Lesbian TV psychic Miss Cleo has died at 53
The TV psychic known as Miss Cleo has died of cancer at the age of 53. Her death comes 10 years after she came out publicly as a lesbian in an interview I did with her for The Advocate..
She, of course, achieved fame as a spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call service Psychic Readers Network from 1997 to 2003.
Although she had a Jamaican accent in the infomercials that became a late night television staple, Miss Cleo was actually born in Los Angeles under the name Youree Dell Harris.
Harris died Tuesday morning in Palm Beach County, Florida. She had recently been hospitalized but was discharged last week to a hospice center, TMZ reports.
What viewers didn’t know during the years the infomercials ran is that Miss Cleo was a lesbian. She came out publicly in 2006, four years after the infomercials were pulled from the air under a cloud of various lawsuits and federal and state investigations.
But she came out with some trepidation.
‘The reason it’s scary is because in my personal experience, black cultures throughout the world have a more difficult time accepting homosexuality in their family,’ she told me in 2006.
‘I have family members who will be shocked; they don’t know. I have some family members who are very close to me, and they do know. But I’ve been afraid of the wrath, of the exile. When I came out to a number of friends in the late ’80s I had a number of friends who turned their backs on me and walked away. That was really intense. I really believed they were my friends.’
But even after her television career as Miss Cleo ended, Harris said she would still be treated affectionately by fans.
‘If I’m standing in line somewhere and I’m talking, someone will whip their head around and look at me,’ she said in the Advocate interview. ‘People give me mad love, sweetheart. They’ll say, “Do you see anything? Where do we find you? When are you coming back? We miss you.” I get a lot of love.’