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Jameela Jamil just came out as queer after immense backlash to her new voguing show

Emma Powys Maurice February 6, 2020
Jameela Jamil international women's day

Jameela Jamil at the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty)

Jameela Jamil has come out as a member of the LGBT+ community in response to criticism over her upcoming role in a new HBO voguing series.

On Tuesday HBO announced that the actor, activist, model and presenter Jamil would be sitting on a panel of judges for its new unscripted voguing competition Legendary.

Voguing, a form of dance that finds its roots in the New York ballroom scene that began around the 1960s, has long been a symbol of queerness and LGBT+ resistance.

HBO’s announcement prompted a backlash from many who believed Jamil wasn’t representative of the black LGBT+ community in which voguing originated. The criticism was heightened by an inaccurate press release stating that she would also be the MC of the show.

Jamil later clarified that she would just be a judge, not an MC, but the online outcry against her casting continued as the star was accused of “appropriating ballroom culture”.

She has now set the record straight with a statement on Twitter explaining that she identifies as queer, but had struggled to come out before because of her Indian and Pakistani heritage.

“Twitter is brutal. This is why I never officially came out as queer,” she wrote.

“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 she is bringing to the judge’s 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.”

The Good Place star added that she would not be talking to press about her sexuality yet and urged the media to focus on the contestants of the new show, which begins shooting today.

More: ballroom culture, coming out, HBO, Jameela Jamil, Queer, the good place

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