The Good Place star Jameela Jamil came out as queer in a post on Twitter Wednesday, explaining that she did not do it sooner — in part because of stigma, especially for people in the South Asian community.
Jamil’s coming out coincides with the backlash to an announcement earlier this week that she would be a judge on HBO’s Legendary, a series that turns ballroom culture into a televised competition. Ballroom, which traditionally centered trans people and people of color, has previously been explored in the documentary Paris is Burning and on the FX series Pose.
The announcement that Jamil, who, as far as anyone knew, was not part of the LGBTQ community, would be the face of the series, sparked immediate outrage on social media, especially at a time when casting trans to tell trans history has gained momentum.
In her post on Twitter Jamil wrote:
“This is why I never officially came out as queer. I added a rainbow to my name a few years ago when I felt ready to 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.”
Jamil, who said she was jumping off of Twitter for a while after posting her story, wrote, “This is absolutely not how I wanted to come out.”
She also addressed the backlash to her being chosen for Legendary.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom. But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring [in] this show (as does Megan the Stallion) and is beautiful contestants and ballroom hosts,” Jami wrote. “Sometimes it takes those with more power to get a show off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
Jamil also explained that she is not host or emcee of Legendary but rather a lead judge who has 11 years of hosting experience under her belt. She adds that she comes to ballroom culture with impartiality and “fresh eyes.”
The star of the critically acclaimed The Good Place, which just ended its run last week, finished by saying, “To the press, I really just don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just focus on the contestants of the show until it’s out.”