Kehlani hasn’t had to fight as hard as others in the LGBTQIA+ community to be accepted as a serious artist. Recently coming out as lesbian, Kehlani is aware that she is privileged to a certain extent as a cisgender-presenting straight-presenting woman. The singer has specified her preferred “they/she” pronouns, asking fans to respect them as she encourages others to be their true selves.
Following her low-key coming-out moment on Instagram Live, Kehlani spoke with The Advocate about her gender and sexual identity, unpacking her privilege and showing love to artists that have struggled to be accepted in music because of who they are.
“I have a lot of privilege,” says the artist about how she passes as both cisgender and straight. “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.”
Kehlani previously came out as queer before realizing that they were actually lesbian.
“I didn’t even really have to come out in my private life,” they explain. “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 percent 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.”
Kehlani thinks that, while their generation is one that can openly have conversations about gender and sexual identity, people need to be more open about having educational moments to better understand the spectrum.
Read the full interview at the link below.