Queer R&B singer Kehlani recently opened up about the privilege of passing as a cisgender, straight artist, addressing how this presentation has contributed to her success.
In an interview with The Advocate, the singer, who uses she and they pronouns, candidly discussed how society’s perception of her has benefitted her career. She acknowledged she’s had an easier time than other LGBTQ2S+ musicians who have had their sexualities and gender identities questioned.
“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 said.
“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.”
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The 25-year-old has openly identified as queer since 2018, and came out as a lesbian earlier this week. Prior to that she had not come out in her private life, and she pointed out how this privilege often isn’t afforded to visibly trans and Black queer artists: “It’s tougher for trans artists. It’s tougher for Black gay men. It’s tougher for Black masculine gay women.”
The “Bad News” singer thanked the Black trans women in her life for their encouragement and influence on her journey as a woman of colour. She added that she is raising her two-year-old daughter Adeya in an environment where “identity won’t ever be an issue.”
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