“This is absolutely not how I wanted to come out”
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE VIA INSTAGRAM
It was announced on Tuesday that Jameela Jamil, actor activist, model and presenter, would be included as one of the panel judges for a new unscripted voguing competition for HBO, called Legendary.
Immediately, the announcement from HBO provoked criticism and a huge backlash from people who believed Jameela was not representative of the community in which voguing originated.
Voguing, a highly stylised modern dance, was born from the ballroom in the late 1970s when the POC community felt segregated from the LGBTQI community.
It was through voguing in the ballroom that a safe space was created where the POC community could express their queer identity.
Voguing acted as a form of self-expression in which both fantasy and reality could be lived out in terms of gender and sexual identity.
Therefore, Jameela was accused of “appropriating ballroom culture” upon the announcement that she would be a part of the show.
Not only that, the criticism was heightened by an inaccurate press release that stated Jameela would be the MC of the show.
Following the criticism, Jameela took to Twitter to release a statement that revealed she identifies as queer, but had struggled to come out earlier because of her Indian and Pakistani heritage.
She wrote: “Twitter is brutal. This is why I never officially came out as queer. I added a rainbow to my name when I felt ready a few years ago, as it’s not easy within the South Asian community to be accepted, and I always answered honestly if ever straight-up asked about it on Twitter.”
“But I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid. I didn’t come from a family with *anyone* openly out.”
“It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties. This is absolutely not how I wanted to come out. I’m jumping off this hell app for a while because I don’t want to read mean comments dismissing this. You can keep your thoughts.”
She continued: “I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom. But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show (as does the absolutely iconic Megan Thee Stallion) and it’s beautiful contestants and hosts.”
In response to the critics who questioned what qualified her for the role, she referred to her “11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, a newcomer to ballroom, and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now and being a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community”.
Jameela also aded that she would not be speaking publicly about her sexuality any further yet and urged the media to focus on the contestants of the new show.
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