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Music

Singer Kehlani acknowledges being ‘straight-presenting’ has given her ‘a lot of privilege’

Lily Wakefield April 8, 2021
INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Kehlani performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, and truTV at The Forum on March 11, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Kehlani. (Christopher Polk/Getty)

Kehlani says being “straight-presenting” has given her the “privilege” of not being pressured to come out.

Kehlani, who is “on the non-binary scale” and said this week that she “finally knows” she identifies as a lesbian, told Advocate she feels she has had “a lot of privilege” as a “cisgender-presenting, straight-presenting” person.

She explained: “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.”

She continued: “I didn’t even really have to come out in my private life.

“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.

“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 per cent 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.”

Now that she is out and visible, however, she is having a huge impact on her fans who identify with her, and is able to educate those who don’t.

Kehlani explained that she is grateful to be part of a musical generation that it “able to talk about the gender spectrum and just how fluid and how limitless and how many options there are to truly figure out what it is exactly you identify with”.

“Beyond even being celebrated, we get so much education from one another,” she added.

“There are so many people willing to have conversations where people who don’t understand can potentially understand. So many people are willing to have teachable moments.”

 

More: coming out, kehlani

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