Oakland-born singer-songwriter Kehlani made headlines this week after she opened up in a recent interview about the privilege she has as a “cisgender, straight-presenting” member of the LGBTQ community.
While speaking to The Advocate as one of their Women of the Year issue covers, the singer acknowledged to the LGBTQ news source that while she might be a queer woman, her ability to assimilate into the mainstream has made her journey far easier than those whose physical presentation goes against societal norms.
“I have a lot of privilege,” the 25-year-old mother states plainly, noting that people with internal biases can almost dismiss or forget she’s queer because of her heteronormative presentation.
“I think a lot of artists who we talk about and say, ‘Oh, they had to come out or they had to do this,’ a lot of them can’t hide it. A lot of it is very [much] in how they present. It’s tougher for them. It’s tougher for trans artists. It’s tougher for Black gay men. It’s tougher for Black masculine gay women.”
“I didn’t even really have to come out in my private life,” she continued, explaining, “I don’t walk down the street and people look at me and go, ‘Oh, I bet she’s queer’ or ‘I bet that she’s into women’ or anything like that because of the way I present.”
She continued, “That’s all privilege and I think that there are quite a few artists who were truly at the forefront, but weren’t able to make the strides that I was able to make being 100% percent myself, because of the way they present and the biases and the phobias of the American public and the world… I’ve been lucky, super lucky.”
Her die-hard fans are aware of the singer’s sexual fluidity given how often it seeps into her music, but during her pregnancy with her daughter Adeya, many found themselves wondering if she was bisexual, lesbian, or just going through a phase of sexual experimentation.
During a 2018 Nylon interview, she addressed the confusion, noting, “I’ve gotten everything from ‘I thought she was a lesbian’ to ‘She was using queerness to promote her career, then went and betrayed us with a man’ to ‘Her baby father is just a sperm donor.’ One, I never identified as a lesbian. I’ve always been pansexual.”
That same year she also took to Twitter to clarify to the public that she identified as “queer.” However, earlier this week, she stirred up some hoopla on social media after a clip from an Instagram Live she was a part of made the rounds.
In the short video, the entertainer pops up on the screen and is heard asking viewers “You wanna know something new about me,” before quickly responding with, “I finally realized I’m a lesbian.”
Regardless of how she ultimately chooses to identify, Kehlani told the Guardian that she’s open to sharing her journey in the hopes of helping others.
“There are so many people willing to have conversations where people who don’t understand can potentially understand,” she concludes. “So many people are willing to have teachable moments. That’s awesome because a lot of…hurt and anger in the past generations have been rooted in truly not understanding or not having access to educational moments.”
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