Kehlani discusses privilege after coming out as a lesbian

"It’s tougher for trans artists. It’s tougher for Black gay men. It’s tougher for Black masculine gay women"

Kehlani has opened up about both her sexuality and “straight-presenting” privilege, after coming out as a lesbian.

“Wanna know what’s new about me?” the singer asked in an Instagram Live video alongside photographer Jamie-Lee B. “I finally know I’m a lesbian.”

The ‘Can I’ star also acknowledged that she carries “a lot of privilege” as someone who passes as a “cisgender-presenting, straight-presenting” figure in the industry.

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“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,” she said. “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.”

 

Kehlani, who has openly identified as queer prior to coming out as a lesbian, went into detail about her social presentation in an era where artists still face homophobic and transphobic abuse, adding that she’s been “super lucky”.

“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 explained. “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.”

Kehlani
Kehlani CREDIT: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

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Acknowledging her fans and supporters, she continued: “All the beautiful Black trans women that I have in my life that I’m able to just witness — not only living their true fucking power — but [to] be courageous and be fearless and then fiercely educate everybody around them and just be a force in this world! They do it so effortlessly that it comes off almost easy to people who don’t know them.

“I have so many super badass, bad bitch, trans women friends that I’m just like, ‘I bet people think this shit is a walk in the fucking park because of how you get up and get out the house every day and be this badass bitch.’ But I know it’s fucking hard.”

Back in September last year, Kehlani joined artists including Cardi B, Tinashe and Common in criticising the news that the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor would not face charges relating to her death.

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