Actress Jameela Jamil just “officially” came out as queer.
Jamil, who is best known for her work on the NBC series The Good Place, wrote a long missive to her followers on Twitter.
“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,” she wrote.
She said that she “kept it low” out of fear of being accused of “performative bandwagon jumping” for her identity, which caused her “confusion, fear, and turmoil” growing up.
“It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties,” she wrote.
Jamil responded to the recent controversy surrounding her casting as a lead judge on HBO Max’s upcoming show Legendary, which will be a reality show about voguing. Voguing comes from ballroom culture, which was developed largely by Black and Latin trans and queer people over the last several decades.
People on social media criticized her – as a cisgender and straight woman – for taking up space in the show. They also criticized her casting because she doesn’t have any background in voguing or ballroom culture.
Lol.. I interviewed for this gig. As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of kind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers https://t.co/kJleDihn02
— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) February 4, 2020
Actual people exist who are fully emersed in ballroom culture. I wonder what skill set you have to be a judge? And watching pose does not count.
— jwshua (@b1tchidk) February 5, 2020
“This is absolutely not how I wanted to come out,” she wrote, a reference to the title of her letter, “Twitter is brutal.”
Jamil explained that she got the job because she brings star power to the show. She also stressed her years of experience in the television industry and how the show’s creators wanted a judge who isn’t really familiar with ballroom culture to be a judge so that the audience – who, presumably, will mostly be people who don’t know much about ballroom culture – will have someone to identify with, like judges on cooking shows who aren’t chefs themselves.
“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 ballroom hosts,” she wrote. “Sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
Her full letter is below.
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.
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 ballroom hosts. Sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance. I’m not the MC. I’m not the main host. I’m just a lead judge due to my 11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, a newcomer to ballroom (like much of the audience will be) and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now, and being a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community.
We start shooting tomorrow and I’m really excited to watch these stars shine and be celebrated. I’m excited to work with Leiomy, Dashaun, and Mike Q. As I am with my friend Law Roach and Megan. It’s fucking hard to be asked to continue to be patient after so long of waiting for what you want. I know that. South Asian stories are almost never told without white stars. But I hope you don’t let a few castings designed to help the show get off the ground stop you from supporting the talent from Ballroom on this show. They really are fucking amazing and I’m really honored to work with them.
To the press, I really really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just focus on the contestants of the show until it’s out.