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Gammy (aka Adrienne Banfield-Norris) welcomed actress and comedian Niecy Nash to the table to share her experience of falling in love with a woman after two marriages to men. The 51-year-old Claws star married musician Jessica Betts last August, taking fans who had considered her to be straight by surprise. 

Seven months into her marriage, Nash continues to resist labels about her sexuality, quipping that she’s “LGBTQ-plus-Niecy.” As she sees it, she fell in love with the “most beautiful soul I had ever met in my life,” something that doesn’t diminish her past marriages to men or requires a rigid definition.  

“A lot of people had said at the beginning, ‘Niecy Nash has finally come out,'” Nash, who was joined on the show by Betts, whom she calls her “hersband,” shared. 

“And I said, ‘Well, come out of where?’ Because I wasn’t in anywhere. I wasn’t living a sexually repressed life … I loved the boys I was with when I was with them. And now this is who I love. I wasn’t living a lie or trying to make myself like a man. I mean, I liked ’em. I liked ’em real good but now I’m on the new new. 

“If I had to label myself in this moment, I would label myself with the term ‘free,'” she added.

Despite having “never dated a woman in my life,” Nash revealed that she was the one to make the first move in the relationship. After contacting on Instagram and becoming friends for years — but nothing more, the couple clarified as they shut down rumors that Nash had cheated on her second husband — the two women found themselves living in New Jersey while Nash filmed Claws. Over a friendly meal of wine and crabs one night, a newly single Nash says she began to see her friend in a new light, saying, “My eyes crossed and I saw her different in that moment and I was like, ‘Hey girl.'”

She ended up inviting Betts back to her place to watch a film, signaling her feelings by placing her hand on the back of the other woman’s head. Betts was taken aback but got “butterflies,” and after Nash “kissed her on the cheek like, ‘you can get it'” the singer suggested that they lie down. 

“A lot of people think that this little thundercat just came in here and picked me up and turned me every which way but loose,” Nash told the Smiths. “I gave myself permission to feel what I felt in the moment, and to be unapologetic about it.”

Niecy Nash (bottom right) and wife Jessica Betts (bottom left) are discussing their relationship on Red Table Talk. (Photo: Red Table Talk/Facebook)

Niecy Nash (bottom right) and wife Jessica Betts (bottom left) are discussing their relationship on Red Table Talk. (Photo: Red Table Talk/Facebook)

While Betts says she had to pursue Nash — who was looking for some no-strings fun after her second divorce and worried their friendship would suffer from a fling — the actress eventually “felt like I was in a situation with my soulmate.”

“I’ve dated men all my life, too,” she said. “Married a couple of ’em. But it was the first time in my life I had ever felt fully seen. And it changed me, and the other thing that I think gets harder for people is when you don’t fit in the box we put you in… And what I say to that is I am everything you thought I was, I just lay my head somewhere else.”

Indeed, making her relationship known to the people in her life proved to be complicated. Nash — whose first husband was a pastor, with whom she shares three grown children — says she’s experienced judgment from people in the church community and is in therapy with her mom over her criticism of the relationship. But her two daughters and one son have been more supportive, if not a bit bemused at first. 

“My daughters were like, ‘Wait, what?'” she shared. “My youngest daughter, she reminded me. She was like, ‘Wait a minute, Mom, are you the same mom who was like, ‘Girl, I’m strictly dickly?’ And I was like, ‘Wah wah.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, no, yeah. Yeah, but no.’ And my son was like, ‘Woooow!’ 

“My children were able to meet Jessica before they knew we were dating,” she added. “So they were able to meet her and form their own opinion about her as a person. And they all were like, ‘Oh, my God. She’s so cool. Oh, my God. I like her.’ They was exchanging numbers and all of this and that. So they already liked her.” 

Betts also let slip that the couple got engaged while “skinnydipping in the hot tub.” She popped the question with, “If anybody’s gonna be getting on my nerves, it’s going to be you. Marry me.” But it turns out that Nash had her own proposal planned, and she ran upstairs to fetch the ring she’d bought to give Betts. “We engaged each other the same night,” Nash shared. 

The conversation prompted Jada, Willow and Gammy to reflect on their own sexualities and whether or not they could ever wind up with a woman. 

“Of course you think about it, but I just never — I just never had that attraction, so I just couldn’t get there. Just wasn’t for me,” said Gammy. 

“It wasn’t for me, either,” her daughter Jada agreed. “I love being amongst women, but I never could connect to women romantically. But that’s not to say that it couldn’t be that. You just never know.”

But the actress, who is married to Will Smith, admitted to having “swooned” and “been infatuated” with a couple of women in the past, when she was 20. She added that she could see daughter Willow “falling in love with a woman one day.”

The former child pop star seemed open to the possibility. 

“I don’t feel like I’ve been in love with a woman just yet,” Willow shared. “But I definitely feel like it could happen because I’ve had very strong feelings for women before… That feeling that you get when you’re with your sisters, that understanding and that acceptance and that softness, I feel like is very appealing, specifically to me.”

In typical Red Table Talk fashion, the conversation also featured a striking confession from 67-year-old Gammy about her interest in threesomes. 

“I just never allowed myself to even experiment with it,” she said. “And I know I’ve thought about, ‘Oh wow, a threesome might be really enjoyable,’ but just could never… You know how I was raised, with all that guilt and shame around sex, so I definitely didn’t have the freedom to consider it, as far as love is concerned.” 

When pressed by her granddaughter, she admitted that she’s “always had an interest” in threesomes because “it just seems like sexually, it would be extremely pleasurable.”

She added, “I’ve had conversations with my husband about it. But I just — I don’t know, I think it’s too late in my life to be that experimental at this age. That’s just how I feel. I’m not, well, if I wasn’t willing to do it then, I’m not — I’m still not willing to do it now.”

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