After Facing Backlash for Role in Voguing Show, Actor Jameela Jamil Says She's Queer

Thursday February 6, 2020

After the Internet took aim at actor Jameela Jamill for her participation in an upcoming voguing competition series for HBO Max, "The Good Place" star responded by saying she is queer.

Earlier this week, Deadline reported that Jamill, 33, would be the host of "Legendary," a voguing competition show launching later this year when the streaming service HBO Max debuts. People on Twitter were quick to call out the decision for Jamill to host the show, with many saying a trans person of color should MC the series.

Ballroom culture, which rose prominence in the '80s and '90s in New York City, was created by black and Latinx LGBTQ people as safe spaces and were an event where people could express themselves with fashion, music, dancing and drag.

Jamill initially defended herself by saying she was not in fact hosting "Legendary" — voguing star Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ will MC the new show — and that she will serve as a judge along with rapper Megan Thee Stallion, "America's Next Top Model" judge Law Roach, and choreographer and ballroom legend Leiomy Maldonado. On Wednesday, Jamill then posted a lengthy note in which she said she is queer but was "scared" of coming out.

"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," Jamill went on to say. "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 it to come out."

The actor went on to say that she is taking a break from social media in order to avoid rude comments.

"I know that my being queer doesn't qualify me as ballroom," she added. "But I have privilege and power and q large following to bring this show... Sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance."

Jamill also spoke with People magazine about her role in "Legendary."

"I really want to utilize my platform to share with other communities that need to be highlighted," she said. "I think that this community deserves more attention and more love. And it shouldn't only exist on the outskirts."

Click here to read some of the comments criticizing Jamill for participating in "Legendary" and check out her post in full below.